Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"First Sentence Contest" at The Storyteller's Scroll



FIRST SENTENCES IN A FLASH!

First sentences must be dynamic from the very first glance.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” — 1984 – George Orwell

See what I mean…

As writer’s we often struggle with our opening lines. The story might be fantastic, but if we don’t get the reader hooked in the beginning they’ll never get to our wonderful story.

You want a reader to get that unmistakable “WOW!” feeling at the start. Something ticks in their brain that tells them they absolutely MUST read your story, be it picture book or novel!

So to help polish all those first lines we have a new contest this month:

FIRST SENTENCES IN A FLASH!

Have the first sentence of your manuscript critiqued by an award winning children's author and fiction editor from Stories for Children.

Roxanne Werner has graciously offered her expert eye at evaluating the strength of your opening line. Be it picture book or novel, she will give you a star rating.

4 stars = excellent
3 stars = very strong
2 stars = average interest
1 star = needs to be rewritten

All participants will receive a rating and the top two will win a further critique from Ms. Werner.

First place – the first novel chapter or the whole picture book
Second place – the first page.

Contest runs for 1 week, starting today. February 1st to February  7th.

1. You must be a follower of The Storyteller Scroll to enter.

2. Type your first sentence in the comment section below and indicate the work’s genre.

3. Miss Werner will comment on every opening line.

Next Wednesday, February 8th, The Storyteller Scroll will announce winners

You may contact Miss Werner at her website for her professional opinion to finish critiquing your work or for further information at:



163 comments:

  1. I fought the tickle, my nose to the blackboard, stifling the urge to sneeze.

    YA Mystery

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rating: One Star *

    There were two reasons why I felt this needed to be rewritten. The first and most important was that the sentence didn't flow. The clauses seemed tacked on and on my first read through I almost felt a word had been omitted.

    The second reason was that for a YA mystery, I was not that curious about chalk making someone feel like sneezing. I did wonder why the sneeze had to be stifled so the rest of your first paragraph may have enough in it to hook me and make me continue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am immediately curious. Is this a teacher? A student writing punishment lines? Preparing a rude greeting for the teacher?

      The sentence is evocative to anyone who has spent their life breathing in the fumes of chalk, black poster paint and other less mentionable school odours.

      Delete
  3. Chloe smoothed out the patchwork quilt, folded her nightie, tucked it under
    the pillow.

    YA - orphan trying to discover her roots

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      I would rewrite this sentence so it is not so list like. If nothing else, I would include the and between nightie and tucked.

      I am also worried because the scene seems to be of the character just waking up. The morning 'get out of bed' opening is usually a killer for editors. The want books to open at a decisive moment. This may be one, but I am unable to tell from one sentence. I did like the fact that I learned about the character's personality. She is neat, methodical and perhaps is holding onto a quilt tied to her past?

      Delete
    2. I hoped to demonstrate her institutionalisation. But yes, indeed - she does have an object linked to her family. Title of the book is "The Silver Button."

      Delete
    3. Shirley,

      I think you have hit that. I felt she was 'neat and methodical' which would be in line with habits enforced by an institution. Of course from only one sentence I wouldn't automatically jump to an institution.

      Delete
    4. Thank you. Your time much appreciated.

      Delete
  4. Rogan had never eaten a knight before, but there was a first time for everything.

    PB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating four stars ****

      I love the rhythm of this sentence when read aloud which is so important to a picture book.

      I'm also hooked right away. Is Rogan a dragon? Why doesn't he usually eat knights? What's different this time? Will the knight be saved? I want to turn the page.

      Delete
  5. Knight Peter wanted to be the biggest, bravest knight ever.

    PB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      This depends on where you go with the second sentence. I'm not really curious at this point. Many children want to be the best, biggest, bravest. There's not much to peak my interest. No strong verb in 'wanted.' And nothing much unusual.

      Delete
  6. By the time the final words at the King’s funeral were spoken, I felt nauseated by incense and overwhelmed by the urge to become a trespasser.

