Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Mania: First Page

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

Critique Archive 0013:

1979

· The USSR invades Afghanistan.
· Sony introduces the Walkman at a retail price of two hundred dollars.
· The price of gas is a staggering eighty-six cents per gallon.
· China institutes the one-child-per-family rule to help control the population.
· The Knacks are at the top of the charts with, ‘My Sharona’.
· Fonzie is king (“Eyyy,”).
· Robin Williams is running around in really tight pants, coining phrases such as “Shazbit” and of course “Nanu, nanu”.
· In the Sahara desert, it snows for thirty minutes.
· The world says goodbye to long-time idol John Wayne.
· And, on August 22nd at 12:26 a.m I enter the world

OK, so maybe me for John Wayne isn’t the best trade you’ve ever heard of but one would think that at five pounds some odd ounces I was fairly cute at least. I’d like to go on and on about how I was born. I’d like to tell you about how my entire family gathered around, happily anticipating my arrival and how joyous they were when I finally came. How they passed me around from one person to the next, cooing and smiling and tickling my little toes. I’d like to tell you all of these things and more, but I can’t. Although I’m sure my mother at least was happy to see me, this is a story that I cannot tell because it’s a story I’ve never heard. No one has ever told me about the day I was born. There is no baby book of which I’m aware to record the memories, no pictures that I have seen. The earliest picture I recall seeing of myself was taken when I was nearly a year old, practically bald with a rather large forehead.

5 comments:

Julie Wright said...

I really like beginning with all the other facts of this year. I like that you compare your birth as a trade in where the world gets you in trade for John Wayne. Whoever you are, I'm not all that fond of John Wayne so I say it's a good trade.

What I am missing here is the sense of feeling. It starts out a bit comedic with the trade in comment, but is this a comedy? Towards the end I feel that we might be reading the set up for something less than humorous, but I can't tell.

I imagine that were I to read more, I'd likely have my answer in the next few paragraphs.

The writing is strong. The beginning is interesting enough that I want to know more. But I would like to know what the story is. Is it one of triumph? One of sorrow? One of great humor?

You also need to break that big paragraph into a couple of smaller ones. Maybe start a new paragraph at "No one has ever told me . . ."

And I'd like to know who your audience is. Who are you writing this for?

Good job!

Heather B. Moore said...

I like the beginning too. It seems that you are setting us up for something really big or something really unusual--why your birth or childhood was far from average. So it is intriguing in that way.

I agree that the first paragraph is too long, especially after being given a list of facts.

You might want to par down the list of facts, just so that we jump into the story quicker.

Annette Lyon said...

Sounding like a broken record here--I pretty much agree with Julie and Heather. The list idea is neat, but probably needs to be trimmed so you get moving to the point faster. I also want a clearer tone--is this a book that will make me laugh or cry? (Are we talking Angela's Ashes or Dave Barry? Or something in between?)

It would also be neat if you could work a clearer connection (emotionally or otherwise) into one of the current events and your birth--something stronger than John Wayne.

You've got a great voice and a good start here.

Crystal Liechty said...

I agree with the other comments. The writing is clever and the character seems well thought out and real, but I'm not sure why I should care what this persons story is. Give me a reason to.

Mishi Burton said...

Thank you all for your feedback. It has been very helpful. One thing I realized is that I need to go through and take a look at all of my paragraphs (LOL). They don't look quite so long in manuscript form, but I can definitely see what you mean while looking at it in this format.

Most of the questions addressed are indeed answered in the next few paragraphs as well as in the foreword. As for the tone, I can see how this excerpt would confuse you. Julie, you were correct in your feeling towards the end of the piece, most of the events and topics addressed throughout are indeed less than humorous however, in my writing I've tried to stay true to myself in that I try to see the humor in every situation. Perhaps with it being confusing in the very beginning, I should rework this...but at the same time, it's who I am and I tend to hope that not long into the story it becomes clear.

The book is written for a general audience. My goal is for anyone who reads it to be able to take a little something away with them once the covers close.

And Annette, I hope to be able to make you both laugh AND cry before all is said and done. :)