A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the craziness of deeming a work “uninteresting” if there aren’t explosions in the first 250 words.
Perfect Chemistry, a very popular book by Simone Elkeles, begins with *gasp* the main character looking at herself in the mirror while getting ready for the first day of school. TWO things that I’ve been told will instantly KILL a manuscript. Hmmm, I gobbled this book up in a day, and I’m pretty sure the fact that Simone Elkeles is a NY Times bestselling author and that this book won the RITA award mean that it was okay to start the book on the first day of school and without a death, maiming, or explosion.
“Everyone knows I’m perfect. My life is perfect. My clothes are perfect. Even my family is perfect. And although it’s a complete lie, I’ve worked my butt off to keep up the appearance that I have it all. The truth, if it were to come out, would destroy my entire picture-perfect image.
Standing in front of my bathroom mirror while music blares from my speakers, I wipe away the third crooked line I’ve drawn beneath my eye. My hands are shaking, damn it. Starting senior year of high school and seeing my boyfriend after a summer apart shouldn’t be so nerve-racking, but I’ve gotten off to a disastrous start. First my curling iron sent up smoke signals and died. Then the button on my favorite shirt popped off. Now my eyeliner decides it has a mind of its own. If I had any choice in the matter, I’d stay in my comfy bed and eat warm chocolate chip cookies all day.
‘Brit, come down,’ I faintly hear my mom yelling from the foyer.
My first instinct is to ignore her, but that never gets me anything but arguments, headaches, and more yelling.
‘I’ll be there in a sec,’ I call down, hoping I can get this eyeliner to go on straight and be done with it.’
Finally getting it right, I toss the eyeliner tube on the counter, double and triple check myself in the mirror, turn off my stereo, and hurry down the hallway.”
I couldn’t help but laugh as I typed the word ‘eyeliner’ multiple times. About a year ago I took an online YA writing course, and the instructor returned my first chapter with some snarky comments–among which was “Enough with the lucky shirt. One mention of it is plenty.” I wonder if she would’ve said to this NY Times bestselling author, “Enough with the eyeliner. One mention of it is plenty.”
I don’t mind the focus on the eyeliner. I get it. When you’re stressed, little things become extremely important and the main focal point. And I don’t mind this “dull” opening. I can relate to the first day of school, so I don’t care how many books I read that begin that way. I can instantly connect.
Obviously, many other people feel the same way. Despite the lack of explosions.