December 8, 2011

guess your character's age contest

I'm entering a contest sponsored by the fabulous Brenda Drake, and I'd like to know what you think about my entry before I submit it.

Here are the rules: Post the first 250 words of your finished, or not quite finished, manuscript (any genre) to your blogs. This contest is about voice--whether or not your character's voice matches his or her's age. So if you mention the age or school grade in the first 250 words, please edit it out or block it out for this contest. Don't list the genre or title on your posts. If your 250 words falls in the middle of a sentence, continue to the end of the sentence.

Check out the first 250 words of my novel in progress. Please let me know what you think. Ttake a crack at guessing Elliot's age, too, if you're inclined.


In a few short hours, Elliot Lynch would find herself buried under a mound of work. She could hardly wait.

She was home to work for Engagements, her family’s wedding and event planning business. Her sister had run the wedding side of the business for years, and now it was her turn. Their father planned to partially retire, and her sister would step into his role. Elliot was more than willing to let her sister handle the stuffy convention halls. For her, florists, bakeries, and chapels were like a second home, and she welcomed the homecoming.

She loved it on Cape Cod. For the past decade, Elliot had been away more than she was here, and she was ready to change that. The older she got, the more she appreciated the connection to her past.

Weddings were in her blood. Her mother had been an event planner before Elliot was born. Growing up, weekends were often spent in churches and dining halls, week day afternoons at appointments with vendors. It taught her patience from an early age. Her mother expected her to be on her best behavior wherever they went, and Elliot was always eager to please.

Based on that experience, Elliot knew her life would soon be a chaotic mess of brides, caterers, florists, seamstresses, and anyone else who had a part in planning a couple’s nuptials.

Marrying off couples meant her cell phone would be her most meaningful relationship. She accepted the fact and moved on.
Can you guess Elliot's age? Any other thoughts?

As an added bonus, anyone who leaves feedback for me will be entered to win this week's Twelve Days of Writing drawing. (This isn't technically part of the series, but I figure why not.) Be sure to check back Friday at 2 p.m. CDT to see if you are this week's winner. Read about the contest and what prizes you can win here.


  1. A lot of age cues here! I'll say 25.

  2. I'm guessing mid to late 20's. But that's mostly based on the clues of college and job experience. This sounds like a fun and intriguing set-up for a great story.

    And if you want truly honest feedback, I think you could up the voice just a little, and maybe even cut some of this backstory and feed it into your novel eslewhere, just to pick up the pace at the beginning.

    But it sounds like a great premise with lots of potential. Good job!

  3. Thanks for the feedback, Julie. I took it into consideration and updated the opening. (Openings are rough for me.)

  4. I'm guessing 28. The premise is interesting--something I would read. :)

    A word about the writing, be careful of overusing the verb "to be" too often. It forces you to "tell" the story rather than "show" it, and the text winds up reading like backstory. Try using action verbs to advance your prose.
    Good luck. :)

  5. I'm guessing Elliot is in her early 30s.

    My only comment is that you have a lot of back story in this beginning. I don't feel any looming conflict, nothing to pull me in.

    And the first full paragraph confused me.

  6. I'm going to guess she's about twenty-three or twenty-four, though in this occupation, she could be in her twenties or thirties. The writing was really warm and lovely. ^_^

  7. Thank you, Laura. P.S. I love your name.

  8. I'm going with around 30. Great opening!

  9. 28-30, since she's been away for 10 years. She's obviously adult, but not "old." ;)

    I do have a suggestion: You started out telling me that she was free and mentioned a vacation--then, when I'm picturing luxurious lounging around and sun-bathing on beaches, she's actually excited to be working--and you never get around to explaining why she felt free, since it actually seems like her "free" time is what she wants to get rid of, and that she'll feel more "free" when she's free to do the job she wants. If that makes sense? I say skip the "free" nonsense and dive right into the blissful working. :)

    Also, do you need quite this much explanation on the first page? I got a bit bogged down in details. Maybe leave off telling me about the last generation of event planners until chapter 2? I'd suggest starting the book as she walks into her first day in charge of the weddings. Seed the backstory in more gradually. (First pages are HARD! I've rewritten mine completely countless times, each time starting in a different spot.)

    Still, even as-is, sounds like a fun story. :)

  10. yep 28 - except for the line - most women her age....

  11. Great opening. I'm going with 30ish

  12. I think I'm gonna go with 29? This is so fun - I love reading your story!

  13. Thanks for all of the great feedback and comments. For the sake of this contest I think I might leave it alone for now, but thanks to your comments I have an idea of where to start when I do my revisions. Thank you again!

  14. I would guess 28?? She seems still young but ready for a serious relationship.

  15. I'm thinking 28 because she is old enough to be left with the responsibility of the business but it seems like she had to wait a while to get there. The only advice I have is to add some action with the back story to keep the story moving forward. Just a thought. Great job!

  16. Elliot is certainly an adult and I'm guessing she is "of marrying age" with the hint about her relationship with the cell phone. I sense an unexpected romance popping up on her calendar. My guess is that she is 25.