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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: Ellie & Zach
By Donna New


Witty and cool, Ellie is popular in her high school of just over 1000 students. Once in a while they call her "holy church lady" because she goes to church on weekends, doesn't use foul language and is, well, different. But mostly they enjoy her quick wit and sweet nature. She has a way of bringing out the best in everyone and helping them to laugh at themselves. Ellie is wise for her years.

Ellie and Zach have been together about a month. Zach moved here from New York and is a quiet, gentle and polite gentleman. The only trouble with that is quiet people are sometimes easily swayed. His friends have been telling him that he doesn't need to be with Ellie. He asks why and they say she's a goodie-two-shoes that hangs out with Mollie.

Ellie and Mollie have been friends since 6th grade. Ellie helps Mollie with her homework sometimes. Mollie makes her blue ribbon peach pie for Ellie once a month because of the help. They have a system and it works. And they are BFF until one of them gets married. Once they marry they've both decided that their grooms take the place of BFF.

Well, Zach is beginning to wonder if no one will hang out with him if he keeps dating Ellie. Ellie's popular but she's kind of weird. He's not sure about the church-going and the way she doesn't cater to her more popular friends. So he begins to distance himself from her, becomes a little cool emotionally.

She asks him about it and he explains his feelings. She tells him that each person matters to God no matter what their economic level or their IQ or their ability to be cool. She can't change that part of her and she tells him she wouldn't change that if she could. Jesus didn't have favorites and He hung out with the outcasts and the more popular.

Zach wonders why this all mattered to Ellie. Ellie says that God is not in a box that she only keeps inside her for Sundays. The Lord is intimately involved in every decision she makes. Zach never had met anyone like Ellie. He said "Ellie, we need to talk more later. I want to hear more of this. You are a multifaceted lady. I can't say I agree with you yet but you put forth a very good case. And at least it is very quirky but pretty view of life. You are a surprise a day girl!"

Ellie and Zach made it through this little bump in the road. And Ellie knew just how to pray for him a little better. Time and the Lord are on her side so Zach might be in for more surprises.

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Jan Ackerson 02/21/08
This would be good for teen groups to read.

I think a piece like this reads better in past tense; otherwise it sounds like you're just narrating. Can you find ways to show us Ellie's life? Give us dialogue, descriptions of her world of sight, sound, feelings?

You've definitely got the right idea--now figure out how to draw your reader in with strong, compelling words. Good job!
Yvonne Blake 02/22/08
Oh, the trials of those teen years!
Be careful of switching your verb tense, from present (is,makes,etc.) to past (was, called, etc.)
I also would have liked to see a little more of a "bump" of a particular incident.
I liked the "BFF" part.
Keep writing.
Patrick Whalen02/25/08

I'm definitely no expert but I think it is better to spell out numbers rather than using the numerics.

In your second sentence, the "well, different" seems to me to be more conversational language than descriptive text. For me that kind of redirection can be a bit distracting. It might work better, since you have room in your word count to further explain why she was ,well, different.

The phrase, "gentle and polite gentleman" seems repetitive.

Keep up the good work and you'll improve!
Marlene Austin02/25/08
Good story. You might consider having the story revealed through dialogue of characters rather than narrative. : )