02-07-2011 05:51 PM
Hi, I've recently finished a novel and I need help on critiquing the first chapter of the book so that it will be impressive and get readers hooked. Here's the first chapter. Comments and critiques would be appreciated. Thanks.
"I’m coming!" I shouted as I ran down the stairs. I sprinted into the kitchen and I stuffed some toast in my mouth along with a gulp of orange juice.
"I've gotta go." I mumbled with a full mouth as I grabbed things and stuffed them in my backpack.
"Don't forget your history report Tyler!" My mom said right as I was about to sprint out the door.
"Oh! I almost forgot. There's no way I'm going to get on the bus!" I shouted frantically as I ran upstairs. I shuffled through drawers of my desk in my room.
"Found it." I said to myself as I grabbed the report and yanked it out of the drawer. I flung myself back down the stairs with the report in my hand. I didn't have the time to shove it in my backpack.
"Okay, bye!" I yelled to my mom as I ran through the living room and out the door. I came out of my house and it was hard to see in the early morning sunlight. I blinked my eyes a couple of times to wake myself up. I looked down to the opposite end of the cul-de-sac and the bus was letting people on. I sighed in relief as I jogged past the loop of the cul-de-sac and I was aimed towards the bus.
I usually run for track when it's in season, so I had a pretty good build. I always felt almost weightless when I ran.
I felt like the suburban houses were racing by as I flew, but I was so focused on catching the bus that it was hard to notice. I was half way down the street when I saw the bus start to move.
I slowed down to a halt and stared in defeat. I was so close to making it, I couldn't stand it. Right before I turned around to go back to my house, I saw the long yellow vehicle stop a little down the street.
"Yes." I muttered to myself as I picked up my pace again to jog to the bus.
I came up to the sliding door panting. I hopped on board and started to make my way through an ocean of backpacks and bags in the isle. When I got to the back of the bus, I plopped down tiredly. I felt the bus surge forward.
"I held the bus for you, again Ty." The girl next to me said.
"Thanks, Taylor." I weakly said back. I was still breathing heavily.
Last summer, Taylor moved into a house across the street from mine. The only kids on the street were me, John, and Taylor. John was my closest friend. We'd hang out after school and do homework together. Then, Taylor moved in. After I met Taylor, we started hanging out a lot, but she never really seemed to care for John and he didn't seem to really care for her either. Things started to change. John didn't talk to me as much and I got closer to Taylor. I started to notice her golden blonde hair with some streaks of brown and her bright blue eyes, they were spontaneous, but they were calm and collected at the same time, like the ocean.
Then things really changed. I never showed how much I liked her but I think that John knew.
"So what happened this time?" Taylor asked me.
"I—my alarm clock didn't go off." I stammered.
She gave me a look like she knew that I was lying.
"Fine," I admitted, "I forgot to set it, but I did get extra sleep. And I got some exercise. I haven’t run that fast since last year."
"Nice." She said sarcastically while letting out a laugh.
At that moment the bus hit a gigantic pothole in the road and everyone got launched into midair and screamed. It felt like I was floating for a second, then gravity returned and I hit the hard bus seat.
"Ouch, I think I hit something." I said in pain, while rubbing my back.
"What was that?" Taylor had a weird look on her face, a look that I had never seen before. She glanced at me, and then turned around to look at the road behind us. "Uh—Ty—I think you should see this."
I turned around and then I had the same look on my face. I saw an opening in the road. It was a crack that split the road in half. It was large, but it was barely small enough for vehicles to go across it.
"Oh my gosh.” I said slowly, in awe.
"Isn't this the same way that the bus took us yesterday?" Taylor said, still turned around watching the crack disappear in the distance.
"Yeah." I said, astonished.
"And that wasn't there yesterday."
"What could’ve happened?"
“I don’t know. I didn’t feel an earthquake or anything like that last night.” She said, puzzled.
The bus pulled up next to our school. It looked like a prison, with separate wings spanning out in all directions, including up. We all flooded out the bus doors and into the hallway to get to class on time.
* * *
The bell just rang for us to go to our third class of the day. Taylor and I had just come out of Biology, the only class we had together. We were both in the ninth grade. I sometimes notice how I’m about half of a foot taller than her but that never mattered.
We started talking as we walked into a crowded hallway with people rushing to their classes.
"What do you think you made on that quiz?" I asked.
