Sunday, June 26, 2011

Birthday Blowout First Page Contest Entry

Want the opportunity to show the first page (250 words) of your completed manuscript to Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency? Check out Shelly Watters’ site Is It Hot In Here or Is It This Book?

I look forward to reading your entry and repaying the favor. Thank you for reviewing my entry below.
Title: The Silver Strand
Genre: MG Fantasy Adventure
Word count: 55,000
First 250 words:

“Let me pluck your silver hair.” 

Bianca’s stumpy fingers crept up Isabelle’s arm and she swiped them away.  “Shhhh!”  Her skin crawled as if everyone on the crowded school bus heard her loud-mouthed friend and now stared at the girl with the freaky, silver strand.  Isabelle glanced backward at the rows of black vinyl seats.  A seventh grade boy gave a kid across the aisle a dead arm and his mates whooped.  Four rows behind her, a group of girls competed in blowing gum bubbles. 

“Pleeaasssse.”  Bianca’s almost invisible eyebrows drew together and she made a sad, puppy dog face. 

Sinking in her seat, Isabelle hunted through her honey-brown hair for the silver strand.  Thick like a skewer, it resembled polished silver, and sent tingles rippling through her fingertips.  A little voice inside her head begged her to leave it alone.  But it had caused nothing but trouble since sprouting.  Like the time in science class when magnets attracted it as if it was made of metal.  Boy that spooked her lab partner.  And news of her freaky hair spread like wildfire.  Twirling the strand around her finger, Isabelle looked at her friend, suddenly feeling torn about getting rid of it. 

Bianca sighed and slumped in her seat.  “Fine,” she said, using her navy school blazer to wipe a year’s worth of smudges from her glasses.  “Don’t whine to me next time someone calls you, grandma.”  She mimicked the high pitched old lady’s voice that had haunted Isabelle for two months. 


  1. I like it and would be interested in finding out what the silver strand means. A few minor suggestions:
    make sure reader knows what dead arm means because I don't.
    spread like wildfire is a cliche and there were a few phrases that jumped out at me that I thought could be a bit smoother, blowing gum bubbles, would it just be blowing bubbles? and spooked out would it just be spooked. Other than that, I think it's a good start and very interesting premise.

  2. Really? Dead arm is punching them real hard to create a bruise. Thanks for advising me. I shall change it.

  3. Hi Louisa
    Really liked the silver stand thing.
    In my story, Grett has silver hair too...and it starts doing interesting things. And she also has a voice inside her (that starts talking to her a couple pages in).
    I was confused a lot of the time due to pronoun confusion. I didn't who know many of the "her" and "she" referred to. Lots of "it" in there as well which can be ambiguous.
    Not sure what dead arm is but I'm a grumpy old man.
    The last paragraph was confusing.
    I wanted something a little more impactful than "felt torn" about the hair. I want to really feel both how she feels when people tease her and how she feels when she touches it on a deeper level.
    Want a few more examples of the hair's bad behavior.
    Very intriguing start!

  4. Hahaha, this is a cute story. I had a silver strand of hair at my temple when I was in my teens. I did pull it and more replaced it. Anyway, I didn't know what dead arm meant either. 'Spread like wildfire' is a cliche so maybe you can mix it up like 'spread like spilled milk' or something that spreads fast and is kid-like. I like the reference of blowing gum bubbles, leaving it out would be vague, I think. I'd work on your second sentence, it's a little confusing at first. Maybe use "She winced, worrying that everyone on the crowded school bus could hear..." or something. Love this story! Good luck! :D

  5. I'm intrigued. Just a bit confused. Not sure, with the first line, which girl has a freaky strand. I think this strand turns people old if they touch it?

    I would want to read on to figure it out.

    Good luck.

  6. The silver strand is interesting. I want to know what it means. But I think I want to know a little more about it in the first page, or at least know that it has a strong meaning behind it rather than a vague one.
    BTW...I didn't know what a dead arm was either.

  7. I know what dead arm means! It must be cultural. I'm Australian. I got a great visual when I read that.
    This silver strand of hair seems spooky.

  8. I admit, I didn't know what dead arm was either, which sucks, because now that I know, I love it and don't want you to change it :)

    I LOVE the 'freaky strand' idea! I had a close friend in high school who had dark hair and treated any random grey strand the same way. I love the idea of a young character dealing with grey hair that might have it's own strange powers. Really enjoyed your entry and good luck!

  9. I know what "dead arm" is, and I'm from New York. I thought everyone knew...

    Are they on the back of the bus or the front? Because she looks "backwards at the rows of black vinyl seats" on a "crowded bus". If she's looking backward, I'd assume she's looking behind her, and then she can see the rows of black vinyl seats... but describing forward-facing seats as "black vinyl" makes them seem empty, and the bus is supposed to be crowded. If she's in the back of the bus and she looks up and sees the rows of black vinyl seats, she's not looking backwards anymore. I can't figure it out and I don't want to be distracted by it.

    My suggestion: read this to yourself, aloud. See if it flows as you like. There was some comma placement in there too I might change. Nice work, but I think it might need another polish (trust me, I know all about polishing a draft. 12 drafts of my last play. Yeesh.) Keep writing, and don't let 'em get you down! - Tom H.

    Check out my first 250?

  10. I'm surprised people don't know what dead arm is! And I'm from Idaho!! :)

    Loved gum bubbles and spooked out! I think that's great voice.

    Agree about the cliche and empty sounding, but full seat issue.

    Totally intrigued by this grey strand though! Good luck!

  11. Love the premise of the silver strand here, and as an Aussie I knew what a dead arm was... great description. Would love to keep reading this and find out what makes this silver strand special. Best of luck.

  12. I found the first paragraph a little stilted - maybe try reading it aloud to see where you may have missed little word - but after that it read smoother.

    I like the magnetic element of the strand. That could cause chaos around electrical appliances and various other things... What fun!