After receiving a bit of feedback from a variety of people, I realized the first chapter lags a bit. There’s not enough action. I sought to resolve this by taking my first paragraph and conveying all of that exposition into a scene.
The original paragraph:
There were only two more weeks until freedom. The halls of Cheatham Hill Magnet High School were full of excitement and anticipation. No one felt it more than the graduating seniors. With college and careers ahead of them, they were able to avoid or mediate the tension that was endemic among the underclassmen. When fights broke out in the halls–common before summer break–a senior broke it up. Normally, they would have spectated or egged it on, but hope on the horizon made them unusually magnanimous.
The new section:
The Benson twins were fighting again. They started in the cafeteria, screaming at one another. They came to blows in the science hall. The varsity football team, shuffling in to the locker room from an early-morning practice, glanced at the pink-and-blonde flurry, too sweaty to care.
As the girls threatened to pull each other’s hair out, two seniors broke from the mass. One was tall and lean, with chestnut hair and green eyes. The other was short and broad, strawberry blond with puppy-dog brown eyes. Without discussion, each boy took a twin over a shoulder and carried them in opposite directions.
“Witt!” one shrieked from the redhead’s shoulder. “Get your filthy hands off me!”
“Seriously?” He was unruffled, carrying her toward the back door. “Two weeks ‘til graduation, and you wanna get suspended? You want Dr. Magee to cancel the senior picnic?”
Her high-pitched reply was unintelligible. He kicked the door open, tossed the girl out, and jerked the door shut again. She slammed her fists against the window, flinging a muffled slew of profanity. She would not be able to open the door from the outside for another half-hour.
Witt returned to find the taller boy with his back against a shuddering classroom door. A familiar shrieking emitted from the room: “Z, move your mother fucking–Oh!”
Z snickered. “Dr. C must be here early.” He peered through the window. The harpy stared at the front of the classroom, stammering an apology. He pulled the door open, and she pushed past him, blushing furiously.
“Sorry, Dr. Creighton.” He leaned into the room, and was surprised to find, not his rotund and silver-maned science teacher, but a lean and dark-featured stranger. The man’s expression shifted from amused to alarmed, staring at the boy with a glimmer of recognition. It faded as quickly as it had appeared. Z had certainly never seen him before. He gave him a dismissive wave. “Sorry,” he repeated.
“What?” Witt asked, peering into the classroom.
“Sub,” Z grunted.
Witt grinned impishly at the substitute. He smirked back, looking just as mischievous. Z grabbed Witt’s shoulder pad, jerking him back into the hallway.
Neither of them anticipated the shadow that would fall over their high spirits.
Let me know what you think!