The Recruited: First Page Contest with Victoria Marini

Title: The Recruited
Genre: YA fiction
Word Count: 84,000 words

Chapter One: The Offer

Naomi Williams was running, tearing over the grass towards the concrete wall sixty yards away. She had maybe half a minute left to reach it, thirty seconds to push her legs as hard as they could go until she was out of time. Off to her right, clumps of uniformed girls paid her little attention, glancing up only after she’d blown by them.

Ten seconds. Five. Naomi slapped a hand against the wall just as the loud, metallic buzz of an industrial bell called them back inside. Breathless and panting, she braced both hands against the rough surface and leaned forward, dark hair hanging in her face as she stretched out the backs of her calves. There was never enough time for everything that running entailed. If she chose to stretch properly beforehand that took five minutes off her running time. If she didn’t, the cramps hit sooner. It was a battle she couldn’t win.

Raising her head, she craned her neck to see past the top of the concrete. From where she stood, the barbed wire curling along the top of the wall blotted out part of the sky.

“Williams,” a woman’s voice barked from near the entrance to the yard. “Get over here.”

Naomi drew a hand across her forehead, trying to wipe away some of the sweat. It wasn’t like she could go inside and put on a clean outfit. In juvenile prison, there were no changes of clothes at midday.

The guard opened her mouth to yell again, so Naomi picked up her feet and jogged back across the yard to get in line with the other girls. Not daring to push each other in front of the guards, they filed back into the prison’s air-conditioned interior, welcome after another eighty-five degree day. Gossip was for outside or the cafeteria, not inside when everyone was trying to get back to their cells.

To critique, just hit the “Leave a comment” button and go to town! Thanks in advance for anyone who takes the time to do so!


3 thoughts on “The Recruited: First Page Contest with Victoria Marini


    I like the way you fill the details in with action. You really show us the set up without telling us too much.

    One quibble– twenty feet in ten seconds is really slow. Like you would have to TRY to move that slow. I’m not sure anyone else would notice that, but I’m a personal trainer so it threw me.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I really liked the balance you have been the beginning urgency and then the plain reality that she is stuck in a prison.

    I would really like to see some slang in the narrative for some world building. Naomi is in Juvie for a reason, which makes me think, that even though this is third person, the narrator telling her story should be a little rougher to mirror her experience.

    Good luck in the contest! I’m participating too and would love your thoughts!

  3. Wow!

    This is a great beginning! Great action, draws me in immediately, and then the twist that it’s a juvenille prison? Wha–? You’ve got some seriously strong writing here. Be careful of using passive voice too much (try “ran” instead of “was running” to make your first line stronger), and maybe pull us more deeply into your main character’s head if that would suit your story. What’s she thinking and feeling during all this, for example? But truly, I found this compelling and well written and I would love to read more.

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