    YA Fantasy

    Thanks for the critique opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      You really grabbed my attention at the end with 'the urge to become a trespasser.' I'd give it a four star if you could tighten it. You're trying to squeeze too much into one sentence and it loses its punch.

      Delete
  7. Not sure if we're allowed to enter more than one manuscript's opening sentence. If another is allowed:

    Just past three o’clock in the afternoon, when schools across South London were releasing much-adored children by the bucketful, Tabitha Crum was let out as well.

    MG Mystery

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      Again you seem to grab me at the end of your sentences. Who is Tabitha Crum? Obviously not a child being let out of class, so I am curious. But the beginning of the sentence weighs it down. I'd try to be punchier with your opening lines.

      Delete
    2. My replies keep disappearing.

      I do want the author to know that I understood the sentence differently/ Tabitha Crum is surely a child - but not a much-adored child. The irony works for me and I would love to read more of the story

      Delete
  8. Dark blood seeded with grains of puss filled the boils, but this was not the worst part of my encounter with the old gargoyle who took me to the far side of this moldering swamp, it is just the lingering after effect.

    YA- villain-free fiction, titled The Vegan Witch's Toad
    Sherrie Theriault

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      Too long and descriptive to grab my interest. This sentence belongs further in not as an opening line.

      Delete
  9. If I had created the world, I would have made hotdogs a vegetable.

    PB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating three stars ***

      Love the line. My only reservation is that the voice sounds too old for a picture book. Feels more like a mid-grade character.

      Delete
  10. Mind Games - YA

    They say a mother and child bond at birth, but my mother’s connection must be made of genetic superglue.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Rating three stars ***

    Nice voice. I'd like more of a hook on where this is going though. I've read many similar openings where a child complains of the mother's over attachment. I'd cut 'genetic.' I'd also change it to 'connection is made of superglue.'

    ReplyDelete
  12. {Sorry if this is duplicated; I've had some issues commenting on blogspot blogs lately!}

    Louella McGuffey wanted to holler, but all she could do was hum.

    PB

    --Carter Higgins

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating three stars ***

      Nice rhythm and read aloud quality. I like the alliteration between holler and hum makes the contrast stand out even more. Curious as to why the character can't holler. Why she wants to holler? And why she ends up with a hum? Good hook.

      Delete
  13. Perhaps, perhaps,on Monday, I could measure how big the round, brilliant moon is with a jump rope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You didn't mention the genre on your two lines.

      I'm going to assume this is a picture book.

      Rating two stars **

      Nice imagery measuring the moon with a jump rope, but the sentence is too descriptive for a Picture Book where the illustrator would handle the big, round, brilliant moon. I also found the repetition of perhaps at the beginning distracting. I am curious why you can only measure the moon on a Monday.

      Delete
  14. Not sure if two entries are allowed...so disregard if need be.. thanks!!


    It was not in my backpack.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Again no genre stated. I'm assuming mid-grade because of backpack?

      Rating two stars **

      I want to know what it was. I would read on a bit. But I think you could put a bit more bait on the hook.

      Delete
  15. Not sure if we're allowed to submit more than once so ignore if it's not allowed.

    Princess Cassandra accidentally stabbed herself with her sewing needle.

    MG Fantasy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. rating one star *

      The sentence is flat. It doesn't give us 'voice' or character insight. It doesn't give us anything particularly unusual either. I've often stuck myself when sewing. Even the sentence structure is standard subject verb. I would try enlivening this somehow.

      Delete
  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Rupert hated his webbed feet . . . happy ever after shouldn't only happen in fairytales.

    PB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. rating two stars **

      Liked it at Rupert hated his webbed feet. The second half seemed tacked on. I was curious. Why does he hate his webbed feet? Is he a duck or a child with webbed feet? Or a frog? Of course illustrations would answer me. But in a picture book simple statements work.

      Delete
    2. Rupert is a lonely frog who dreams of being a prince.

