Friday, March 30, 2012

Re-written first chapter

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I'm truly interested in your comments on my re-written first chapter of 'Brake Fluid, Blood & Body Bags'.

Everyone, please get your rolled-up newspapers and hit me for anything that tripped you up, big or small.

Anything is helpful, but if you stop reading at some point, out of boredom, confusion, or otherwise, please point that out. How's the voice? Consistent? Believable? Any lines that were so poorly written they gave you a migraine? 'Cause y'know I have problems with this.

If the comment box is too small, or you're hesitant to air your honest thoughts in such a public way, please send me an email. I will truly be grateful.

No matter what you say, I promise not to whine, cry, bite, or revenge-piddle on your kitchen floor :)


  1. This is definitely engaging. The only thing is I can't tell the gender of the character, or the name. If you meant to do that on purpose then it's perfect. I enjoyed it and I want to know what happened to Jackson, how exactly he ended up in the trunk of the car.

    1. yes, 100% fully intentional :)

      I want to the story to make equal sense envisioning the main character as male or female.

  2. Thank you for sharing your chapter with us. No rolled up newspaper. Just some thoughts:

    Seems like it may be a pretty lengthy chapter. Does it fit in with the chapter length of the rest of the novel? If so, then skip over the length bit. My concern here was that if it was much longer, it may be a good idea to consider cutting it into two chapters.

    There is definitely a voice. However, I'm concerned that it is somewhat passive given the very strong-arm on the "Triss-obsessed" side. Not sure if this is intended. If so, then you pulled the obsession front and center.

    The speaker/narrator is unknown. I am engaged with them yet my mind gets somewhat distracted with wandering if the person riding in the car with Triss, the person who's hooking me into this dark tale is a girl or boy. It's a minor thing but it's a tick that prevents me from letting myself get completely immersed in the situation.

    One last thing, and this would actually be a good thing for me since I honest'y can't remember. Would it be "Triss's" or as you have it with Triss'? I always get this confused because of the "s" at the end of the name.

    1. Angela, thank you for your comments :)

      Yes, this is one complete chapter, about 2,300 words. That is my normal chapter length for this story.

      As for the obsessive/passive part... I mentioned before that this character can be defined by the word 'avoidance'. He/she wants to avoid so many things, just tuck them away in the back of his/her brain, that he/she is trying to entirely re-define him/herself by the relationship with Triss.

      ...just like he/she is trying to avoid thinking about Jackson...

      hahahahaha! The Triss' vs. Triss's question. It can go both ways, as long as it stays consistent :)

  3. At first I was really interested and into it

    until the part: "Like I said, crazy is relative" that paragraph repeats things we already know. Following that there was "telling". At that point I ended up being too busy to keep reading, but I did come back later and read more.

    The sections with backstory are distracting, at times I thought you were describing the present, only to realize that was just a memory. I think this would be better if you cut all the backstory and focus on the actions and immediate thoughts of the pov in the moment of right now.

    I really like the voice this pov brings, it's interesting and slightly warped, but still believable.

    1. Thanks, Emily you've given me a lot to think about :)

      This story hops between 3 timelines, due to the nature of the plot and the main character. I will definitely attempt to make the transitions smoother :)

  4. You already know how I feel about this piece so I'm not going to tell you - again - how much I love it :-)

    I have a few little thoughts:
    'You're driving like an old lady'. Why would this phrase sound like MC doesn't trust her? That's usually a complaint that the driver is being too cautious. I don't usually equate caution with mistrust, usually that comes with overly reckless driving, if that makes sense.

    'I'm just tense'. The first possible reason for being tense is the two passengers, but that was two days ago. My first thought was that surely, MC wouldn't still be tense about that? A few paras down you give a good reason as to why that might be playing on MC's mind ('really I don't mind when she gives other people a ride ...') but the two lines are not close enough together to make the connection.

    Last one, just a little one, but I know you wanted everything :-)
    'He didn't just hit her' to me read as though he hadn't only hit her, he'd done more. Then I realised it was a time thing, not an action thing.

