Monday, March 7, 2011

Blogfest: catch me if you can!

Hosted by Kristina Fugate at Kaykay's Corner.

Post the first 550 words of your WIP for critique. Leave feedback in the comments below, or (if you need more space) please feel free to email me at insectwriter(at)gmail(dot)com

This is from my WIP Swamped, a YA mystery set in Georgia with a MC who is a 17 year old boy.

*****Already made some changes based on Monday's comments******

Technically it’s not stealing. Stealing would be illegal. What we’re doing is moving things. That’s a better description. Moving items in unexpected ways. That’s all. Stealing is wrong. 
Moving is entertainment.
When the dusty red cloud builds on the road, I whistle to Kai and we both drop. I look over at Kai, who pulls his baseball cap low over his forehead, pressing his face into his chest to control the streams of laughter threatening to escape. It comes out, not like the roar it should be, but as a gush of snorts and coughs. I squash the laugh building in my own chest.
“Shut the hell up,” I whisper through my teeth. Kai grips his sides and tries to get control. Peering over the downed tree I see a truck approaching. It’s him. The truck pulls to a stop and the engine cuts off.
He’s seen it. 
An antique tractor in a field is nothing unusual. An antique tractor in a field five miles away from where you left it... well, that's something else.
A few feet from me Kai convulses in a new set of giggles. Shaking my head I curse him under my breath. He’s gonna get us busted.
The car door opens with a metallic creak and Kai becomes still. It’s quiet for a full minute. Then the farmer’s voice roars across the alfalfa field. Both our bodies startle in unison.
“I swear to God I’m gonna catch you boys one day! You’re gonna regret this!”
A wave of hot fear passes across my body. Maybe we’ve gone too far, but I don’t think so.
The farmer gets back into his truck and turns it around in angry stops and starts. He flies down the road kicking up more dust.
Kai stretches his arms above his head and yawns. “Damn I’m tired, but that was totally worth it.”
 “Let’s get out of here before he comes back.”
One sweaty and dirty hour later we make it to Kai’s grandma’s store. Kai tugs on the door, setting off the bells that hover over the frame in a jangle. A cold push of air greets us. I breathe in deeply and fall into one of the rocking chairs set up by the cash register. Kai shuffles to the cooler in the corner, pulling two ice cold cokes out. He walks over and collapses into the chair next to me. We crack our cokes open in unison, and I’m just about to take that first sip, when his Grandma pops out of the back.
“I hope you’ve got money for those.”
Kai puts the can against his mouth and starts chugging. I pull the can away, just before managing to get that first delicious sip, and push my mouth up in a smile.
“Hi Mrs. Johnson. Umm, we uh,” I nudge Kai with my elbow, “we do have the money, just not on us at this moment.”
She rolls her eyes then walks over and smacks Kai on the back of the head with a rolled up newspaper, “I’m not running a charity shop here.”
Kai pulls the can away, dazed from the rapid influx of cola, and sputters a little, “yeah, sorry Memaw, just put it on my tab.”
She taps him again on the head, making her way to the counter, “What the hell you talking about, son? You’d have to work to have a tab."


  1. i really like this! so much voice :)

  2. I love this. Really great opening, Katherine. The voice comes through so clearly, and I'm really intrigued. I'd keep reading!

  3. Wow, you have something really great here! I want to know what happens next--great voice! :)

  4. WOW this is awesome. VERY VERY COOL

  5. I really like this, especially the first part where they're laying in the alfalfa field.

  6. I love this. First of all, the voice, yes. That initial sentence has a great hook (what isn't he stealing and why isn't it 'technically' stealing?). There's a great mix of setting and action, and I get a good sense of both these boys' personalities. My one quibble -- and it is teeny tiny -- is that I stumbled a little over the 'dusty red clay cloud', a comma after dusty might break it up a little without interrupting the flow?
    - Sophia.

  7. Great writing. I was laughing with the boys before I even knew what they had done.

  8. You have a really good voice here and it dragged me in right from the start. I'd definitely read on. Even in this short section, you've managed to give each of your characters a very distinct personality.

    Good work!

  9. Love the voice and the name, Kai. I would read more.

  10. This is really good. I would certainly continue to see what happens with these boys.
    Thanks for sharing your work.

  11. Kat,I really enjoyed this. It pulled me in right away. The characters are believable. Sure, I'd keep reading! There is only 1 thing that didn't feel quite right, and it is very minor, and I could be wrong! "A wave of hot fear passes across my body. Maybe we've gone too far, but I don't think so." If he doesn't think they have gone too far, he wouldn't have hot fear. I see where you are going, though. He has a conscience and is afraid of getting in trouble.