      Delete
    3. Nice! I like the role reversal. Will he be turned into a prince and need a beautiful frog to rescue him back to himself?

      Delete
  18. I just want to pause to make a general statement about first sentences here.

    If the first sentence you entered is from a novel, it's not the end of the world if it didn't grab my attention. First because it is only my opinion and there are other editors with other preferences, but more importantly because I believe in a novel you have at least the first paragraph to hook your reader. I'm not saying you shouldn't have a strong first sentence, but many writers stress so much over the opening line and try to cram everything into it. Give yourself a paragraph with a novel. Don't feel the need to force everything plus the kitchen sink into that opening line.

    Picture book writers do not get that luxury. Picture books are so short that the first sentence is proportionally equal to a first chapter. You must grab the reader with that first sentence. Often only one sentence is on the first page of a picture book and if the reader isn't hooked by it into turning the page. You're finished.

    What really makes an opening line stand out?

    1. Voice-the way your character introduces himself. This can be amazingly simple. We all remember "Call me Ishmael." Only three words. Simple but effective.

    2. Something unusual or intriguing- Gayle's example from Orwell- 'the clocks were striking thirteen.' That certainly grabs your attention.

    3. Saying something normal in an unusual way. This is voice again. "The past is a foreign country;they do things differently there." The Go-Between. It's not so strange to say the past is different than now, but the way the writer puts it makes you take notice.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The world exploded during science class.

    MG sci-fi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating three stars ***

      Simple, direct and certainly makes me curious.

      Delete
  20. The phone rings in the middle of the night, sounding like a first degree fire alarm.

    YA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating three stars ***

      I'm interested. Why is the phone ringing so late? Why is the character so jumpy that they compare it to a fire alarm. Not sure you need the 'first degree' modifier. First degree or one alarm fire would be the lowest level. So you are comparing the phone to something scary like a fire alarm and yet downplaying it at the same time by making it first degree.

      Delete
  21. My magic wand is broken.



    First sentence in first stanza of rhyming pb.

    C. Brooks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      It's hard to rate the first half of a rhyme. I know you're following the rules by giving us one sentence. But I wish you had included the second part.

      I do want to know why it is broken, who broke it and if it can be repaired. So I would read on.

      Delete
    2. Thank you.
      I'll resubmit with my first stanza below. It's a little awkward because I'm thinking the first stanza is probably like a first sentence, but if it's a dis-qualifier I'm okay with that. It's been fun. Thanks!
      My magic wand is broken.
      I tried and tried all day
      to make my brother vanish.
      He wouldn't go away!

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. As I said earlier rhyming PBs are not my area. But the rhythm and rhyme are strong. You haven't tried to do the illustrator's job by describing things. I hope you go all out comical with this. It has great possibilities for illustrations as she tries to lose her sibling.

      Delete
  22. The first sign of trouble should have been my disaster-free morning.

    MG Fantasy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      Good mid-grade voice. I want to know what the trouble is and more about the character so I would read on. Drawback is that this kind of statement is fairly common. Someone saying they knew a problem was coming because everything went right. You might look for something more unique to your character/situation to open with.

      Delete
  23. Ahoy! I am the cabin boy
    aboard the Salty Squid
    and here is how I earned me name:
    The Storytelling Kid.

    Rhyming PB (Okay technically two sentences b/c of "Ahoy!" but I figured the one word sentence wouldn't really convey much.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      Rhyming picture books are not my area. But I would turn the page to find out how he earned the name.

      Delete
  24. Curled in a wing-chair near the window, I switched on the lamp, and my book flew open.

    Early Middle Grade

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      You grabbed my attention. Why did the book fly open? Not sure we need all the description loaded at the front without knowing more of the story. Perhaps it would only happen in the wing chair and we need that information. If not, you might consider trimming the beginning a bit.

      Delete
    2. I'm glad I grabbed your attention. I see now that the sentence has a lot more impact without the chair, which I only used to ground the reader.