"Oh, that was so hard. I probably made a seventy. What about you?"
"I don't know if I even made a seventy." I sighed.
"You probably didn't do that bad."
"I don't know. I was practically guessing."
"Wow, hey do you have that history report that's due today?"
"Oh, yeah, I finished it last night. History is definitely not my subject."
"I think I'll do okay on it."
"Actually, I’m going to History right now. Wish me luck on the project." I said turning to go down a hallway that branched off of the one we were walking through.
"Okay. See ya later."
* * *
“Please hand in your projects if you haven’t already.”
The bell just rang and everyone was in their seats. A couple of people got up and put their projects on Mr. Howard’s desk. John was in my history class. I gave him a look of boredom, and then I stared out the window as Mr. Howard continued lecturing and pacing around the rectangular room.
“Now, remember the battles of Lexington and Concord? Well when the British were on their way to the colonies Paul Revere rode to the steeple of a church to warn the colonies by using lanterns. What a lot of people don’t know, is that he had a partner named William Dawes. Dawes’ went to—yes, Rebecca?”
I heard a girl in front of me speak out.
“This is kind of off subject but when will we get our project—”
I looked at her. She stopped in the middle of her question. Her eyes became filled with fear. She had the same look that Taylor had earlier.
“Did you feel that?” She almost whispered.
I didn’t know what she was talking about. I didn’t feel anything. I looked outside. Vehicles’ horns were blaring and I noticed they were shaking. I looked back at John with wide eyes and he had the same expression on his face.
“What the—” I said under my breath.
Other people started staring out the window in awe. The trees were shaking back and forth, with loose leaves falling to the ground. I saw a crack open up in the ground and run from the sidewalk into the school, causing windows to shatter. Everyone screamed as the ground rose up and fell again. I was thrown out of my desk and onto the floor.
“Get under your desks!” Someone screamed in the mess, and I crawled desperately, forcing myself under a desk.
The ground started shaking rapidly. I grabbed onto anything possible, but I fell on my side anyways. It felt like the ground was moving in every direction possible, all in about five seconds. I tried to reposition myself so that I was on my hands and knees, but I realized that there was broken glass beneath me. I was about to fall over onto the glass so I put my hands down, despite the pain. The desks and other pieces of furniture were skidding across the room as the ground shifted back and forth. I heard crashes down the hallway and screams. I tried to hold on tighter but I was getting tired and weak. My arms hurt from the glass imbedded in them, and they hurt from the shaking.
I looked around to see other people desperately trying to hold on as the ground released its tension. A small crack opened up and split the classroom apart. It was about two feet wide, big enough for someone to fall into, but it wasn’t big enough to cause the roof to collapse. I turned my head to look across the room and I saw John on the floor, grabbing onto anything possible. I closed my eyes and tried to block everything out.
Finally, the shaking subsided. I was still crouched down for a minute to make sure that the earthquake was over. I slowly moved my head out from under the desk to see everything that had happened. I smelled a thick ash and dust in the air. I cautiously crawled out from under the desk, trying not to use my hands. I saw other people trying to stand up, and some ran over to help others that were trapped. I realized that the earthquake had only lasted about fifteen seconds, it felt like fifteen hours.
I carefully walked over to the shattered windows, trying not to step on papers and random objects that were tossed onto the floor during the earthquake. I looked back across the room and I couldn’t see John. I walked over to the side of the room where he was at and all I saw was a huge ponderous cabinet on the ground where he was. I tried to move the heavy cabinet, but I couldn’t. All I could do was help other people.
All emotion was drained from my face. I was in shock. I walked back over to the shattered windows and helped a couple of people out of them. Then I threw my own body through it. I pulled myself through the window, and landed on my back on the sidewalk. I looked up into the dull sunlight, smothered by ash. Then I looked towards the tree line of the forest behind out school. There were pillars of smoke rising high into the sky. I got up weakly and looked around. Everything was gray because of the smoke and ash. There was a group of people standing where the buses usually dropped us off. There were probably seventy people; about a third of the school’s population.
I walked over to the small mob of people. They were all scurrying around talking and looking for friends. I walked up and started doing the same. I wandered around in the confusion for a while when I saw a girl standing alone, trying to take in all of the destruction. I walked over to her. She was covered in ash which made her blue eyes stand out. I grinned. It was Taylor.