Choosing the Right Tense
Hook Critique Series: Article 4, Part 2
Today we’re following up with the second part of our article on choosing a tense for your story. Taffy Lovell generously allowed us to post a critique of an early first page draft from her novel It’s Not Me. (You can see that here.) Below is her revised first page. You can engage her in the comments section about her revision process.
I hide the scissors and the red shoebox on the top shelf in my closet. The obituaries can wait. I glance out my dirty bedroom window and wonder at the promises the sky holds for me today. If my days were normal, I might hang out at the pool, pretending not to watch the lifeguards. If my life were normal, I might sit under the shade of the trees and daydream. If I were normal, I might gossip with friends late into the night about everything and nothing. But I left normal behind ages ago—in quiet cemeteries.
Not remembering the deaths of so many friends puts me on red alert to too many people. By the end of the year, I’ll prove my memories don’t hold the key to so many deaths. If my memories were opened, we might find a serial killer. And it’s not me.
My hair is a ratty mess. I flip my head over and force my tangled mane into a ponytail. I peek in the mirror. It’ll work. Easy. That’s how I roll.
The t-shirt I wore to bed reeks like last night’s Chinese takeout. Not how I roll.
No reason to get too excited about high school, but at least I can smell decent. I’ve resigned myself to the shadows of the corners and back rows. I don’t need attention, nor do I want it. I’m a ghost, just like my dead friends.
A black piece of fabric peeks out from beneath my pillow. Pulling my favorite vintage AC/DC t-shirt close, I inhale and pretend it smells like Aiden, the last boy I crushed on. I haven’t lost memories of him.
I trade the shirt with another, cleaner one off the floor and shake it out for good measure. A worn-out and yellowed clipping flutters across the floor. I pick it up and study it. John Birch’s trench coat is thrown over my older sister and me. He’s trying to shield us from the snooping cameras. The caption reads “Lost Memories or Fake Amnesia?”
I tuck the old news story into the red shoebox, too.
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Enjoy a dialogue with Taffy below and discuss the process for revising her first page.
To find anything else our spotlight author has written, loved, or shared, see below:
Time to hear from you. How does Taffy’s new hook grab you? What do you most focus on as the best element of her hook? Comment below!