      Many Thanks

      (I switched on the lamp, and my book flew open revealing my next challenge.)

      Delete
  25. Something had to be done about that wildebeest.

    PB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating three stars ***

      Simple and direct. A good start for a picture book.
      I want to know what the wildebeest is up to, where it is and what will be done about it. I'd read on.

      Delete
  26. I left my childhood dolls behind and became a woman the year Faisal thundered into our lives on his blood-red Honda.

    YA Historical

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating three stars ***

      I definitely want to know more about the character and Faisal. The fact that you described the Honda as 'blood' red gives it an ominous feeling. I'm also curious about the opening. The character says she left her childhood dolls behind not her childhood. It gives me the feeling that emotionally she is still clinging to a part of her childhood or wishing she could.

      Delete
  27. If you didn't have to wear such stupid shoes, I could probably get into bowling.

    YA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating three stars ***

      Great teen voice. I'd read on to see why she is putting up with stupid shoes and bowling.

      Delete
  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  29. The day the cops come, everything changes.

    YA Contemporary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating Three stars ***

      Clean,direct and good hook.

      Delete
  30. In my family, you get one yellow balloon on your birthday.

    PB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      Interesting. I'd want to know why one balloon and why yellow. Feels a bit long for a PB line. I might try leaving out yellow. And putting yellow in a second sentence if the color is crucial. In my family, you get one balloon on your birthday. A yellow one.

      Delete
  31. YA

    There is was, the familiar twinge tugging at the back of my throat yanking me awake.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      I want to know what this twinge is so you have my interest. I have a few issues with the sentence though. I don't care for tugging and yanking in the same sentence.

      There it was, the familiar twinge at the back of my throat, yanking me awake.
      or

      There it was, the familiar twinge tugging at the back of my throat.

      With a second sentence saying that the character woke.

      You might consider dropping familiar also. If it is so familiar it probably wouldn't 'yank' you awake, although it might wake you. If something is familiar you are not so 'startled' as yank implies.

      Delete
    2. Thank you I greatly appreciate the feed back.

      Delete
  32. RUSTLE! RUSTLE! RUSTLE!
    Ha! Katie and Tom were frozen, one body was crawling on the first floor, who could it be?
    Children's story: 5-7
    Elham khatibi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ok a bit more than one sentence, but the exclamations we'll skip over and go to your first real sentence.

      Rating One star *

      I'm curious, so the content is interesting enough. The sentence construction needs work. I'd drop the Ha! That doesn't add anything. And switch out of passive tense. Katie and Tom froze, not were frozen.
      Depending on what was crawling, use either somebody or something. And lose the question at the end.

      Katie and Tom froze, somebody was crawling on the first floor.

      Delete
  33. The Death was waiting kindly beside me, and the life was twinkling at the end of that long, dark road, what should I do really?
    "Oh my God, I don’t know,"
    I yelled crying, and knelt down on snow.
    Novel

    ReplyDelete
  34. Rating one star *

    Again interesting enough, but the sentence needs work.

    Drop the 'articles' in front of life and death and switch from passive to active verb tense. Lose the question at the end. Change the 'and' to 'but' to indicate choice.

    Death waited kindly beside me, but life twinkled at the end of a long, dark road.

    ReplyDelete
  35. The air thrums with talk of the hottest barnyard dances and the coolest pool parties this last day of school, but I won't be going.

    YA contemp.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Rating two stars **

    Definitely want to know why the character will be missing everything. I like the contrast between hottest and coolest with both meaning the same thing. Not fond of thrums, but that's just a personal quirk and others may love it. The reason I don't bump to three stars is that it feels a bit long to me. Like your cramming too much into one sentence. I'd play with breaking it into two sentences with the same info and see how that feels.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Rating one star *

    Yes I want to know what Snerkle is. But I think I'd like to have some hint or foreshadow to make me really curious about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  40. 03/06 16:32
    Carter
    Whoa. Your mom's serious? SCOTLAND?

