***~***~***~***~Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!***~***~***~***

Jennifer M Eaton’s doing a blog hop critique–250 words (plus the end of the last sentence)–you post, critique others from the list, and critique back anyone who gives you a critique.


This is from Changeable, which will be a YA urban fantasy with two narrators. I’m experimenting farther from my comfort zone on this one, so I may fail, but I’m enjoying the effort.

Link to Part 1, if you need it.

Summary: Evelyn and Mabel are at the beach. While Ev watches two dolphins, Mabel yells that they need to go. Both spot someone headed from the water to shore, and wait instead. The tide washes some seaweed on Evelyn’s bare foot.

*    *     *     *

I took a step back from the slimy plant, but it entangled my toes. I hopped backwards, shaking my contaminated foot to free myself. When that failed, I leaned down and flicked the seaweed back into the water.

“It won’t hurt you,” a male voice said.

I straightened. While I’d been escaping the floating plant life, the swimmer had reached shore, and now stood a few feet away. He wasn’t, in fact, anyone I knew, so I took the opportunity to study him.

White blond hair plastered against his head and dripped into hazel eyes. The swimmer’s golden tan was pretty standard for Santa Monica. His choice of attire, dark green swim shorts, displayed a swimmer’s build, lean and muscled. Nice, but judging from that grim expression, not friendly.

“Ev!” Mabel’s a tolerant soul, which is probably the reason she hasn’t murdered me yet. But she was reaching her boiling point.

The smirking Adonis still waited for me to respond, and I thought about defending myself. I wasn’t one of those girly girls who perfected her tan, never got in the water, and ran shrieking from dead fish and aggressive seagulls. Instead, I turned on my heel and I raced back to Mabel.

“Yeah, run! That’s what they all do!” He yelled, condescension dripping from his voice.

Mother says a lady rises above pettiness, and really, I try to let jerky comments go. But I can’t help but be angry. Sometimes, I don’t want to swallow it down to burn in the pit of my stomach.

*    *     *     *

About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

9 responses »

  1. M. Ziegler says:

    Great description and action. Great job on the visual. I read your last post on this piece and was curious if this is the middle off a chapter? I’m defiantly curious over this boy that she doesn’t know. But if this is their first interaction I am curious as to why his second comment “fine run, they all do.” Maybe a quick sentence or two that either describes some kind look on his face – a smirk , or some kind of look that makes him seems snarky, badboy, or expectant to her leaving. Something to tie the comment in with the first impression personality. I liked his comment about the seaweed and guess the follow up just seemed a little abrupt for the first meeting? Defiantly take that with a grain of salt if I am just confused since you know where the story is going  Otherwise I love the girls personality coming through. She’s got some spunk!

    • caitlinstern says:

      I mention he’s smirking in the paragraph right before the comment, if that helps.
      It’s the beginning- in medias res.
      I’m trying to capture two people’s preconceptions that are so slanted that a shared event seems very different to each of them. He’ll be narrating shortly, and it’ll make sense then, if I did this right.
      Thanks for the comments!

  2. In the paragraph starting white blond – get rid of a few ‘his’… Curious as to why someone so spirited would not yell back some smart comment though.
    Descriptions are good.

    • caitlinstern says:

      I’ll take a look at my excessive pronoun use and cut some, thanks!
      She’s trying to be ‘good.’ But the explosion begins in the next sentence. 😀
      Thanks for the comments!

  3. -I like that your first sentence here is so active with the tangling seaweed, but ‘entangled’ gives more life to the seaweed that I might have expected. Since it is just a plant, might it ‘have become tangled’ in her toes instead?
    -‘He wasn’t, in fact, anyone I knew…’ this sentence may feel stronger if you cut out that ‘in fact.’
    -Golden tan is a bit of a cliché, but I’m stumped as to a suitable alternative. I’d need a little more time to come up with an alternative.
    -‘Mabel’s a tolerant soul’ slips briefly into the present tense before sliding right back into the past ‘but she was reaching her boiling point.’
    -I luuuurve ‘the smirking Adonis’ ^_^ gives me a very clear image of the sort of chap I’m looking at, even without the physical description earlier. In fact, you have a choice here of leaving out that description to give the reader the chance to fill in their own details of what Adonis may look like, or simply use that to enforce his previous description. Either way, like it.
    -‘Yeah run! That’s what they all do!’ I wish I knew what this chap was referring to. If this is in previous snippets or to come up, then fair play, but that captured my attention and held onto it. Is that something the reader should know by this point?

    • caitlinstern says:

      I had a be-verb there originally, and I took it out. I’m giving Ev a little piece of me–the certainty that inanimate objects can be malignant, like a door that always closes on your fingers.
      I took out that ‘in fact’ and put it back a few times, trying to balance the character’s voice and mine. I like to trim things to the bone, but Ev’s a bit lyrical and long-winded.
      I’ll just say tanned, perhaps. Or lightly tanned? Hmm…
      Good catch on the tense switch, thanks.
      Your final point hits on the experimental nature of this story–I haven’t yet explained why he’s so angry, but he’ll have a turn narrating in the next snippet.
      Thanks for your detailed critique, it’s very helpful!

  4. […] to Part 1, and Part 2 if you need […]

  5. […] to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you need […]

  6. […] to Part 1, Part 2,Part 3, and Part 4 if you need […]

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