Monday, December 7, 2009

Up for Critique: Chapter Two

I'd like to thank Daughter of the King for her submission and for providing others with an opportunity to learn more about the craft.

To those offering a critique, some of you might find it helpful to review the writing tips below and the overview of The Beach. Please be sure to include positive comments as well as constructive.

Remember, taking the time to give feedback is an opportunity to sharpen your own skills.

Thank you!


Children's chapter book - this is the first of what I am ambitiously calling a series. I'm new at this and praying hard to get it right. Any suggestions, please be honest. Thanks.


So, first day of second grade everything started out great, and then we went outside for recess. My school is not close to any large cities. It’s clean and quiet, which is great, but kinda boring sometimes.

“I’m free,” I yelled. I ran around the playground, pretending I was driving a train around and around.

“Choo Chooooo”. I was going around the playground equipment, under the slide, between the swings, and scuffing through the tan bark.

I loved trains; I had a big collection at home, with engines, and cars and a caboose. It felt so good just to run and move and laugh without someone telling me to be still or be quiet.

“If you don’t behave you’ll get three checks and I’m emailing your mother,” the teacher would tell me every day.

But outside there were so many things to do and look at. I could run, move, and talk loud. I was free.

“Humph”. What was that? Oh, it was Jordan’s foot. I had accidentally tripped over it. I guess I wasn’t looking where I was going.
When I looked into those little beady eyes of Jordan’s, I saw that he didn’t accidentally stick his foot out, he did it on purpose. My grandpa said if someone hits you; hit ‘em back.

“I saw you Jordan, take that,” I said as I got up and then pushed him to the ground.

Before he could get up Ms Spencer was there.

“Harry,” she said, “when we go inside, give yourself a check.” She seemed mad.

“Yes Ms Spencer,” hanging my head, I saw it had begun already.

“But he started it,” I said under my breath. I didn’t expect to be heard.

The next check that day was during circle time. Sue Palmer, who was sitting next to me on the floor kicked me when she crossed her legs, we were doing, ‘criss cross, apple sauce’. She didn’t mean to, so I didn’t say anything.

Then Jordan, who was sitting on the other side of me, put his big, old, shoes on my new, clean pants.

I told him, “Move your big, old, dirty, shoes, Jordan,”

He just laughed and turned his head, but kept his shoes on me.

So what was I suppose to do? I pushed his big, old, dirty, shoes off my pants.

Well, Ms Spencer saw me and gave me a check, which made two.

What’s a guy to do?

So the year went from a possibility of something good, to the same as every year for me in school.

But I learned that I had to figger this out myself. It took me awhile. From Kindergarten to second grade, it meant a whole lot of emails sent home.


  1. Okay, I'll be the first to comment. I've never written chapter books, so I'm not very qualified to post on this story. It seems like it is going to be an interesting story, but I'm thinking it might sound better if it wasn't in first person, but that's only my opinion. I would get rid of some of the passive writing and words such as was, just, would, could, etc. Where you said, 'she seemed mad,' instead tell what she did to show that she was mad. Harry sounds like he is a very independent fella. I'm looking forward to hearing Sandi's comments, so I can learn, too.

  2. I'd agree with Janet and also voice some concern that this doesn't sound like a second grader's voice. It sounds like someone telling a story about a second grader. I think you'll lose a lot of that if you don't write it in first person. Lastly, do a word search for "saw" and remove the phrase it's in wherever possible. For instance: I saw that he didn’t accidentally stick his foot out, he did it on purpose.

    He tripped me! Is much more immediate and helps us feel the character's anger and age. I don't know if other folks refer to this as showing vs. telling, but it's part of how I take that axiom.