For First Impressions this month, Angela Brown is back, this time sharing the first page of her MG fantasy, FABLE RANGER:
Mom always told me to check before I answered the door. I really should have listened. Two boys stood on my porch, eyes wide with surprise. My neck and ears tingled. My freckles probably spelled e-m-b-a-r-r-a-s-s-e-d across my cheeks and nose.
“Case?” Darius tucked a basketball between his arm and side, snickering.
“In a dress?” Wynton whistled. His forehead wrinkled when he lifted his eyebrows, more confused than curious.
I was about to swear both of my so-called-best-friends to a “Don’t you dare tell anyone about this!” when mom called out from her studio. “Caesimilia Mollands! Close that door before bugs get in here.”
“Look, guys,” My hands dangled at my sides. I balled them into fists and gave Wynton and Darius my best evil eye. I think. “I have to get back so mom can finish the hem on this, ugh, thing, for next weekend.”
“That’s why we stopped by,” Darius said. “Wanted to get in some hoops since you can’t make it to the Community Sports Jam, you know, because of the wedding.”
I practically drooled on the spot, staring at the basketball. I wanted to snatch it from Darius, take off to the rec center and show them how much better I’d gotten charging the paint. A picture popped in my head: skinny girl in a fancy, strappy dress, heeled slippers click-clack-clicking down the sidewalk in a mad dash, dribbling the ball. Not cool. Not cool at all. I shook my head and sniffled. “I want to, guys. I really do, but–”
Mom called out again. “Case!”
“Maybe next time?” Darius tilted his head.
I nodded, sighing.
Both turned slowly, hesitant to leave. Darius glanced over his shoulder one last time and waved goodbye. It could’ve been a sign for me to run to the rec center with them anyway, slippered heels, dress and all. I wanted to so, so bad.
My first thought was that I didn’t know what caused the narrator’s embarrassment in the first paragraph. I think the sentences describing her reaction will work better after Wynton’s line about the dress. I would also say Darius and Wynton stood on my porch … Calling them two boys seems weird if they are her best friends.
I also think this line of Darius’s could use some tweaking: Wanted to get in some hoops since you can’t make it to the Community Sports Jam, you know, because of the wedding. Maybe, Thought you might want to get in some hoops before you leave for the wedding … Or something like that.
And I have no idea what charging the paintmeans. But then, I am utterly sports deficient. If it’s a commonly known phrase, just ignore me!
Other than that, I have no complaints. We get a pretty clear picture of Case on this page, and it’s done quite naturally. There is no clue this is a fantasy novel, but I don’t think there has to be. I’m willing to wait for it. Readers, what do you think?
Angela, thanks for sharing your page! You can find Angela at her blog. Marcy has her own critique at Mainewords, and you can also see a query critique for this book at Matt McNish’s QQQE.
Love your critique. I saved your blog in my favorites.
I agree with your comments 🙂 I like the idea of a tomboy being forced into a dress too!
I really enjoyed the opening few lines. This has a great MG voice. I agree with Dianne’s suggestions and observations. 🙂
I was going to mention I’d had Angela on recently!
This is great. I love the voice, and the tone of this opening. Mostly I think this is in great shape, but I did trip over a few things:
The first paragraphs seems to jump around logistically. I also agree that our narrator would use the boys’ names if she knows them.
When she gives her evil eye, maybe she should “hope,” not “think.” Clearly she thinks she did, or she wouldn’t mention it in her narration (I think is one of my own biggest problems when writing in 1st person POV).
“Charging the paint” doesn’t really bother me, because I played basketball, but you’re missing an “at” preceding it, and you might be better served with a phrase like “… better I’d gotten at taking it to the hole.”
All that said, there are also some real shining moments. Her freckles spelling out embarrassed really stands out to me.
Well done, Angela!
I think you have a great start. Like the others, I feel that the voice is a realistic MG depiction. Good job. I agree that the names should be used in the opening instead of “two boys”.
Question: is she crying? The “sniffled” made me think she was, but it felt a bit drastic to me.
One other observation: for some reason, it didn’t seem familiar enough for a conversation between “best friends”. I’m not sure why, but maybe she could whisper to them so Mom doesn’t hear or something???? Not sure.
All in all, I think you have a great start here. Good luck!
Left my comments at Marcy’s place. I will add that I too think the character is true to MG. There are some key indications to personality, BUT I still would like some hint to the fantasy that is to follow. something that tells me this ‘Tomboy’ lives and will risk dying for; Fairy Tales.
Yeah, I left my comments elsewhere, but I LOVE the voice in this opening. Isn’t it stellar?
Dianne, I agree with your comments.
I like the sound of this opening page. Angela, email me if you’d like a quick Beta read.
Terrific voice, Angela! I do agree with Dianne’s comments, though. I was confused by the first paragraph. And I’d never heard the term “charging the paint” either.
This seems like a contemporary realistic MG to me. If it’s a fantasy, I’d like to know that right from the first page, if not the first paragraph. But that’s just me.
Okay, so I’m squeeing with glee here. The feedback provided is beyond wonderful. Thank you, Dianne and to all those that left comments!!!!
Linda – I got my eye on you 🙂
Good comments, Dianne. (I’m glad you mentioned that “charging the paint” phrase. I didn’t have a clue what that meant… didn’t have enough cash? HA!)
I already commented over at Marcy’s place. All I’ll add here is directed at Angela: Good start! The idea of a tomboy forced into a dress probably resonates with a lot of us.
Love Case already. Love that she’s a tomboy. I don’t have any suggestions that haven’t already been suggested so I won’t repeat them. Good luck!
I enjoyed reading Angela’s excerpt and I like your critique too. I could envision the character’s personality and the things that matter to her pretty well just from reading this short excerpt.