    I really like it!

  12. Great opener. Great character voice! Thanks for stopping by Writing with Debra.

  13. I like your first line! The whole first paragraph for that matter. When they walked into Kai's grandma's store, I kept expecting a scent, but there's no smell.

    I found your excerpt light-hearted and fun. I'd read more.

    Thanks for sharing, Natasha Hanova

  14. Yes, that's a teen boy's voice alright! Spot on perfect. You've got a good hook here. ; )

  15. The voice is great. I personally find it hard to capture teen boys (not having ever been one myself), and I think you've done a nice job. I think it's funny that they're moving stuff around the farm, and there's tension in the farmer being upset. My question is, how strong is that tension? Since the boys laughed it off, I'm not taking it too seriously, either. Is that where the conflict stems from?

  16. That was fun - I actually laughed out loud. I liked the line "Technically, it’s not stealing. Stealing would be illegal." - it had me hooked straight away :)

  17. Like the other commenters, I really enjoyed the voice, and that is what pulled me into the selection right away.

    I did have to reread a few times because I didn't get that they were hiding at first. I missed this because I was stuck on "dusty red clay cloud builds" and trying to determine what that means. On a second read, I understood that it was coming from the tires of the farmer's truck, but I didn't have a good enough picture of the setting in my head on the first read to visualize this.

    Great humor! Happy writing!

  18. Sorry for the weak comments today-- i'm home sick.
    @Aleeza, Meredith and Pam-- thanks!

    If you play your cards right Erinn, you can read the whole thing!

    @Angela- thanks

    @Sophia- I see another similar comment. Thanks-- it's very helpful. I'll work on the wording to make it clearer.

    Thx KT!

    Yay Murees- I love to hear that.

    Thanks Kate-- that's great!

    I appreciate it Roza.

    Glad to hear it Heather.

    @Rane- great point. Thanks so much for pointing it out. It IS helpful!

    @Debra thanks!

    @Natasha-- you are so write. making a note on that right now. Asking myself: what does kai's grandma's store smell like??... love it.

    @Zan- thanks-- I hope so!

    Rosia- i have never been a teen boy either-- so I'm winging it. :0) Great point about the conflict. This is not the central conflict... it's hard for me to jump right into that in the first 500 words...

    Thanks Antimony!

    Heidi- thanks for pointing that out. You are not alone-- a sure sign that I need to rework that phrase. I appreciate the feedback!

  19. I loved your opening paragrah. It really drew me in. The next 3 paragraphs left me a bit confused. All in all it sounds like a fun story, with two bored yet creative kids I just know are going to get into a lot of fun-reading trouble.
    By the way, thanks for reading my 550 words. I appreciated your comments.

  20. I like this a lot. Good relationship building, and the giggling in the beginning is so vivid. Not sure what's really going on, though. Two kids pulling pranks and drinking soda. Is the tractor joke the big event? Does it come back later?

    Keep writing, and love the name Kai!


  21. I actually like when a story opens without plunging right into the central conflict -- there's lots going on here, even if the actual STORY (that is, the first little step along the plot road) hasn't been taken yet. Of course, I don't know that - though I'd love to read on and find out.

    I agree with all those who said the voice is evocative and strong. This is a real world and the places and characters are vibrant. I wonder if Kai is a sympathetic character -- right now I'm a bit suspicious of him, wondering if he's trouble.

    I am a total grammar nerd and have the strongest urge to mess with your commas.

  22. That first line is awesome. I love these two characters right away. They seem like very authentic teen boys--trouble makers, but it's all in good fun. You did a great job building a lot of character in a short amount of space!

    Thanks so much for sharing :)

  23. @franklycreative- thanks!

    @marie- the tractor event does come back later... :0)

    @Francesca- you are SO right. I just re-read and blushed in embarrassment. My commas are all over the place. I'm going to go remove a few... Thanks for pointing that out.

    @Kristina- thanks, and thanks for hosting!

  24. Interesting sart! I like your MC's voice--smart-ass kid up to mischief in the middle of the night. Curious to know how the tractor incident is going to come back and bite them on the ass. :)

  25. This is wonderful! I love the voice here. And grandma? Ah, she's awesome. I'm going to e-mail you some thoughts, mainly because I don't feel like copying and pasting stuff into this little box!

  26. I agree, the voice is great!

    "pressing his face into his chest"

    Not sure about this...gave me weird Exorcist-like visions ;)

  27. I like your voice, too! And I'd agree with Trisha, the whole face into neck thing did confuse me. But I really like Kai, he seems like fun!

    Awesome start! :D


YAY for comments! Thanks for adding to the conversation.