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 school assignment

Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2008 11:03 am
Posts: 79
Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:34 pm
Hey, guys. I mostly hang out on the Novel or the Ann Martin board.

I wrote a memoir which was actually a homework assignment, and I'm sort of an aspiring author, so I thought you could review this, give me feedback, you know.

Las Vegas, Baby!

"Are we in Nevada yet?" I asked, as Dad was driving a green minivan. He was driving along Interstate 15, and we were on our way to Las Vegas.
I'd been looking forward to our trip to Las Vegas for days, even though I was going to a place that was thought of as "the Disneyland for adults" (well, adults who love gambling, to be more precise). We were going for two days, and one night.
But Sam, my two year old brother and I were both sick, so we almost cancelled our trip. But we went anyway, although we ended up not going until almost noon.
When we got into the car, it was windy. "Hope we don't wind up eating at Windy's," my dad had said.
"Me too," I replied. "Although we might eat at Wendy's."
But we didn't. We stopped in Victorville for lunch. We ate at McDonald's.
We stopped for a bathroom break at Denny's. I wasn't sure what city it was in.
Then, we didn't stop until we were in Las Vegas. We were staying at Circus Circus. So we checked in, and had dinner at the Circus Buffet. My grandparents live with us. So my grandpa stayed with Sam while he was sleeping. My grandma went to the casinos with Mom, while Dad and I went to see a circus act, then go to the indoor theme park.
We did not go on any rides in there, but Dad and I did play air hockey. I won all the rounds. We were planning to have fun here the next day.

The next morning I woke up. Mom and Sam (I'm not so sure) were still sleeping. I worked on something I'd brought along, just in case there was nothing to do.
I wanted to go hang out with Dad in the hotel room next door. So I knock on the door, and there was no answer. I even asked if anybody was there. Nobody was. So I went back and told Mom about it. She said we'll have breakfast together. So we had it at the Casino Café. We ate scrambled eggs, hash browns, and sour dough toast.
And then we found Dad. I told him about our breakfast. He was jealous, so he had our leftovers for his breakfast. We saw a circus act together, and then we split up. This time, everybody except for Mom, who went to the casino, went to the theme park.
We did not go on any rides, because Dad said it was a rip off, since we could get it at Disneyland (to which we had annual passes). Well, he thinks no park beats Disneyland. You see, that's the only theme park he's ever been to. Well, at least the only famous one. And also, Dad said that he would pay me ten dollars for not going on any of the rides.
So we played air hockey for a while, and then we came across an arcade that reminded me of Boomers or Chucke Cheeses. But instead of tokens, you had to pay with quarters. And you handed the person behind the counter the tickets, not a receipt. I won a light up pen, but it was eventually destroyed.
After that, it was time to leave the theme park. So we went to find Mom. She came out of the casino, crying, with a cup of coffee. It was because she did not win any money. The cup of coffee may have been a symbol that she would rather spend her money on a drink than on casino games.

And then, we went home. On our way, we stopped for two bathroom breaks, and when we were an hour away from home, Sam began entertaining us with a parody of the alphabet song.
Our last stop was my favorite buffet place. We had an awesome meal.
And after that, we went back home.

 Re: school assignment

Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:05 pm
Posts: 858
Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:30 pm
Well, it's pretty good, but you stray a lot... if the trip is about Las Vegas, we don't really need to know where you ate along the way or restroom breaks (etc). Just focus the story on Las Vegas and it will be nearly perfect. Nice job!

 Re: school assignment

Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:42 pm
Posts: 478
Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:04 pm
Hey, thanks for posting this. Sounds like you had a pretty sweet trip to Vegas - not going to lie, I'm a little jealous. :) I agree with the other comment that says you might get a little too distracted at times... as it is, this narrative reads more like a travel log than a memoir. That is, it feels like you're trying harder to tell us absolutely everything that happened than tell us a story. A memoir actually happened, but it's still a story - everything you include should serve a purpose, should be part of the bigger narrative.

Part of this has to do with what details you select in the first place, but part of it is how you present them, too. An example of a detail that you might just want to omit entirely is how many bathroom breaks you took on the way home (unless something funny or exciting happened there, or you noticed something that made you think, or anything else that you can choose to make this detail "significant"). But here's an example of what you could do to change a series of random details into a narrative, a story:
"'Are we in Nevada yet?' I asked Dad. He was driving our green minivan along Interstate 15 towards Las Vegas." - This way, you combine a few bits of information into one sentence and keep the story going.

The way you present the bit about you and your brother being sick also seems like a series of loosely connected details rather than part of a cohesive narrative, a story that flows. Focus on transitions: it reads like an afterthought, and very stream-of-consciousness - but Sam and I were sick, so we almost cancelled, but we went anyway, although it was late. Here's one way you could combine these details: "It felt even better to be on the road now because we hadn't been sure that we'd be able to go. We had almost cancelled our trip because my two-year-old brother Sam and I had woken up sick. Fortunately, we were still able to go, even though we got a late start." (This also fixes some verb tense issues.)

This is another place that could use combination, deletion, or tweaking: "But we didn't. We stopped in Victorville for lunch. We ate at McDonald's. We stopped for a bathroom break at Denny's. I wasn't sure what city it was in." See if you can do the same sort of editing that I suggested earlier on this one by yourself. There are more places throughout the narrative - see if you can turn every series of details into part of a *story*. (So, questions you can use as a self-test: does it flow? Is it interesting/relevant?)

I like your descriptions of family interaction. Maybe you could concentrate more on those - the little stories-within-a-story - than details like rest stops. Remember, if this memoir is a story, your family members are your characters. Don't just tell us what happened: show us.

Keep writing and posting!

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