    Anyway, that's all I have. I'm so happy you're back to working on this :-)

    1. Awesome, Sarah! Thanks!

      ...I never thought of that 'driving like an old lady' comment in that way before... I now must change that, thanks ;)

      Ha! You and Alcar nailed me on the same point :) I was trying to tie the 'crazy is relative' comment to the screaming freshmen, the dead body, and Triss' driving together, to compare them in the MC's mind as to what 'normal' is.

      Obviously I failed spectacularly :p

      Great catch on the 'didn't just hit her' line.

  5. I, too, connected 'just tense' with the kids from 2 days ago, since the MC connecting those two events together seems odd. I think it's because the 'crazy is relative' line needs to work without the reference to freshmen two days ago that seems to have no connection to the present scene? Could just be me.

    I was going to add a whole paragraph on how CHAPTER 1 was done in a hideous font and rant about the first two words in some editgasm of insanity, but shall resist :)

    1. Thanks, Alcar :) It's so helpful when two people have similar catches 'cause to hammers home that there's a real problem there.

      Hahahahahaha... I would have loved to have read your paragraph-long-rant ;) Just imagining it makes me laugh :)

    2. *cracks knuckles*

      CHAPTER 1
      I sometimes

      "CHAPTER 1"? Really? Firstly, the egregious use of capitals is designed to drag the reader in, and only serves the same purpose as multiple exclamation marks. Your story should be worthwhile on its own merits, and not need to shout for my approval and beg to be written like a little child waving around a picture and hoping it get posted on a fridge overflowing with crap art.

      Secondly, 1. Words are written out in fiction. While it may seem that you are trying to make up for the abuse of CHAPTER (aka READ ME) with a quieter denouncement of the 1, all it does is pander to internet-speak. You may as well as call it CHAPTER LOL!!1! at this stage.

      Regarding the start of your brief sentences (the word paragraph, obviously, cannot apply to such a meagre offering), you begin with "I". Who is this I? Does the back copy tell me? Why should I begin caring about him, or her, at all? To compound your sins, you continue with "sometimes". This is the start to a novel, not a short story. Be specific, focus, draw the reader into the narrative with certainty. An uncertain voice starting out that quickly merely serves to make the reader believe the author is uncertain as well and calls the entire narrative into question as the reader is forced to solidify every authorial vagueness in his or her own head, which is far too much work for a story that is, clearly, not literature, as it is being written for the YA market.

      To sum up: I believe leaving CHAPTER 1 as it stands may actually suffice, as the readers expectations will be rendered sufficiently low as to make those first sentences, if not bearable, at least acceptable. I trust that you will understand my reluctance to parse your story further, as your use of 'relative' along would warrant a small essay on the misuse of the family dynamic to lull readers into a false sense of security, to say nothing of the insult it does to the field of psychiatry.

    3. Okay, I nearly snorted coffee out my nose...

      Alcar, you are one of a kind :D That was AWESOME!

  6. I love it, and I'm so curious to read the rest of it.

    The only things I noticed: I think someone mentioned this above, but there are multiple time lines being followed, which made sense to me until "Really, I don’t mind when she gives other people a ride, but I hate getting that jolt of awareness when people shout at her to slow down and drive properly" because that was so far behind the previous references to that Wednesday drive that I thought for a moment that maybe someone is still in their backseat. Which made me really want a reference to the fact that the person who was currently in the back of their car couldn't shout at her to slow down, nor would he have any reason to.

    Also, this line: "I never think about Triss’ driving until someone’s screaming at her from the backseat, but I always ride shotgun." Based on the number of references to bracing themself against the car and the way she drives, it seems that he does think about it, especially considering that no one's shouting in the back seat, so maybe this line doesn't make too much sense to me.

    Nit-picky thing (the only level my brain is really capable of functioning at right now): "it may seem like I have squatters-rights" held me up for a second because the MC already quite clearly told us that they do have those rights.

    "sun-faded door panel" <3 so much.

    Such an interesting chapter, and you did an amazing job making the characters fascinating and people who I'd like to continue to read about.

    1. Thanks for your comments :)

      Yeah, a normal problem with my second-drafts is all the redundancies that end up in there while I'm trying to clear-up the parts that were vague in the first-draft. I overcompensate ;)

      Writing/referencing multiple timelines is a first for me, so I got a lot to learn ;) Your comments are very clear, and very helpful (as always) in pointing out where I can improve.



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