Sunday, June 16, 2013

Page 119

I read something on an agent’s blog about how at some convention they did a workshop where they read page 119 of a bunch of novels, and tried to decide if the novel might be good based on page 119.

Why page 119? No idea. Maybe because you've theoretically gotten past all the voice awkwardness that often plagues the beginning of novels, and this should be where everything's in full swing? I dunno.

I have three books I consider "publishable," so here are their Page 119s for you to enjoy (or be annoyed by). The following novels' page 119s are below the jump:
  • Finding Mulligan, New Adult/Magical Realism
  • Stupid Questions, Science Fiction/Romance
  • Bad Fairy, Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling

From Finding Mulligan, New Adult/Magical Realism
Page 119 

Oh look, it's Gabi and Cassie sniping at each other. Cute!

“I told you I wasn’t really in a good mood when I answered the door. Did you think it’d cheer me up if you came in and made fun of me?” 
Gabi sighed. “Cassie, your ass is fine. Your whole self is just fine. I was just kidding around. You’re supposed to laugh when I make fun of my bubble butt. Lots of guys think small-boned women are really sexy, I promise. Lots of girls would kill to be in your shoes.” 
“I’m not ‘small-boned.’  I’m just scrawny and immature-looking.” Back when I’d first hit my teens I’d figured I must be a late bloomer, but nowadays I’d assumed blooming wasn’t really on the agenda at all. 
“Well then, Miss Scrawny, let’s put some meat on your bones and take you out to lunch. Come on, I’m buying.” She tugged on my arm, and I just turned away. “Let’s go have some Mickey D’s, and I’ll call Greg and see if he’ll meet us there.”
I heaved a sigh and reached up to take my hair out of its doomed twist. I didn’t really want to go anywhere; I wanted to stay here and focus on my loneliness, which was hard to do if I couldn’t get people to leave me alone. Why was it that I’d just done a spell to bring my love to me, yet I’d only been rewarded with a phone call and a visit from Gabi? Why wasn’t Mulligan calling and coming over? 
My e-mail chime went off.
I shivered and glanced in the direction of my desk. Oh, my gosh. What if it was from Jamie or something? If it was, was that a sign? I got up like I was in a trance and walked toward the computer. 
“C’mon, get some shoes on and let’s go. You can check your e-mail later. It’s probably just porn.”
“Maybe I like porn,” I snapped.
“Dissing your best friend for pornography. What a perv.”
From Stupid Questions, Science Fiction/Romance
Page 119 

Weird, it turns out to be a ramble about kind of the central problem of the book, which is "how do you have a down-to-earth romance with a girl who can fly?" Nick's in a bar with his friends. Yay.

“Huh. That’s my boy. That’s what I wanted to hear.” Bart punctuated his statement with one of those annoying noogies that left a rat’s nest at the back of my head. “Remember me at your wedding.” 
I ate another wing, thinking. Wedding, huh? Well, Bart was cheering me up, but he wasn’t helping much with my wish to turn off my brain for the night. As soon as he said that, I started thinking about my future with Summer, and even though I wasn’t even technically her boyfriend yet, I wondered what would happen if we did get serious. 
Being her partner. Being her husband or something. Summer Astley was, quite frankly, one of a kind, and in some rather disturbing ways, too. I remembered having a thought about how it would be creepy to live with her if she tended to use her powers at home as liberally as she’d suggested, so what would it actually be like to live day in and day out in a world where inanimate objects unexpectedly floated across the room? If I had to worry about other guys seeing my girlfriend’s panties when she was flying? If she became my wife and our kids inherited her abilities? 
Whatever. At this point I just wanted to be some guy interested in some girl, exploring whether we were taking this further. She represented a lot of changes and a ton of odd concepts, but I was tired of chewing on big problems. I wanted to be stupid and follow my attraction and my heart across the country, and I wanted to not be dealing with any questions about the nature of my own existence or worrying about how she was going to deal with those questions. Couldn’t a guy just fall in love anymore? 
Or, for that matter, get wasted? 
I got up to grab another drink and asked Bart if he was up for staying sober enough to drive me home tonight. I didn’t have to ask twice or justify myself; he just accepted it and let me past him out of the booth. Sometimes the guy was a pain in the ass, but I had to give him one thing: he knew when to just shut up, and he knew when it was his turn to step up to the plate with a favor.  
All relationships should be this simple, I thought. But if they were, would they be as rewarding in the end? 
It was a shame that I needed to have four shots in me before I stopped coming up with thoughts like that, but that did it.

From Bad Fairy, Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling
Page 119

Well . . . this falls solidly on the melodramatic side, because my dear protagonist Delia is quite a serious little girl, and introspective rambles in italics are pretty common throughout the book.

We walked back to the circle, and thoughts buzzed around my head so strongly I hardly saw where I was going. How could she take the word of “wiser folks” on what was behind any door? When ships were lost at sea, mapmakers labeled the unknown territory with sea monsters and dragons. I wanted to see these dragons if they existed, and beyond that, I wanted to ask them what in the world they were doing there.

Reevaluating that important conversation with my teacher, I wonder about her ultimate rejection of the dark arts. From what she hinted, she had run into three problems: no available instruction, no approval from other fairies, and fear.
I know now that darkness can be scary sometimes, because even I am a child of a sighted world—one which relies on light to show the way. But I still always knew that shadow was a necessary part of the light. I have faced and conquered my fears, because fear lives in and feeds on deliberate ignorance. Facing fears can only illuminate them, canceling them out.
I still maintain that focusing only on light is an obstacle to progress; exploring only that which is established and understood is to create a foothold for stagnation. It sentences one to a body of knowledge that recycles itself instead of one which continues to grow. I refuse to be that foothold. I embrace the unknown, the future, the chaos. And I must embrace them strongly and with great power, because I am balanced precariously on the losing side of a biased scale.
I am aligned with the element of Water, as Kyrene was. Water is the western point of an elemental circle; it represents the place where the sun goes down—where daytime goes to die. It is the element of depth, of mystery, of dreams and foresight, of wisdom and death. But I am also aligned with the Fire; partly because my nature is to embrace and understand my opposite, but also partly because Fire represents passion and change. It is difficult to find a substance that does not change somewhat when thrown into fire. Paper withers. Skin singes. Gold forms itself into a perfect spherical bead, finding its completion in the flames. I am not afraid of the burning. It is necessary for all change.
And that's all my page 119 cross-sections for you today. Would love to see some from others. ;)


  1. Huh. This is interesting o_o

    I tried it right now with the only work I have that's recent, long enough, and that I do not severely dislike and it's...a relatively short conversation between the two leads. Just a bit of interaction that hints at a larger conflict between them o-o

  2. Hmm. I tried this just now with three novel drafts and got one character having a near-fatal asthma attack, another character being assaulted, and a third character facing off against a flesh-eating ghoul. Apparently page 119 is the page where bad things happen!