Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Some birthday this turned out to be. Lana grabbed the dishcloth and walked across the kitchen floor, her flip-flops sticking on the tiles where someone had spilt cola. Lana sighed. Her party had been a disaster. The kids threw food around, knocked the chairs over and drank her father’s beer. It wasn’t her fault, so why was she being punished? Mum had sent everyone home early and it wasn’t even dark yet.

It just wasn’t fair. Lana had so looked forward to turning twelve, but now she’d just be a laughing stock. Mum had even cancelled Lana’s appointment to have her hair cut. That was mean. Lana wiped her sweaty brow and looked at the clock. Her parent’s had gone to the cinema and wouldn’t be back for hours.

Lana turned on the fan and threw the cloth back in the sink. Some fun she was having on her special day. No way was she cleaning up tonight. It was way to hot. She’d teach her mother a lesson instead. Lana marched to the bathroom, grabbed the scissors and chopped off her long ponytail. Giggling, she grabbed her mother hair dye and dyed her blonde hair black. While waiting for the colour to change, she noticed stains on her white shorts and tank top. After pulling them off, she washed them. Oh, what had she done? Now she’d be in more trouble. She’d better cleanup after all.

A loud bang came from the direction of the lounge room. Lana froze.


  1. There seems to be a theme with 12 yr olds dying their hair! Come to think of it, that's probably around when I started as well.

    There definitely could have been more showing here. The only required piece you showed, rather than told about, is that fact that is was summer by saying how hot she was. Maybe you could have shown us she was wearing white by saying something like "the dark stains looked like black holes on her egg shell colored shorts", using something to signify white without actually using the word white.

  2. Maybe I don't understand what we're doing here, but I thought you showed me things. I know you showed me she is thoroughly disgusted and frustrated about the way her party went.

    I would change the last line, however. That was too much like telling. Maybe something like, "A loud bang from the lounge room changed her mind."

    Good job. And I love your title!

  3. I love the description of the flip flops sticking to the tile floor where the cola was spilled. A couple of suggestions.

    This line is too much telling and not enough showing. I think you can bring it life.

    "Lana turned on the fan and threw the cloth back in the sink."

    Think about what happens when she turns on the fan so it becomes more showing. Something like:

    A quick flick of the switch brought the fan to life with a low hum as the silver blades spun into a gray blur. Lana's aim was good when she tossed the dishcloth and it landed in the sink with a wet splash.

    Just suggestions to add other senses like sound and touch.

    Another thing you might consider is using internal dialog to add more life. For example, when you write "It just wasn't fair," as the narrator, it's a bit removed from Lana. You could present that as internal dialog, as if Lana was talking to herself. This is so unfair, Lana thought. Or, actually have her say it aloud to herself.

    On a good note, I absolutely LOVE the title.

    Hope that's helpful.

  4. Hi! I loved the title as well. It really caught my attention. Having a birthday party go all wrong was creative too.

    You have lots of interesting things going on, like Lana being punished, the spilt cola, and Lana cutting and coloring her hair. I think Michael hit the nail on the head when he mentioned adding some conversation or thoughts of Lana.

    Take what you have and bring it to life! Lana is an interesting character.

  5. Thanks everyone for pointing out the telling parts. I’ll have to work on that.

    I have a question though. Some comments were related to me not showing Lara’s thoughts. This has confused me because I thought I did add thoughts in these examples.>>> ‘Some birthday this turned out to be.’ And>>> ‘Her party had been a disaster.’ Plus >>>”It wasn’t her fault, so why was she being punished?’ And>> ‘ It just wasn’t fair’ plus>.> Now, she’d be in more trouble.’

    I’m confused because I was under the impression that you can’t put thoughts in italics in middle grade and chapter books. You can say: she thought. Or she could speak out loud, but I thought for Deep POV it was okay to write thoughts this way. Just like they do in some children’s books that I’ve read. I’m not complaining. It’s just that I want to learn the correct way to write thoughts in MG and Chapter books and would appreciate some advice. This is the style I’m using at the moment. Is it wrong?

    I have struggled with this for a while now and thought I had finally got it right. Maybe not though.

  6. You have an interesting story complete with the whiny voice of a twelve year old, but I believe you missed some of the points and included telling. It's so tough.

    It's a late summer evening-you didn't capture this with the heat line. It could be hot in the house because all those kids were running around. Also, the party ended before dark...but it's now late? You also told about Mom and Dad being out.

    Lana grabbed the dishcloth and walked across the kitchen floor, her flip-flops sticking on the tiles where someone had spilt cola. (awkward)

    The ending felt forced--as if you hadn't included that detail so you threw it in.

    I've never heard anything about italics being a no-no. I see it all the time.

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  8. Joyce, thanks for the comments. However, you said I hadn’t shown that it was a summer evening. I mentioned that she wiped her sweaty brow. Is that not showing? You don’t sweat unless you’re hot.

    You also said I told about the mum and dad being out. Well that was Lana’s thoughts. It’s quite acceptable to write thoughts without using italics in middle grade novels. You don’t necessarily need thought tags either.

    If that sentence was on its own, I would agree that it was telling, but it was part of her thought process, joined to the other sentences.

    Many popular children’s writers write this way. I’ve done some research about italics in MG novels. Italics may be fine, but you can also write thoughts without them. That does not make the writing telling.


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