    (MG)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      This is one of those sentences that needs the rest of the paragraph to really engage me. Yes I'd be slightly curious about Scotland. The character's moving? But it doesn't really grab me as a stand alone sentence. It will depend on the rest of the first paragraph/page whether I'd keep reading.

      Delete
  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Snoofle,

      This is why it is so hard to judge a PB on a single sentence, because the pictures would obviously influence you. With the pictures to back you up, it would be clear that Snerkle is a key element to your main character's problem. I still would favor something to beef up this sentence. Perhaps a stronger verb. Was doesn't give us much.

      Delete
  42. Princess Izzy’s day had become a lava-spewing, about-to-explode, volcano kind of day.

    PB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      Tried reading this aloud and stumbled on the rhythm. It is not easy on the tongue which is so important in a PB. Not fond of starting with passive tense 'had become.'

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much for this opportunity it is a great exercise. Here is my retry

      Usually Princess Izzy's days shone a glorious golden yellow, but not today.

      Delete
  43. Where do you like to sleep?
    In your bed as warm as can be?

    A rhyming picture book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      Although I could be wrong from just these lines this feels like a very quiet bedtime book. It would take something to give it a fresh twist or slant as there are already so many stories published about this.

      Delete
  44. Of course, the eyeball had to roll under the sideboard, stopping three inches farther than I could stretch my fingers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      I need a new rating system. Many of the entries are 3 stars for interest but need work on the sentence structure so they all end up at two stars. Such is the case with yours.

      Definitely grabs my interest. I love the fact that the character is so calm about a 'rolling eyeball' and only annoyed because it is out of reach under the sideboard. I would reword to make it stronger. I prefer active verbs.

      Of course, the eyeball rolled under the sideboard, three inches farther than I could stretch my fingers.

      Delete
  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  46. "It's very foggy, I can't see who is playing with our kittens?"
    Sue murmured in terror, peering out the window.
    Children

    ReplyDelete
  47. Rating one star *

    This is not one sentence, even if we accept the dialogue tag as part of the second sentence.

    "It's very foggy. (one sentence) I can't see who is playing with our kittens?" Sue murmured in terror, peering out the window.

    It seems odd that someone playing with kittens would inspire terror. Also murmured does not seem the right tone for terror.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Emma loved dancing, but she never knew when to stop.

    PB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      Sounds like an interesting premise for a PB, however the sentence itself doesn't grab me. Is there another way you could present the same information that would make it livelier? I'd even prefer a brief clean statement.

      Emma never knew when to stop dancing.

      We know she loves to dance just from that without you 'telling' us her emotions.

      Delete
  49. My mother is a 125-pound walking contradiction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      Good tween or teen voice. Curious what the contradiction is. Is her weight or the contradiction central to the character's problem?

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Protag's mom writes about natural living for a holistic magazine, but has her plastic surgeon on speed dial!

      Thanks for your eagle eye. This is a wonderful contest. Your feedback is much appreciated.

      Delete
  50. I had a baby sister, but when she was born, she wasn’t strong enough to live. (pb)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      Not a PB voice. The topic sounds like it would be for older readers. Also the way this is worded is not the short almost poem like voice of a PB that would be read aloud to young children.

      Delete
    2. yes it is for families dealing with still birth. for 6 to 12year olds to help with the healing process, and talking about their lost baby. I am not sure of the 'name' for it. pictures still on each page, but not for 5years and under.
      Thank you again for your time.

      Delete
  51. Cody John had a great new toy car, but he got grumpy one day and he broke it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      I'm assuming all of your sentences are for PBs since the ones you marked were. This is again too wordy for a PB. PBs are driven by strong lively verbs. Your verbs are 'had', 'got' and 'broke.' 'Great' doesn't tell us anything. It is like 'nice.' Every word in a PB must count and be hand picked. Be specific when you use a modifier. And only tell us things that are necessary for the plot. Don't cross into the illustrator's territory.

