This week Laura Diamond was brave enough to let me post her first page. Laura and I met through the online writing community and I've had the priviledge of critting her entire manuscript! (well, honestly, I'm not done yet, but I'm still working on it - promise Laura!) Anyway, Laura and I happen to have written manuscripts with very similar premises, so there was an instant connection. It's been interesting to see how our stories have varied despite the similarities. She's a talented writer and it's been awesome to work with her.
Although she's had other crits on this manuscript, I think her revised first page is a good reflection of her amazing talent mixed with a little bit of my input.
A siren signaled a warning. I drew Sammie to me and stared at the dim outlines of bunk beds and chairs, scanning the darkened room for movement. The other Anemies—outcasts based solely on their low red blood cell count—huddled in pairs on their mattresses, crouched lower, as if curling into living meatballs would prevent the Sharpies from finding them, tearing them out of their beds, and burning them alive.
The siren’s call came to a crescendo. My heart hammered a traitorous beat while I tried to deprive my lungs of oxygen. Breathing lowered my ability to hear the stealthy movements of the Sharpies. I squeezed my eyes shut, praying the horrid sound of the raid call passed us by. It didn’t.
They’re stopping here, Justin.” Sammie huddled closer to my chest, trembling.
“Shhh.” I smoothed my little sister’s golden hair. Maybe this was our time to die. Surviving three years beyond our parents was unheard of anyway, especially with the Sharpies raiding sanctioned safe houses.
Safe houses. What lies they spread. Nowhere was safe. How could you hide when they heard your heart beating, when your scuffling movements sounded like thunderstorms, and your decay oozed out in waves. No matter how much you tried to cover your scent, they could still smell fear. The building was rife with it. . No wonder they hated us. Our stench. Our weakness. Our frail humanity.
Screams echoed from the first floor as our strong hold – a converted school building – was breached.
“To the roof, like I showed you,” I hissed in her ear.
A boy, no more than seven, grabbed my arm. “You’re not going out there are you?” I could feel the tremble in his hand and I suddenly felt sorry for him. He was in the worst place possible right behind the door. It was obvious he had no family to help him. Not that it mattered. His life was about to end anyway.
“Come with us.” Sammie extended her thin, pale hand.
“No. We go alone.” Sure, I felt bad for the kid, but he’d slow us down and then we’d all end up dead. No way I’d sacrifice my sister for some stranger, even if he was a child. Besides, it was hard enough keeping two mouths fed, let alone a third.
A siren broke the night’s tense silence. I jerked my head from the nearly flat, musty pillow and listened. The sound grew louder. Son of a bitch.
“They’re stopping here, Justin.” Sammie huddled closer to me, trembling.
“Shhh.” I smoothed my little sister’s greasy hair. Showers came far and few between. So did luck. Hell, maybe this was our time to die. Really, how many more times could we escape a raid?
Our room had no door and the only light came from a low voltage bulb halfway down the hallway. I stared at the dim outlines of bunk beds, searching the murky space for movement. The other Anemies—huddled in pairs to maximize space—crouched lower, as if curling into living meatballs would prevent the Sharpies from finding them, tearing them out of their beds, and burning them alive.
“I’m scared.” Sammie’s shrill voice cut through the others’ whimpers. How could they call our refuge—an abandoned two story building that was once a high school—a safe house? Safety didn’t exist. Neither did hiding. How could you hide when they heard your heart beating, when your scuffling movements sounded like thunderstorms, and your decay oozed out in waves?
“You have to be quiet. It’s important to wait for the right time.” I grimaced at the salty, dank odor of sweat emanating from my pores. No wonder they hated us. Our stench. Our weakness. Our frail humanity.
The siren’s call came to a crescendo. My heart hammered even faster in response. Please let it pass us by.
The shrieking of old hinges and splintering of wood followed the bellowing sirens. Screams erupted from the Anemies downstairs. A whoosh of compressed gas mingled with the yelps. The smell of gasoline burned my nose. “They brought flamethrowers,” I murmured.
Sammie buried her face into my chest. Her body shook with sobs.
“It’s okay, we know what to do, right? We’ve practiced this a million times,” I soothed her, but found little relief in my words.
WOW! Right? What a great example of taking a crit, applying what works and TRUSTING YOUR INSTINCT! *Claps* Nice job Laura!
Laura entered her revised pages into an agent contest and she WON! Yep - Laura is getting a 25 page critique by the fabulous Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. I'm not jealous. At. All.
CONGRATS Laura! You deserve it!
And thanks for letting me share your story today!
All the best to you, my friend!
Now it's your turn! Post your query letter or a tag line for your manuscript in the comments and I'll select one to critique. Then your original and revision will be posted here in the coming weeks.