Calling All Critiques – Entry # 11

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Entry # 11

Author: Tory Gates
Title: A Moment in the Sun
Genre: YA

Chapter 1—Then & Now

The white and pink bus traveled along streets already congested by morning commuters. Dawn had broken, and the overnight trip was nearly finished for the handful of riders. Soon they would arrive at Shinjuku Station to be greeted by family and friends, but for one.

Though she appeared asleep, the girl curled up in a window seat, head against the window was awake. Her body, exhausted from a long ride and numerous fears was tensed. She wanted the bus to stop so she could get off, and get away.

Arms encircled the backpack, bulky with the thick sketchpad that protruded from the main compartment. The girl wore jeans, sneakers, a black sweatshirt with no markings and a denim jacket longer than the fashion. A military-style cap pulled low over her face, long, thick hair spilled from it, tied back by a rubber band.

This part of her stood out: the mane was shoulder length but wavy, not the norm for Japanese women. At first glance, one would think she’d given serious use of a curling iron, but the girl’s hair was naturally so.

She didn’t want anyone looking at her. In the ten hours aboard, the girl studiously avoided contact, although the elderly couple seated next to her as far as Kawasaki Station was friendly enough. Less talk equaled less visibility.

The girl peered out the window. Buildings loomed above: shadows of vehicles, bikes and pedestrians registered, but she did not look at them. She was here before, but long ago. Her hope was to remain, and leave what she fled behind.

The uniformed relief driver moved forward. He spoke to each knot of passengers politely to say they would be at the station soon. An announcement declared the same; with admonitions to each fare to ensure they had their luggage in order. The girl faced forward and waited.

Shinjuku was one of the world’s busiest rail and transit stations. Minutes passed as the bus wound its way to its stopping point near the taxi stand. The girl took a deep breath; she did not want to look too excited.

Finally, the bus pulled up to the curb. Brakes were set, doors opened and the girl took her place in line with the rest. There were only a dozen left; trundling their carry-on bags, each passed the driver with a nod or words of thanks. The relief man stood outside to help those off and to open the side doors for those with suitcases.

A brief thank you to each, and the girl stepped away. She avoided the few on hand to greet her fellows. There was no need to search; no one knew she was here hopefully.

She did not go into the station. Skirting the entrances, the solitary girl turned a corner and walked into the sun.

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3 thoughts on “Calling All Critiques – Entry # 11

  1. This is a strong beginning with just enough details to keep the reader interested and not enough to give anything away. I agree that some sentences need to be rephrased and punctuation changed/added for clarity, but a good proofreading should accomplish that. I agree with Quanie that there are some missed opportunities to get a clearer picture of this girl, but in my opinion she doesn’t necessarily have to interact with anyone. What I feel you could do instead is show us *how* she avoided talking to the friendly older people next to her, for example. Yes, she’s closed off in her body language, but did they try to talk to her and she pulled her cap down? We know she avoids eye contact in general, but how far does she go to do this? Does she block her eyes with the cap or does she simply look down or at a fixed point in space or at her backpack? Little things like this will help the reader get off to a better start of understanding the character and picturing her.

    The mystery around her is thick, and we’re all wondering how the story will develop and who exactly she is! You nailed the ambiguity and the need to know more that draws readers further into the book right away. Well done!

  2. Like Quanie, I am also interested in this mysterious girl’s past. What is she running from and why? I like the details you wrote for this character. You gave enough to give me a mental image of her while still making me wonder. Details are definitely something I struggle with I my own writing, so Kudos for that.

    Although I did enjoy this excerpt, there were a few things I had difficulty with. First of all, the paragraphs seemed a bit choppy to me. I realize that it is just the way some authors write, but it always feels a bit disconnected for me. The line, “Shinjuku was me of the busiest rail and transit stations” seems a bit out of place and awkward. Perhaps it would be more effective if included in an earlier area.

    Soon they would all arrive at Shinjuku Station, one of the world’s busiest rail and transit depots, to be greeted by family and friends…all of them but one.

    Just a suggestion to tighten things up a bit. Overall, a good start though. I look forward to seeing more in the future.

  3. At this point, I am definitely interested in why the girl is traveling alone and what she’s running from. There were also some details (like her hair not being the norm for Japanese women and the military hat) that made me even more curious about her background.

    There were some moments where I had to stop and read again for clarity. For example, “Arms encircled the backpack.” I assumed you meant the nameless protagonist is hugging her backpack, but I had to read it again just to be sure. I also had to read this again: “Soon they would arrive at Shinjuku Station to be greeted by family and friends, but for one.” The thing that confused me initially is the “but for one.”

    Also, I would love to learn more about this character through how she interacts with people and I think we had a missed opportunity here: “She didn’t want anyone looking at her. In the ten hours aboard, the girl studiously avoided contact, although the elderly couple seated next to her as far as Kawasaki Station was friendly enough.” After reading this paragraph, I thought that, since the couple is described as being friendly, she might have interacted with them. If that’s the case, it might be nice for us to see that on the page.

    Overall, I enjoyed reading this and felt like you did a great job of creating intrigue. Good luck to you!
    Quanie recently posted..Calling All Critiques – Entry # 11My Profile

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