Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana Flegal

Today we have the first page of another Middle Reader title. Let us know by your comments if you would read on.


Porter Booth’s heart answered with a thump of its own and then stopped. He was sure of it. No way could it beat stuck up in his throat.

“What was that?” his cousin whispered.

“Shh!” Porter switched off his flashlight and squatted in the dark.

“What are you doing?”

“Shut up! Get down over here next to me.” Porter reached for James and got a wad of sweaty t-shirt. He held his breath and tried to figure out what was scuffling. “Hear that?” he whispered. “Someone’s coming.”

Sounds must be louder underground when you can’t see, he reasoned. He knew it was people noise, but who and how many? Friendly or dangerous? Kids like himself and James, or a gang down here to take care of business. Whatever business that was.

Dad was right. He shouldn’t have come back to the slough.

His dad hadn’t forbidden the entire length of the Hendricksville slough that carried storm runoff to the Tule River. Just the tunnel part under Main Street. Just this exact spot where he and James were squatting, listening to someone shuffle through a mine-like shaft a few feet away.

He blinked and tried to focus, but it didn’t make any difference in the dark. The artery to the outside was all the way across a cavernous clearing littered with old furniture and wooden barrels. They couldn’t make it through all that junk and out in time.

Porter pulled James toward what he hoped was an old bar front they’d seen against the wall. “Come on, we can hide behind the bar.”

James whistled as he sucked in a mouthful of dusty air. “I can’t breathe.”

“Be quiet!” James’s damp t-shirt stuck to Porter’s fingers. And he could smell it. Is that what would give them away—the sweat? Or would it be the squeaky breathing?

Last weeks submission was offered for comments by the brave writer Lauren Claire. You can find her on Face Book and at her blog titled, Cascading Thoughts. Stop by and offer this young writer an encouraging word.


Timothy Fish said...

My first impression is no. I had a difficult time reading this. It seems to jump around too much and that made it hard for me to get a sense of where we are. The bad thing is, I don't care enough to figure it out.

Davalyn Spencer said...

Format makes it hard to read. Something must have happened.

Diana said...

Davalyn, thanks for the heads up- I think I fixed it- is it easier to read now?

Anonymous said...

It's suspenseful. It needs a little work, but I would definitely read on.

Caroline said...

For a "Young" writer, I think it was well done. Youth today have so many more options to learn how to write. I'd read on.

Davalyn Spencer said...

Diana - Much better. Font in places is still off, but it's easier to read.

Anonymous said...

It definitely had me curious. But I found myself rereading some lines. The thoughts weren't clear to me at first. As a child I remember hiding from footsteps because I was somewhere I wasn't suppose to be. Nice first page.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

I like the story. I would keep reading. I already want to know how they escape.

Timothy Fish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy Fish said...

I think the reformat may have helped it, but I still think it needs help. I’m all for in media res but I get the feeling that this is more of a gimmick. I see no reason to think it will ruin the book, but I think it would be better if we knew more about what they’re trying to accomplish. So far, all I see is two kids who are disobeying their parents and are afraid of the things that go “thump” in the night. We need a reason to want those kids to be there.

Lauren Claire said...

The first paragraphs did not grab my attention. And even though this is a middle reader, I wonder if it might be talking down a little too much to the age level. Yes, the target age group exaggerates, but it has not been my experience that they think in such fantastical thoughts as a non-beating heart jumping into their throats. However, I am also well past that age group so you might want to find some kids from that age range and see if you can get them to describe what it feels like to be afraid.

However, once it gets past that part to the point where we have a bit of a setting and an idea of what is happening, you do manage to capture the reader's attention, so, yes, I would probably read on.

As a final little note, watch the repetitiveness of words/phrases. Repetitiveness can make even an exciting part of a story dull and tedious if you aren't careful.

Katherine Hyde said...

This raises enough questions, with an authentic enough voice, to keep a middle-grade boy reading. Or even me. :) I am curious why they're there--surely it isn't only because Dad said no?--but I can wait a page or two to find out.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Definitely YES. It hooks me right away, with enough tension and sensory detail to keep me reading. I like it, and I think young people would like it, too. The issues could be easily resolved--the story itself is a winner.

Kristen Joy Wilks said...

I like the idea and the action...but it needs to be smoothed out. I don't feel connected to the character and so even though I am curious about what will happen, I'm not sure if I'm willing to keep going since I don't feel much of a connection to these kids. Look at the first few pages of Artemis Fowl, Greggor the Overlander, and Percy Jackson. Smoothe and clean they draw you in without you even noticing.
Not sure if I can do it either, but the goal is to make reading almost happen on its own. Fast and flawless.

Kristen Joy Wilks said...

You know what, set the scene with some description of this cool tunnel and I think I'd be with you. It would help me to see the kids better too.

Sharon Kirk Clifton said...

Yes, I would read on, at least for a few more pages. I’m a fan of in medias res, but the thump seemed a bit gimmicky. Through his vivid imagery and deep POV, the writer plopped me down in a very unpleasant place. Since I too have asthma, I empathized with James.

I had a little problem with the presence of so much dust because I think of a slough as a damp place. It would seem that the smell of mildew would hang heavy in the air rather than dust.

Also, since bar has multiple meanings, I would like that clarified. Nonetheless, enough questions abound to keep me reading.

Having worked with middle-graders much of my life, I know this would hook them, especially the boys (and we need more books for boys in that age group). It reminded me somewhat of Jerry Spinelli’s writing.

Because of Christ,
Sharon Kirk Clifton

Jennie Dugan said...

I so much would turn the page that I'm a little surprised at so many commenting who wouldn't. I'm definitely curious. I didn't find it gimmicky.