Saturday, October 29, 2011

CT First Page #5

TITLE: Riding the Dam
GENRE: MG humor, coming-of-age

Today was like any other summer day in San Angelo--hot, dry, and full of possibilities.  Today was the day Raymond and I were going to ride the dam. This was not just any dam, but the biggest dam in the world.  I never questioned this fact, but simply understood if it was in Texas, it had to be the biggest.
Raymond and I both had bicycles, but I had decided early on that it was a lot of work to pedal around looking for ways to spice up our days, so I convinced Raymond to let me ride on his handlebars while he did the pedaling.  I told him that this arrangement allowed for easier conversation. This method was not without risks. Some kids got their toes cut off in the spokes of a bike riding like this, so I developed toes like an eagle's talons to wrap around the front axle.

It took us thirty minutes to get to the extreme end of the dam and there, we began our slow assent to the highest point.  It was straight uphill and Raymond was pedaling, almost standing straight up.  This was going to be harder than I thought.  Raymond almost immediately began to question his supplying all the man power as I did the navigating.  It took a lot of convincing, but I explained that in addition to providing good conversation, I could watch for rattlesnakes.  Raymond was deathly afraid of rattlesnakes. We'd never seen any; but I reminded Raymond that it was always a possibility.


  1. I think you need a 'that' in 'understood it was in Texas.' Otherwise it sounds like your character understands things if it's in Texas but not necessarily if it's out. Nice characterisation. :)

  2. This came across to me as too wordy and telly for MG. I felt removed from what was going on with the MC and Raymond. The MC told me they were riding bicycles, that Raymond was questioning the arrangement, that he was afraid of rattlesnakes, but I was never shown this. I would rework this scene to show their slow, arduous assent to the dam instead of simply telling us. You've got a good premise, and I love the setting. Good luck with this! :)

  3. I have the same thoughts as Jessica. When his friend was pedaling up the hill, I want to hear how hard he's breathing or how much sweat is dripping off his forehead. More showing would really spice this up. Good luck!

  4. Try getting inside the mc's head from the very beginning, you'll be showing instead of telling. Something along the lines of:
    It had to be the biggest dang dam in the world. Texas was the biggest state, right? Or however he would talk. Also, dialog would liven things up and be another way to show vs. tell. Try to get your characters speaking early on, and again when the words "question" and "explaining" come up, those are clues that you might be able to create dialog in place of questioning and explaining. Paragraph 2 is gorgeous, really strong. The story itself sounds interesting, but work on creating a sense of immediacy. Best wishes with this! -- skywriter, posting as Anon due to tech difficulty

  5. I agree it's a bit wordy, especially for MG.
    Example first paragraph: "Today started out like any other summer day in San Angelo--hot, dry and full of possibilities. Except today was the day Raymond and I were going to ride the the biggest dam in the world. It's in Texas, so that means it has to be the biggest."

    Something like that. And also more feeling and emotion.

  6. Thanks lots! I've taken your advice and put in some dialogue. How about -
    This was going to be harder than I thought.
    Raymond was trying to catch his breath and in rhythm with each down pedal, said, "Why. Am I. The one. Always. Doing. The pedaling?"
    We had had this discussion a million times so I said, "You know good and well, this way I can watch for rattlesnakes."
    Too much??

  7. Yes! That really brings it to life. Keep doing what you're doing, stay inside the characters' heads and let us see how they think and speak. Excellent revision! -- skywriter

  8. Many thanks to everyone who stopped by to comment and to K.T.!