Hi Twinkle. Thanks for posting this. I enjoyed reading your extract and think it has a lot going for it. You drop the reader straight into the action. There’s no back story or information dumping, but you do manage to let us know the character’s father is missing and she’s looking for him. Plus you give us a flavour of her mother. An effective fast opening, especially with your YA audience in mind.
There’s the occasional bit of dark humour coming through which creates the beginnings of a nice voice. I’d suggest developing this more to make sure it is consistent throughout.
There are a few things you might want to take a closer look at:
Filtering – This is where you use words of cognition like thought, wondered, felt, or action like looked, saw, heard. Because you’re in a character’s point of view, it’s not necessary to tell the reader that it is the character thinking feeling or seeing something, because it has to be them. So you can often simply remove these words. Doing that gets the reader to the crux of the sentence more quickly. More importantly, filtering adds distance between the reader and character/action, which is generally not a good thing. You’re dropping the character in front of the reader, filtering action through them, rather than letting the reader become so close to what’s going on that they feel like they’re experiencing it themselves.
Here’s a blog which will explain it much better than I can.
As an example from yours:
‘Maybe I’m hallucinating, she thought’ – it has to be her thinking this because she’s the POV character, so you can simply delete, and the sentence becomes much more immediate. The reader is being offered the character’s thoughts directly and in a way they become the MC.
‘Something underfoot. She looked down, expecting to see a bone or a skull, but it was only broken metal.’ ‘She looked’ is the filtering, and you’ve also got ‘see’ in there. Most of this can be inferred. She’s going to have to look down to know what’s there. But in these circumstances, you can’t just remove the filtering. You have to rework the sentence. Often moving closer into the character’s head helps with this. And the reworking often also strengthens the voice. As an example (in my style so not right for you) ‘Something underfoot. Eek, what was that. A bone or skull? Nope, just some broken metal. There went her overactive imagination again.’
Filtering’s quite an easy thing to fix, but makes a big difference to your writing.
Removing filtering also helps make you stay in your character’s head. I’ve made notes on extract where I felt it would be better to move closer.
There are a few sections that feel telly. Eg Describing the building. When she smells the rotting flesh – you’ve overloaded with both show and tell. Again I’ve made notes on the extract to help with this.
I also think the section where she encounters the creature needs some work. I feel the narration is too calm, particularly in the description of the creature, and loses the tension. This is where close psychic distance can be useful. Really get us close to the character and show there fear. Here’s a blog on it, and I’ve put an example on the extract to hopefully help.
Also be careful that the voice of the piece remains teenagerish. There’s a few slips which I’ve pointed out on the attached.
Hope that and the notes on the attached are helpful. I think you’ve got a great start here. Good luck with the polishing.