First off, thanks to everyone who submitted their first 250 words for SeCrits this week. It's always so difficult to choose one, and the way I personally go about it varies. Most of the time, I read through each entry twice—once to get a gist of the story, and a second time to see if any ideas pop into my mind. It's also tough because while there are a ton I love (including a YA murder mystery), if I feel like they don't need that much work I have to leave them in the Secret Life inbox graveyard. *sniffs*
This Tuesday's entry caught my eye because it's interesting, yet also something that could still use a little tweaking. So here it is, the first 250 words of a NA Contemporary. (Crit is in orange, per usual.)
Kate dropped the overloaded clothes basket on the floor with a thump and scanned her new dorm room. [A sense of scene here would be nice. What does this place look like? You don't have to go into a ton of detail; even just a quick description of the chipped paint and crooked bunk beds would help. Maybe her roommate's stuff is already there—sans roommate. That way we can get the sense that it's move-in day without having to tell us it's move-in day (see below).] She heaved in and out, trying to catch her breath after carrying her last load of belongings up eight flights of stairs. [If you tell us about the room and the roommate's stuff, we don't need the heaving in and out sentence.] It was move-in day and she had grown annoyed with jockeying for a spot in one of two elevators and decided she could make it eight floors. [You can take out the part about specifically telling us it's move-in day if you shift some things around above :)]
She’d been assigned to room 808 of Summit Hall. The dorms consisted of two-bedroom suites with a main living area flanked by two smaller bedrooms. While she’d have her own bedroom and share the living space with a roommate, unfortunately she’d be sharing the bathroom down the hall with twenty other students. [Something about this paragraph is a little dry. These are the kind of details that are important, but they don't have to be told to us. Maybe Kate could shift through her roommate's stuff a little bit and find something weird in there, and then she can panic at the idea that she's going to have to share a microscopic space with a weirdo. OR Kate could poke her head in the bathroom and think something to herself like, "Not impressed." These are just suggestions, but overall, we need more showing, less telling.]
She glanced at the two bedroom doors, contemplating which room she'd take, when she heard shouting down the hall. [Move-in day is pretty loud, yeah? Especially since she had to fight for a spot in one of the two elevators. There's probably lots of shouting. What makes this shouting distinctive?]
"Hey. You dropped something!" It was a male voice. And then its tall, dark haired, blue eyed owner appeared in her doorway. He was holding her favorite gray t-shirt. "You dropped this." He held it out to her while trying to catch his breath. [Is he annoyed? Genuinely happy to help? Is there a weird expression on his face that gives away he isn't telling her about everything she dropped yet? Even just adding something like "with a smile" will help clear that up.]
She quickly grabbed the shirt. "Thanks."
"Yea... you dropped something else," he replied, looking down the hallway. [Once again, I need a hint about what he's thinking. Is he smirking like he thinks it's funny? Or biting his lip because he's embarrassed for her? etc.]
She raised her eyebrows in response, wondering why he hadn't bothered to pick that up too. She leaned out the door to look down the hall, where she saw a pile of fuchsia on the floor in front of the door to the stairwell. And then she gasped as realization hit her. [Let's make this a touch more embarrassing, shall we? Yeah, it's embarrassing Hot Guy saw her bra, but what if it's in the middle of the hall and there are a ton of people stepping around it (being move-in day and all that)? Just a thought.]
It was her bra. [Haha, love! Poor Kate.]
There you have it, folks! What do you guys think? Suggestions/thoughts and welcome in the comments below.