Friday, June 17, 2016

I'm Just a Kid and Life is a Nightmare

I apologize for not posting this earlier today. At about midnight last night, I realized I hadn’t written it yet, and still had no idea what it was about. Now, I kind of know. I'm going to share some things with you. I've been going on and on about how I'm going to revise The Midnight Carnival. Well, I thought I'd share some of the original draft with you, to see what you think.

This excerpt is the very beginning. Rereading it now, I can see where I was just going for word count. But here, judge for yourself.

Something broke downstairs. A lamp, I think. Too heavy to be a dish, and too fragile to be a chair. I turned up the volume on my music to drown out the screeching sound of my mother’s voice. I didn’t know what they were fighting about this time. I didn’t want to know. At seventeen, I was supposed to be worrying about passing classes and which boys were interested in me, not about trying to hold my parents’ crumbling marriage together.

Usually I’d lock myself in my room with the excuse that I had homework to do. On the weekends, I’d go hang with my friends for as long as possible, just to avoid coming home. But right now was a Tuesday in July, and neither was an option. Most of my friends were off on family vacations, anywhere but here.

Auburn was not a large city, and there wasn’t a lot to do for a lone teenager. Pretty much everything is boring when you’re alone. If I’d had a car, I probably could have gone into Roseville or Sacramento, but again, alone, what was the point?

Something else crashed in the living room. It was getting hard to drown out the yelling. Turning the music off, I pulled on my sneakers and grabbed my jacket. Sure, it was July, but it was also eleven fifteen at night. And who knew how long I’d be gone.

The window creaked as pushed it up. Not that they would hear. I used to worry about getting caught sneaking out, but now I’d come to realize I could land a helicopter on the roof and they wouldn’t notice. The roof outside my window extended over the front porch, and at the side was a lattice with some kind of half dead climbing vine on it. One of these days I was going to be too heavy for the flimsy wood to support me, but not today.

I crept across the front yard and made a left on High Street. No plan, no destination in mind. I just needed to get out of that house. And maybe they’d notice it got really quiet and figure out I’d left, but what were they going to do? Punishment would require them to give a damn about anything other than their endless squabbles.

When I’d come downstairs with new burgundy streaks in my hair, they said nothing. I doubt they even noticed. Just after my birthday the past October, I let my friend Lexi pierce my nose with a needle and not enough ice. When I got home from that sleepover, I expected a reprimanding “Addie!” or even an “Adelaide Louise!” if they were really mad. But I got nothing. Just a “Did you have fun?”

The issue here is that it's a YA novel. That's "young adult," if you're not in the know. But I'm concerned that I'm too far removed from the teen experience to convincingly write a relatable teenage character. I remember how I was at that age, but I don’t think my experience is relevant to teens of today. This opening scene really sets the stage and introduces the character. If I can't get her right in this scene, the rest of the story will be all blah.

So what would be super helpful is if anyone in my target age range could tell me what they think of this character as she is introduced. What kind of things would make her more relatable? What would you want to know about her? Where would you like to see her story go? She's going to end up in a mysterious circus, but the rest is up in the air.

Of course, I'd love anyone's opinion, but especially the teen crowd.

See you all Tuesday.


  1. She should be into other girls...but she doesn't know it yet. This makes for an excellent plot twist. Possibly super girly and kinda preppy, people always tend to write in the mind of a lonely, outcasted, hated teen. When she finds out she's a lesbian, she has to decide how to keep it a secret or how to tell her "friends".

  2. Apparently I am forced to write to at least twice to get to you as I seem to have a computer glitch every time
    I write to you .
    As wrote before every story of teen shows and books seem to have a premise like this parents who are fighting and are not getting along. A teen who does't get any attention because parents are to self involved so the teens do things like pierce themselves die their to get noticed even if it is negative attention at least they are getting attention. These stories usually end with the parents realizing that they have neglected their kid the family makes up and they live happily every after in some loving moment. The parents tell them they hate the changes but the kid gets away with the things they did to themselves because of the guilt of the parents.
    Blah Blah Blah.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You have a chance to change this. You could turn the child into a hero instead of being an emo kid who is sad starving for parents attention they kidnap the parents and force them to ignored listening to angry fighting and concern for their child and turn the tables on them. Or this kid is becomes a millionaire by getting them life insurance and faking their death. Then having a homeless man pretend to be her lost uncle so she could pull this off giving the parents a tast of what they have done to her neglect them other than life needs until they learn what it is like to live in a house totally ignored feeling the same way she was hurt or just becomes a murderess and lives how she wants taking care of peoples families who don't love and care for their children the avenger for kids of abusive parents. I don't know but I have the seen and read the first scenario a thousand times it is a popular model for book sales but has been done to death I will be excited for a change even lesbian twist change would at least be different. good luck