Remember that contest I entered? Well, I finally got feedback on my second "page," and I got cleared to send in a third! In the interest of full disclosure, here's what I sent:---
Bobby earned extra money each summer by selling the snapping turtles he caught in a nearby swamp to a restaurant in town, where they were used to make snapper soup. Today, Bobby had tried to show off by making the turtle bite twigs and sticks in half over and over again. Eventually the turtle had snapped, too, and it went after Bobby instead of the stick. He would be lucky to get away with only his pride wounded – I’d heard a turtle of that size could easily bite off a finger or two.
Mr. St. Clair – father of Barbie and Bobby – poked his head outside. Shaking his head, he calmly walked up behind the turtle, picked it up, and returned it to the cardboard box Bobby had used as a cage.
“I don’t object to you catching turtles for the restaurant, Robert, but I do not want to see you mistreating them. It’s bad enough that its home in the swamp is going to be turned into a housing development soon. You don’t have to torture it, too. Either take it to town, or release it. Your choice.” He shot an irritated look at Bobby and went back inside, screen door banging shut behind him.
“Oooooh! Bet you’re embarrassed that Dad had to save you from that horrible beast,” Barbie said, rolling her eyes. Bobby narrowed his eyes and glared at her as he stooped to pick up the box.
And here's the comment I received back:
the backstory feels a bit jammed in and we wondered if this was set in the past or current day time, given what the character is doing
I'm going to overlook the comment on the year, because while that is clearly stated at the beginning of the chapter, she just doesn't go back and review the first page(s) you sent when she reads the current submission. If you were reading the two submissions right in a row, it should be pretty obvious that it's all happening in the past.
And I appreciate the feedback on the backstory. I'm going to think of some ways I could bring it in via conversation, rather than internal monologue, to make the scene move along a little faster. Always interesting to get other people's perspectives on things I've stared at for WAY too long myself.
So, moving forward, here's submission three:
“I wouldn’t expect you to understand how dangerous snapping turtles are, since you don’t have the guts to go in the swamp and catch one yourself.”
“I’ve got plenty of guts! I just can’t go through the poison ivy to get there, you know that,” she said.
Barbie and I had spent most of the summer exploring the wild areas around our little community – poking around in the fields and ditches, wandering through the woods, collecting rocks and shells on the beach. But we had never explored the swamp, which was surrounded by a forest that was dripping in poison ivy. Bobby was able to push through it because he didn’t react to the stuff, but Barbie was violently allergic. Like the caring brother he was, Bobby had been taunting her with stories of how awesome the swamp was, knowing it was impossible for her to get back there without a hospital visit afterwards. And my parents said I was too young to go in the swamp – I think my mother was convinced I would get bitten by a snake, lose a toe to a snapping turtle, and then drown in a pool of quicksand, all on the same visit.
Barbie’s inability to explore the swamp was a sore point for her, and I wanted to avoid watching another shouting match. “Let’s go to my house. We’ve got better things to do than sit here and listen to Bobby’s ‘Reasons the Swamp is Awesome’ lecture again,” I said, jumping down from the picnic table.
I've got the next few submissions edited and ready to send (assuming I get the green light!). Gotta plan ahead when you're trying to compete in something like this and have to leave in the middle of it on spring break!