      Delete
    2. thank you! *racers off to rewrite rewrite rewrite* ;)

      Delete
  52. Things go bump at grandma’s house! (pb)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      Better. Short and punchy. More playful and PB like.

      Delete
  53. last one.. thank you for this opportunity ;)

    There once was a boy, who lived in a house, on a hill in the centre of town. (pb)

    ReplyDelete
  54. Rating two stars **

    Sounds like the beginning of a cumulative story, like the old woman who swallowed a fly. So I'd read on a bit to see where you take it.

    ReplyDelete
  55. The essence that was Terry stirred in the darkness, hovering in the rafters, connected to his corpse by a thick silver chord.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      Too wordy. Try reading this aloud. 'Hovering in the rafters' is a misplaced participial phrase. It refers back to the subject 'essence', but reads as though it is 'the darkness' that is hovering. We don't need all these modifiers. Cut to the point. You can add descriptions later. You want to grab the reader's attention.

      The essential point you are trying to get across is that Terry is dead and yet still a being of some kind.

      Delete
  56. Last Christmas I was given, A Spray can of this MUCK
    When all that I was wanting, was a Bright Blue Shiny TRUCK!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Rating one star *

    Assuming rhyming PB

    Rhythm is off. Why are you capitalizing some words? This is really forced rhyme. Muck? A rhyme should read as though it was a normal sentence that just happens to rhyme. A child wouldn't say 'when all that I was wanting.' They would say I wanted a ... If you have to twist the normal sentence structure around to get your rhyme at the end, you're in trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I see what you mean, do you think this is better?
    Last Christmas I was given, a spray can of this muck.
    When the only thing I wanted, was a bright blue shiny truck

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. It is better because it is the way people really speak. But your rhythm is still off. I am not a rhymer myself. If you need a professional look at a rhyming PB. Gail the owner of this blog offers that service.

      Delete
    2. Thank you.
      Do you think it flows better if I leave out "When".
      Last Christmas I was given a spray can of this muck
      The only thing I wanted was a Bright Blue Shiny Truck.
      Wendy

      Delete
    3. Hi Wendy,

      It's not just the number of syllables that need to work. The accents or stresses have to fall in the right places. Perhaps 'when all I really wanted' but like I said earlier, creating rhymes is not my forte.

      Delete
  59. Hello,

    you have given me some good points to think about, thank you and I do like your suggestion.

    regards Wendy

    ReplyDelete
  60. Like windblown tumbleweed, Vinnie Javelina barrels out of the cave near the prickly pear cactus each morning.

    Picture book

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      With PBs usually 'less is more.' Descriptions are the illustrator's territory. Your job as writer is to give the actions, sounds, even smells. In other words the things that pictures can't convey. I don't see tumbleweed as 'barreling.' Yet you are comparing the two actions. I assume you did this just to establish a desert setting. Pictures will take care of that for you. Barrels is a nice strong verb.

      Delete
  61. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  62. At the aerial crossroads of the world, Tuk-tuk the collard lemming heard a sound that made him run behind a hilly hummock to hide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      Read your sentence aloud the ending is approaching tongue-twister. Alliteration is a powerful tool if used sparingly. Think of it as a special effect in a movie. If you had two hours of 'special effects', you would tire of them. A hummock is a mound or hill, so hilly hummock is redundant and unnecessary. Most picture books are 500 words or less. So every word must count. Again you are adding visuals which are the illustrator's job.

      Delete
  63. Wendy PB MS

    There was a hairy caterpillar
    his name was Mr. Clump
    cause every time he took a step
    his feet went Clump Clump Clump

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Wendy,

      Rating one star *

      I see Gail beat me to the fact that you can't rhyme a word with itself. But let's put that aside for a moment. You have 23 words here. In today's PBs many are 500 words or less. So you have used a good chunk of your word count and what have you given the reader? Have you moved the story along? Stated the character's problem? You can't waste words just to tell us a character's name.

