January 2014 Critique Corner

January 2014: Story # 1

Title:               Finally Getting It

Author:           Cecilia T.

My brother wouldn’t let me into his treehouse, ‘cause it was no-girls-allowed. Him and Jimmy and Cheeser and Suzon-not-Susan were all afraid that I’d be better at doing boy things than they are, I bet.

Girls don’t do boy things not because we can’t, but because we aren’t stupid enough to, and that’s a pretty important distinction but the Super-Secret-Special-Spies or whatever they were calling themselves that day didn’t get it.

And all that was, well I wouldn’t say fine but it was in the grayish muck between okay and lame, and that was good enough to live with.

Until a couple days later when I saw them unrolling the rope ladder down to let Rosie Anderson in. The girl across the street who was obsessed with horses and even had a pony of her own called Ladybug, even though it sure wasn’t anywhere near red-with-black-polka-dots, but Rosie was dumb like that.

She was the kind of girl who wore princess dresses to school, the fancy kind with netting and fur trimming and sparkly shoes to match. Even when it wasn’t Halloween, and if I tried to pull that kind of thing I’d get laughed outta second grade but girls like Rosie got away with a lot more than girls like me did.

I stood under the tree even though I didn’t care, course not, I was just curious. I heard them initiating her into the Super-Stupid-Sorry-Excuse-of-a-Club circle, with the handshake they got from that ancient movie and the chant that made no sense, ‘cause they had their own made-up language that sounded a whole lot like Pig Latin.

4 thoughts on “January 2014: Story # 1”

  1. This is a great start. I love the way we meet your narrator right away and get a feel for the way she talks and thinks, and even her views about the world. I liked your description of setting. This was a great piece.

  2. This is really good writing and the voice comes off really strong, like the first poster said. I can totally get a sense of your character and it’s really good because character is really important in the story.

    My only comment would be sometimes she doesn’t sound quite like a second grader. Sometimes she sounds a bit more mature, so maybe aging her up would be a good idea.

    Otherwise, I really liked this and wish you luck! 🙂

  3. I love this opening! The voice is spectacular. In just a few hundred words, I feel like I know the main character personally. She is spunky and sarcastic and feels very Junie B. Jones to me. She acts tough on the outside, but I can tell she feels left out and hurt on the inside. A good example of this is when she says, “I stood under the tree even though I didn’t care, course not, I was just curious.” I had no trouble connecting with her and that’s not easy to do in such a short sample.

    The details you’ve used are great too (ex. unrolling the rope ladder; horse named LadyBug without red and white polka dots; the princess outfits; the mention of the handshake and the chant). As the main character speaks of each detail, you get a sense of her inner thoughts on this very unfortunate situation.

    You’ve done a great job establishing what the problem is. The main character isn’t allowed to hang out with the boys, and if that isn’t bad enough, a girly-girly classmate is. Because I already care about her, I want to know if she finds a way to make the boys WANT to let her hang out with them!

    The only concern I had in this opening was the sophistication of a few phrases. If this story is targeted at young middle grade-you mention the main character is in second grade, I wonder if she would say things like, “…that’s a pretty important distinction.” I’m wondering if instead she would say something like,”…that’s a pretty important difference.” Another example is when she says, “…and that was good enough to live with.” This feels a little too old to be authentic second grade speech. Maybe you could try something like, “and that was good enough I guess.”

    Overall, this is very well done. Keep up the good work. I wish I could read more!

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