Jul 8, 2009


Click here to read the queries. Link goes to the revision, and the original is linked there.

So in the next coming months I’m going to finish polishing up my manuscript and send out the query letter to see what happens.

To make sure I’m heading in the right direction, I thought it would be a good idea to post the first few pages on here for all you wonderful people to view and critique. So here it is and thank you for your time and comments.


Monsters were following her right now. Amelia knew it. It didn’t matter where she went, or how far she traveled; they were following her, like wolves on the hunt. Daylight could only last for so long, and once it ended, and night took control of the day, she knew they would find her and continue to terrorize her from inside her closet.

Amelia rolled down the window and stuck her head out a little ways, the rushing wind drying out her eyes, causing them to water a little. Houses whizzed by her like a slideshow that showcased the city’s richness. Bright blue and yellow houses seemed as if they were going to collide with one another as the car drove by them. Sprinklers chattered in an attempt to keep the lawns quenched and satisfied from the summer’s heat. At first glance it seemed as if things were going to be different here for her and her family, but Amelia knew this wasn’t the case.

The car rolled up to a stop sign and Amelia pulled her head back into the car, tucking her brown hair behind her ears.

“You’re going to like it here,” Amelia’s dad said, peering through the rearview mirror.

Amelia looked back outside the window at the next row of houses that stretched out like a tie-dye wall on the other side of the intersection. She turned and looked at her cousin Lily sitting next to her and gave her a nervous smile. Lily tried to do the same, but it came out more like a twitch than a smile.

“Beautiful neighborhood, nice people, and a peaceful atmosphere,” Amelia’s dad continued to say. “Just what you two need.”

Amelia thought maybe this was what they needed. They grew up in the city—only five houses away from one another—where car alarms sounded, music blasted from nearby houses, and people screamed at one another. It was stressful and it didn’t help her or her cousin’s problems. The neighborhood did look quiet and peaceful; Amelia gave it that much.

Amelia turned once more to Lily and said, “Are you ok?”

Lily hadn’t said a word since they had gotten in the car, and that was over two hours ago. She turned to Amelia, brushed some of her blonde hair away from her eyes, and just nodded at Amelia.

Lily had always been quiet, and she kept to herself most of the time. The therapist tried to get her to talk, but she never said a word. When Amelia had sat on the couch in the waiting room of Dr. Ivan’s office, she could hear bits of Dr. Ivan’s conversation with Lily from inside his office. And from what Amelia could gather from listening, Dr. Ivan had seemed to do most of the talking, and not once did she hear Lily’s quiet chatter. The only time Amelia really heard Lily was when she had shifted in the squeaky black leather chair.

Amelia turned away from Lily and pressed the button to roll down the window, the soft electric hum ruining the silence as the window scrolled down till it slipped between its thin rubber doors.

There weren’t a lot of trees around, Amelia noticed, and she didn’t know how to feel about it. Her father told her that Evelyn Heights was a gated community and it was a lot different from their previous homes and neighborhoods. Here, Amelia noted, different must mean the same. It seemed the more they moved the less and less unique the neighborhoods became.

Before the monsters began to lurk in her closet and conceal themselves in the shadows of her room, and before they ever thought about moving, they had lived in a town where houses were all different shapes and colors and trees surrounded their old home. All day she would roam through the woods, looking at birds, bugs, and insects, inspecting dead trees and holes in the ground.

Of course, she didn’t do that anymore.


scott g.f.bailey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scott g.f.bailey said...

Hi, thanks for posting your first pages! I like the flow; it's gently melancholy. But I think there are two main problems with this opening:

1. The first paragraph sounds tacked on. It has no relation to anything that comes after until paragraph 13. I'd lose it.

2. This all feels like back-story, not like story. What's the first dramatic event in your book? You might consider starting there instead, and folding in some of this afterward. The observation about neighborhoods becoming less unique is good, but really, there was not much here to keep me from skimming. Nothing actually happens.

Another annoying comment: You use the following dangling modifier construction a couple of times in this, so I assume it's something you do a lot throughout the book: "Before the monsters began to lurk in her closet and conceal themselves in the shadows of her room, and before they ever thought about moving, they had lived in a town where houses were all different..." The subject of this sentence is "the monsters," so the last clause here means that the monsters had lived in a town where all the houses were different. "They" refers back to the subject, which is "monsters." You do a good job with sentence-type variety, but this dangling modifier error is common when you begin with a prepositional phrase, so keep an eye out!

The voice here is nice; it looks like this book would be a pleasurable read, but I'd advise starting somewhere further into the story.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I agree with Scott on this being a slow start with too much backstory. Were they forced to move somewhere quiet because of something that happened in the old house? Should you start there? Then perhaps you could show how the monsters terrorize her, instead of tell us they do.
The opening paragraph confused me because it says monsters are following and then it says they terrorize her from inside her closet. I had no idea where she was.
Just a factual thing: Most therapists do not leave doors open so anyone can listen in. Part of the trust-me issue is privacy.
You've written some nice moments and description, which you can weave into more active scenes.