Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February Test Run #8

TITLE: Apple Boxes

It was the third day of summer vacation. I had over eighty days to relax and enjoy my freedom before starting the eighth grade. I painted my toe tails with a glittery purple polish. I cleaned my room and threw out all my old school work. I had a fresh stack of books from the library waiting to be read. I had the house mostly to myself, if you didn’t count the cat and my dorky little sister. Life was about as good as it could get for a girl like me, and it lasted until I heard the garage door opener come to life.

 “Hey Jay-Bird, are you in there?” I heard Dad holler into the house from the garage, “I need you to come out here and give me a hand.” My dad doesn’t particularly tolerate dawdling, so I tossed my book aside and headed to the garage.
At the sight of my dad’s truck I froze and my heart sank at a nauseating rate. The truck was parked in the driveway and the back was filled with empty apple boxes.
“Dad, does this mean what I think it means?”
“Do you think it means we’re moving?” he replied with a tinge of his usual sarcasm.
“Well, it’s the first thing that came to mind.” I sassed back.
“Then yes, oh Observant One, you are correct.”
Apple boxes. It’s always apple boxes. Occasionally a banana box finds its way home, but mostly apple.


  1. I had a little bit of trouble getting into this opening--I think it's because you have that whole, long paragraph of description at the beginning before you launch us into the first actual scene. If you could center us in that scene instead, and save describing how she spent her day and all that for later, it would make this opening draw the reader in a lot stronger. Good luck!

  2. I disagree with the comment above. I think the first paragraph is important to get a feel for the character's ordinary world and give greater impact to the disruption. My suggestion would be to change the sentences a bit so that most of them don't start with "I had." If you take those echos out, I think it will be more engaging.

    I would also trim this action beat so you don't repeat garage too much:
    >“Hey Jay-Bird, are you in there?” []Dad holler[ed] into the house[].

    And “I need you to come out here and give me a hand” is a bit long. I would say either , “I need []a hand [out here]” or “come out here and give me a hand.”

    I hope this helps. I like the apple boxes.

  3. I liked this beginning too. The only thing I would change is your opening line.

    One line that stood out to me was, "Life was about as good as it could get for a girl like me." You could add to that and reveal a little about her from the start. It sounds like "girls like her" don't expect too much of a good life. Reveal her problem or hint at why life stinks for her from the 1st line.

    "Life was about as good as it could get for a girl like me, a girl tossed around by my dad's job." Or something like that.

    Overall, I like the premise and want to find out more about her and her family. :) Nice job!

  4. I agree with Julia above. I had a little trouble with the opening paragraph, it reads too much like a list to me, instead of a more natural opening.
    I really liked the apple boxes and the implication there and would perhaps even suggest just opening with the Dad arriving home and breaking the first paragraph up and fitting into the story later.
    Hope this helps!
    Good luck!

  5. I think you can sort of split the difference here.

    The opening paragraph is great in that it sets the scene and helps the reader feel more oriented to her situation. The problem is it also reads a little distant. I'd like to feel more drawn into the immediacy of what's happening, and I think you could do that with very minor re-shuffling/tweaking.

    Maybe start with the third sentence and make it a bit more active:

    "I wiggled my toes - nails glinting with glittery purple polish. It was the third day of summer vacation. I had over eighty days ..."

    And like Patchi said, if you can rework some of the sentences so they don't start with "I had" it'll be tighter too.

    Overall though, I really like this, and I LOVE that it's always apple boxes. And I having moved, I totally know why! (though technically you're not supposed to bring them across state lines) ;)

  6. I like how the playfulness of the first paragraph gets stopped in its tracks after the MC sees the apple boxes. Nicely done.

    I agree with some of the word choices the others have suggested. I'd add that instead of starting the first several sentences with "I" in the opening paragraph, perhaps you could vary how they begin. Those opening lines would also be perfect for us to get into the MC's head by showing us how she's feeling with those beautiful 80 days where nothing could go wrong. :)

  7. Thanks you all - great feedback! This was quite the experiment. The first paragraph is totally new, as I got a lot of conflicting comments previously about starting with dialogue... Perhaps I just need to mesh and mold a little. Happy writing!!