Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday Mania: First Page

One of our readers submitted his first page. Feel free to make comments, but please keep them constructive.

Critique Archive 0007:

Chapter one
- Twin Cars -

“Ben, it’s almost midnight,” Mom yelled up from the family room. “Are you going to go get David or not?”

“Yeah, I’m going,” I called back. “Just a sec. I need to save my game first.” I was right in the middle of my favorite computer game, and it wasn’t all that easy to just quit, unless I wanted to start all over again the next time. Mom never could understand that. After a few more of my favorite moves and maneuvers, I finally got to a breaking point and exited out.

“Which car do you want me to take?” I yelled down the stairs. Mom and Dad were down there watching a movie for their Friday-night date.

“Your mom’s, I guess,” Dad answered. “Mine’s almost out of gas . . . unless you want to fill it up on your way.”

“No, thanks,” I answered. I grabbed the red key ring from the hook on the wall and headed for the garage.

I still couldn’t get over Mom and Dad’s twin cars. They had identical Toyota Corollas. Dad had bought his the year before, and they both liked it so well that when it came time for Mom to have a new car, she decided to get another one just like it. Except for hers being a year newer, they were exactly the same in every possible way—right down to being absolutely spotless inside and out. Mom and Dad both came majorly unglued if any of us kids ever left so much as a gum wrapper on the seats. And heaven forbid we would ever even think about climbing in the car with dirty feet. Holy Schmoly, the whole world would come to an abrupt end.

Of course, they were different colors. We had to be able to tell them apart somehow. I didn’t know what Dad was thinking, though. If it had been me, I’d have given the ugly green one to Mom and kept the shiny new red one for myself.

Exiting the kitchen, I automatically headed for the nearest vehicle. Mom always parked hers by the door, presumably because she was the one with groceries to unload all the time. And Dad, being the perfect gentlemen, parked on the far side without any complaint . . . most of the time, anyway.

I was almost to the driver’s door when I just happened to glance at Dad’s twin car and realized
that Mom’s red one was over there. They were parked in the wrong spots.

“I hate it when they do that,” I mumbled to myself.

If Dad was driving Mom’s car for some odd reason, he always hit his own button on the garage door opener and then parked in his spot without even thinking about it. If we had one big garage door instead of two separate ones, that wouldn’t be a problem.

I reversed direction and headed around to the driver’s door of Mom’s red car.

It was then that I just happened to glance back at Dad’s car … and saw the real problem. At first all I could do was stare. Then I reversed direction again and went straight back in the house.

“Hey, Dad,” I yelled down the stairs, “you said to take Mom’s car, right? The red one?”

“That’s what I said,” he answered. “Why? Is it out of gas, too?”

I could just imagine him poking Mom in the ribs and winking at her.

“It can’t be,” Mom answered to Dad. “I just filled it up yesterday.”

“No, that’s not it,” I answered. “The problem is Dad’s car.”

“What about my car?” he asked, suddenly sounding very serious.

“Well … you better come and see for yourself. You’re not going to believe this.”

“Why? What happened?”

By that time, the video had been paused, and both of them were dashing up the stairs with that don’t-tell-me-you-crashed-my-car kind of look on their faces.

I just silently led them to the garage, threw open the door, and stepped back to watch. Predictably, they both just stood there staring, looking back and forth at the twin cars, over and over.

“I … I don’t understand,” Mom finally managed. “They’re both … red.”

“Duh,” I said. “You get an A-plus in Eye Test.”

5 comments:

Janette Rallison said...

Very cute. It makes me want to read more. (Perhaps I'm partial because I have twin cars in Fame, Glory, and Other Things On My To Do List) I have two comments for you. First in the sentence: “No, thanks,” I answered. I grabbed the red key ring from the hook on the wall and headed for the garage.
I would take out the "I answered" It's not needed since the next sentence is action that works like a tag line, and then you won't use the word answered twice in a row. (It's in the tag line above.)

Also, the last sentence where the kid says, "Duh," I'd change the duh. Duh sounds mouthy. We'll like the character better if he smiles, or laughs or something.

Josi said...

I liked it as well, you have a great grasp on good dialogue and 'showing' elements and the 'hook' shows up in just the right place. Well done.

I agree with both of Janette's points, and suggest only that you tighten up the part when you talk about the online game, maybe start with "Mom never understood that I couldn't just stop a game anywhere I wanted" it seemed to go on a little too long.

also, why aren't the parent's picking Ben up? They're both home and to send another teenager out so late seems strange--you can easily fix it by saying something to effect that they never interrupted their date nights if it could be helped, or they took full advantage of having another driver in the house, or he had wanted to pick up Ben--just show us the motivation and it's all good.

Heather B. Moore said...

Overall, it's a fun beginning. You have some "extras" that can be removed to tidy up a bit. i.e. Mom yelled up from the family room [delete "up"]; I called back [delete "back"]. Also you might consider changing the "answered"'s to "said." You only have one "I said" at the very end.

I was a little lost on WHEN the mom's car was purchased. Hadn't the teenager seen it yet? Maybe you can clarify that the car was just barely purchased.

Great job.

Bill T. said...

Agree with both reader comments and the one from Heather. I have made a few changes, however, have no way to highlight them. Maybe Heather will add that feature.

“Ben, it’s almost midnight,” Mom yelled from the family room. “Are you going to go get David or not?”

“Yeah, I’m going,” I called back. “Just a sec. I need to save my game first.” I was right in the middle of my favorite computer game, and it wasn’t all that easy to just quit, unless I wanted to start all over again the next time. Mom never could understand that. After a few more of my favorite moves and maneuvers, I finally got to a breaking point and exited out.

“Which car do you want me to take?” I yelled down the stairs. Mom and Dad were down there watching a movie for their Friday-night date.

“Your mom’s, I guess,” Dad answered. “Mine’s almost out of gas . . . unless you want to fill it up on your way.”

“No, thanks,” I answered. I grabbed the red key ring from the hook on the wall and headed for the garage.

I still couldn’t get over Mom and Dad’s twin cars - identical Toyota Corollas. Dad had bought his first, and they both liked it so well that the next year Mom decided to get another one just like it. Except for the color and year, they were exactly the same in every possible way—right down to being absolutely spotless inside and out. Mom and Dad would both become unglued if any of us kids ever left so much as a gum wrapper on the seats. And heaven forbid we would ever even think about climbing in the car with dirty feet. Holy Schmoly, the whole world would come to an abrupt end.


Bill T.

Julie Wright said...

Be careful with the word "Just." It's one of those words that can be easily overused. I agree with all the other comments. Less focus on the game and favorite maneuvers would get to the hook faster. Yet it would be nice to know how old ben is and what he's doing. It would be common for the brother to grumble about having to drop everything for a younger sibling.

Maybe when you say the cars are identical in every way, you can explain right at the beginning that they are identical in every way *except* the color. Because I first imagined them as both being red and it was tough for me to change that image in my mind when you finally mention one was green. So when we found out they were both red, my mind didn't feel the surprise because I already pictured them that way. Great job. Great beginning.