      Delete
  64. Dear Wendy:

    Not to steal Roxanne's thunder here, but she has stated she is not a rhyming expert.

    I just wanted to let you know that you can't rhyme a word with itself!!!!

    Clump and Clump!

    ReplyDelete
  65. Inch by inch, the gaping mouth swallowed Matt’s body as the warning from the old women snaked through his brain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      We are often told by editors to start at a decisive moment in the story. However that doesn't necessarily mean to start with full blown action. The problem is the reader is not invested at this point with the character and we don't really know or care about Matt. I think you need to back up at least a few lines to ground us in the story before being eaten.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for comment.
      Matt's not being eaten, just lowering himself into a sinkhole cave . But point taken ...

      Delete
  66. Melissa PB
    Have you ever run so fast that you thought you might fly?well,that's exactly what happened to a little girl named Nelly.

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    Replies
    1. sorry had listed this as a PB but it young fiction

      Delete
    2. Rating one star *

      Your first sentence is the question directed at your reader. I my opinion the device of speaking directly to the reader like this is not effective. I would much prefer you to start with Nelly and her feelings, actions.

      Delete
  67. One day something swooshed through the treetops.

    PB

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    1. Rating three stars ***

      I'm curious. I like swooshed. It is a good PB verb.

      Delete
  68. Melissa PB
    There once was a boy who had a worry,the little boy knew he had to get somewhere but he couldn't remember why, or where, or how to get there.

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    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      Too long for a picture book opening.

      There once was a boy who had a worry- would have earned more stars.

      Delete
    2. thanyou for your comment. I am not sure if my story is PB .It is 1000 words. would that class it as young fiction. if so would the first sentance be suitable
      melissa.

      Delete
  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  70. Cool idea for a contest. Here's mine:

    Jade clung to the rock on the climbing wall, not daring to look down.

    MG novel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. rating two stars **

      I'm interested. Why is she up there if she is afraid of climbing? I'd read on a bit.

      Delete
  71. My mother and I were having an argument about lamps, specifically the plastic wrap that covered the shades.

    YA

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    Replies
    1. rating two stars **

      Yes I am curious. But I don't like opening in passive tense 'were having.'

      Delete
    2. "My mother and i are arguing about lamps - specifically the plastic wrap that covers the shades."


      Thank you!

      Delete
  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  73. Peter Fletcher weighed the fist-sized rock in his hand as he looked up the driveway.

    Contemporary MG Mystery/Thriller

    Thanks!

    (had to edit my first comment - accidentally included a second sentence)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      Do we need that he is looking up the driveway? It is much punchier without the extra clause.

      Delete
  74. The day the ceiling fell on him, Steffan was dreaming about drumming.

    MG Contemporary (and my second submission here, so if I'm not allowed this, please ignore it!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rating two stars **

      Interesting. I'd read on to find the connection. Would prefer straight past tense instead of was dreaming.

      Delete
  75. Tongues flicked when the reptiles saw the new sign at the Monitor School Flickcraft and Lizardry.

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    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      The sentence doesn't flow like a PB read aloud should. I do like the Monitor School of Flickcraft and Lizardy. Can you break this up and introduce the school name later? Who is your main character?

      Delete
  76. Cow got a lot of nice birthday gifts, but the best ones were a big hat with a flower on it and a pair of suspenders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. rating one star *

      Again this doesn't flow like a PB. Make sure to read your work aloud. The first part of this sentence wastes words. Got-very poor verb choice, a lot- doesn't tell us anything specific, nice- you should erase this word from your vocabulary. What exactly does 'nice' tell us?

      Delete
  77. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    Replies
    1. Rating one star *

      I'm assuming this is a teen boy speaking? If so, the voice doesn't work for me. The puppy smell is odd to me also, but this is only my opinion.

      Delete
    2. Carol Anne:

      The contest ended at noon today so this entry is disqualified.

      Delete
  78. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete