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Of all the people who wanted to join the trip, Paola was the the last I expected would come. It surprised me. We barely knew each other at school, and I was pretty sure she wasn't interested in me. I didn't pride myself on being a ladies' man. But if all my rejections had taught me anything, it was this: if a girl never looks at you, it probably means "not a chance."

I turned to check on her. She was ambling among the rocks, her back to me, almost a dot in the distance. Despite that, I could still make out her figure: her sharp shoulder blades, her bony arms, her childlike yet feminine hips. Frail but charming features. What I liked the most, though, was her long blonde hair. It contrasted beautifully with her bronze skin. Like Spring and Fall, fire and wood. Light and darkness.

With a sigh, I resumed my way down the beach...

Another concern I have is that it takes a while after the setting is explicitly stated (the beach). Maybe trip and rocks are enough for the meanwhile?

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4 Answers 4

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Overall, the opening seems fine. I've seen worse. I don't see a problem with the setting being mentioned a couple of paragraphs below. The only thing I can't figure out is the genre. Every genre is suited different types of opening. If it's a short story (I see on your profile that's what you like to write), then it's a pretty good opening. For an YA novel, I would consider rewriting it, maybe starting directly with something happening on that beach and then incorporate various details.

I have a problem with this line:

But if all my rejections had taught me anything, it was this: if a girl never looks at you, it probably means "not a chance."

This makes me think: "Okay, so this is a story of boy pining after girl and that's it." I'm not sure if I would read that. The story on itself might be good, but if you're showing me the conclusion right in the beginning, why bother reading? Then again, if the story takes a totally different turn (boy ends with girl), it's different. But something interesting must happen soon.

On the next paragraph, you say that the girl is "almost a dot in the distance". You can't distinguish features if people are so far away. You can say that he remembers her features, or that he sees her almost like she was near him.

Last paragraph, I'm not sure why the guy is sighing. Does he think the girl is too beautiful for him? Is he tired? Is he cranky for some reason? We are in his head, so we should have a better view on his emotions.

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Thanks for the feedback. I'm not sure what genre I write. The only thing I know is that I live in constant horror that someone will classify my work as YA (OK, it isn't that bad. The Fault in Our Stars was pretty good). –  Alexandro Chen Aug 12 at 12:45
1  
Then why are you writing about teenagers? –  lea Aug 13 at 7:21
    
@AlexandroChen Usually when your main character is a teenager, inevitably you end up with YA. That doesn't mean you can't mix it with other genres, like mystery, fantasy, paranormal, history, steampunk, etc. YA has some bad fame, but there are lots of great books that are YA. –  Cristina Georgescu Aug 13 at 9:09

It's a little slow to develop. I prefer a short simple paragraph with some phrase that's either intriguing or "sticky" that I can't get out my head, like the hook to a pop song.

Here's an edit that lacks the hook but gets to the point quicker:

Of all the people on the trip, Paola was the the last I expected. We barely knew each other at school, and I was pretty sure she wasn't interested in me. I turned to check on her. She was ambling among the rocks, her back to me. Her long blonde hair contrasted with her bronze skin. Like Spring and Fall, fire and wood. Light and darkness. With a sigh, I resumed my way down the beach...

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The voice in your first paragraph reminds me of Holden Caulfield. More a monologue than a narrative; a thought process noted in great detail, slowing the pace. To me this is promising. It could be YA or something else - The Catcher in the Rye is only YA on the surface.

In the next paragraph the plain-speaking teenager seems a different person, I don't believe him waxing poetic: "Like Spring and Fall, fire and wood. Light and darkness." If he's a poet that's fine - but set him up as a poet.

I agree with Cristina: if the girl is "almost a dot in the distance", I don't believe him, saying he can make out her figure. This matters because I do a double-take: did I miss something?

I don't like the sigh - it's vague and melodramatic, feels like something added for effect. I want every sentence to be essential.

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The first few sentences left me puzzled:

Of all the people who wanted to join the trip, Paola was the the last I expected would come. It surprised me. We barely knew each other at school, and I was pretty sure she wasn't interested in me.

So the only reason why someone would join a trip with several people joining is that the person in question was interested in the narrator? While that certainly is a valid reason to go to a trip with him, it certainly is not the first reason which would come to my mind, especially if it is a trip with several people joining.

So is there a specific reason (told later in the story) that the narrator would make that assumption? If not, at least to me as a reader it would be unsatisfying.

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