Opening Scenes in My PitchWars Manuscript and The Pain It’s Causing Me

So I just participated in YayYA, a critique swapping contest arranged by wonderful Rachel Stevenson. I submitted a 35-words pitch and first 500 words there. The critiquing started on Monday, June 27th. I was excited to have my first 500 words being critiqued. 
Well, it hasn’t been very positive. Actually, not positive at all. And I agree with them.

One of them pointed out how it failed to intrigue them and make them turn the pages to read more. Another told me there were too many character introduction, also of minor characters.

Long before this critique swap, I’d submitted my first 250 words to Janice Hardy. It was almost first draft (I said almost because only those 250 words I polished individually, six times before submitting it). It was like this:

“Day One
The day I first met Summer, I got arrested for initiating into a fight with the Hippies, because I was one of their arch enemies, the Suedeheads, and they were making graffiti of their slogans like ‘Make Love, Not War’ and ‘Flower Power’ in our Bromley territory.
Summer was also a Hippie, but she wasn’t one of them.
That day, it was raining, it was 3:45pm and one by one, all my six friends got bail and left. I sat inside the cell, my left knuckle bandaged for punching a Hippie, watching my friends leave and then the clock tick.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
The thought of the quote wasn’t unexpected. I’d been wondering about it for the past few days myself. Brooding was never my thing, but this one was bugging me a lot. And then I got released. While my friends needed their parents’ arrival to get a bail, I didn’t. Perks of having a Dad who works in the Scotland Yard as one of the Assistant
Commissioners. One telephone call can set your sixteen years old rebellious, Suedehead son free.
To punish me, Dad didn’t send me a ride. I stood by the pavement to get a cab, when a van ran past me and splashed dirty water. Before I could recover from the initial shock, it halted a few feet ahead, and backed up to me. A window rolled down and emanated out the Beatles’ “…and I saw her standing there…”
It was Summer, sitting inside.”

Well, you can see how rough and unpolished it was despite my polishing it SIX times. It was also not the right place to begin. My MMC/narrator was a Suedehead (a reckless, hooligan type subculture from the early ’70s). But now he’s just a normal teenager. My FMC still a Hippie.

Before submitting to Janice, I decided to submit to Critique Circle where I’m a member. That draft was the second draft and it was thus:

“Day One

The day I first met Summer, I got arrested for getting into a fight with the Hippies, because I was one of their arch enemies, the Suedeheads, and they were making graffiti of their slogans like ‘Make Love, Not War’ and ‘Flower Power’ in our Bromley territory.

Summer was also a Hippie, but she wasn’t one of them. That day, it was raining, it was 3:45pm and one by one, all my six friends got bail and left. I sat inside the cell, my left knuckle wrapped in bandage for punching a Hairy (read a Hippie), watching them leave and then the clock tick.

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

The thought of the quote wasn’t unexpected. I’d been wondering about it for the past few days myself. Brooding was never my thing, but this one was bugging me a lot. And then I got bailed. While my friends needed their parents’ arrival to get a bail, I didn’t. Perks of having a Dad who works in the Scotland Yard as one of the Assistant Commissioners. One telephone call can set your sixteen years old rebellious, Suedehead son free.

To punish me, Dad didn’t send me a ride. So I stood by the pavement, trying to get a cab, when a van ran past me, splashing dirty water. Before I could recover from the initial shock, it halted a few feet ahead, and backed up to me. A window rolled down and emanated out the Beatles singing “…and I saw her standing there…”

It was Summer, sitting inside.”

See? Those two were almost the same!

At the beginning of this month, I won a free critique giveaway for query+ first 250 words by one of the PitchWars mentors. To her, I sent this draft:

“Day One:
The day I first met Summer, I stole my dad’s car to escape to Wales with my friends. But he stopped me. How?
Carrick (my friend): “I can’t believe your dad reported his car stolen so fast. We should’ve used the train. How did he find us so quickly?”
I mulled over it. One of the privileges Dad enjoyed as one of the Assistant Commissioners of Scotland Yard. The fuzz leave no stone unturned to find your stolen car. But how did he know about our plan? Either Ted spilled the beans, the naïveté my sweet, innocent little brother was; or Fred, dad’s lackey and my perfectionist elder brother, who somehow found out. Either way, we got arrested. 
Tamsin: “Will your dad come? Or mum?”
Dad was the one who landed us here, so no. Mum was busy doing what she always did, sleeping. Not her fault though, but still. 
Declan: “My dad’s here. Will you be all right by yourself, mate?” 
Me: “I’ll be fine.” 
Hell, I dared to steal my dad’s car and use it to go to Wales, didn’t I? Despite no permission from Damon Crawley, aka Stonyface, aka my dad.
One by one all my six friends were bailed, except me. I waited for my turn.
****************
An hour later, my bail was made via telephone, and intentionally late. When I’d asked for the car, the fuzz in charge refused.
“Your dad’s order.”
“How else will I go home?”
“Ever heard of a taxi?”
So this was Dad’s punishment. I felt like Oliver Barrett IV.”

See how that was? I’ve made a lot of change, but still it wasn’t the right one.

Now the 500 words I’d sent to YayYA:

Day One
Universally, a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes just a word can reel your life.
D-I-V-O-R-C-E
This seven letter word did just that for me. But I had to evict it from my mind and focus on what was happening right now. 
“You’ve got to believe me, officer. Damon Crawley is my father.” 
But the fuzz with moptophaircut and long sideburn wouldn’t believe me. Damn their species! He rolled his eyes. “If that’s the case, then why don’t you give me his home telephone number?”
I was figuratively shoved to an impasse. I didn’t want to inform my Dad about this. “Fine.” I told the fuzz Dad’s number. Done with dialling the telephone, the fuzz handed me the receiver.
“Hello?” It was Ted, my naïve, innocent little brother. Someone was playing Peters and Lee’s “Welcome Home” there.
“Teddy boy? Can you give the phone to Dad?”
Ted put me on hold.
“Ned?” This time it was Fred, my perfectionist elder brother. I needed Dad, not his lackey.
“I’m at the Charing Cross police station.”
“Why?”
“Long story. Give the phone to Dad.”
After what felt like an hour, Dad answered. “Ned?”
“I need you to bail me.”
“What is it this time?”
“I, um, I drove your car with a nulled license and without your permission. And beyond the speed limit.” I wanted to kick myself.
“Why did you?”
To get away from you and Mum. To not witness you two getting a divorce. But I couldn’t bring myself to mention that in front of the fuzz and bring family melodrama in public. That was worse than washing and drying your underpants in public. 
“I can’t tell you.”
“I demand an answer, Ned.”
“I can’t, goddamn it!”
“Then rot it jail!” The call was off.
I peered at the fuzz. He now knew that my Dad truly was Damon Crawley, one of theassistant commissioners of Scotland Yard. And that I was his seventeen years old son, Edwin Crawley.
“He won’t come?” he assumed. Inodded a no. “What about your mother?”
She couldn’t. She was too busy doing what she always did, sleeping. Not her fault though, but still. 
“She doesn’t want to either.”
“Well,” the fuzz sighed, “you know what that means.”
I was put behind bars.
*******************
Three hours later, my bail was made via telephone and intentionally late. One of the perks Dad enjoyed in his line of work. I retrieved my rucksack and my brand new Polaroid SX-70 1972. When I asked for the car, the fuzz refused.
“Your father’s order,” he told me.
“How else will I go home?”
“Ever heard of a taxi?”
Another punishment by Dad. I felt like Oliver Barrett IV. So I left without it.”

Now this one is still under construction. I’m fixing it and reading loads of writing blogs that wrote posts about opening scenes and page (I’d done it before but now more voraciously than ever). The revision period of YayYA is yet to come. I’m revising and revising. I still don’t know if I’ll find the right place to start my novel. Fingers crossed I would before August 3rd.

Until then, take care and good luck to myself and those who need it likewise.

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