1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

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erin_bowman
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1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

Post by erin_bowman » October 20th, 2010, 12:25 am

First page (roughly) of my MS. I'm still heavily editing a few sections of the story, but the first third is in good shape and so I'm looking to get feedback on how it opens. Anything is helpful (hook, flow, voice, style, you name it). Many, many thanks in advance. :)

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Today is the last day I will see my brother.

I should be spending these remaining hours with him and instead I’m in the meadow, watching a crow pick at the carcass of a half eaten boar. The bird is a filthy thing; slick black feathers, a beak of oiled bone. I could wring his neck if I wanted, sneak up on him and crack his frail bones between my palms before he even heard me coming. It doesn’t matter though. Crushing the life from the bird’s small frame won’t save my brother. Blaine’s been damned since the day he was born, just like myself, just like all the boys in Claysoot.

I stand abruptly. The crow, startled by my movement, lifts briskly into the early morning light. I send an arrow after him and miss, but mostly on purpose. Truthfully, I’m no better than the crow, scavenging what I can, hoarding any bit of meat that might feed our people. If my dark hair were feathers, I might outshine even the bird’s gleaming darkness.

There’s nothing much left of the boar. The carcass is hallowed out, animal having feasted on the belly and undercarriage. A hind leg appears intact, but there are too many flies and I don’t want people getting sick. Even with the Wall encompassing this entire place, it’s not worth the risk; especially not today. The last thing we need on the eve of the Heist is more stress and worry.

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Re: 1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

Post by D.T.Roberts » October 21st, 2010, 5:06 pm

This is an intriguing beginning. I wonder, is it in the distant past when people lived in tribes? A Post-apocalyptic society where groups fight over resources or a strange new world, yet to be discovered by the reader?

I have only a few comments below.

Today is the last day I will see my brother.

I should be spending these remaining hours with him andbut instead I’m in the meadow, watching a crow pick at the carcass of a half eaten boar. The bird is a filthy thing; slick black feathers, a beak of oiled bone. I could wring his neck if I wanted, sneak up on him and crack his frail bones between my palms before he even heard me coming. It doesn’t matter though. Crushing the life from the bird’s small frame won’t save my brother. Blaine’s been damned since the day he was born, just like myself, just like all the boys in Claysoot.

I stand abruptly. The crow, startled by my movement, lifts briskly into the early morning light. I send an arrow after him and miss, but mostly on purpose. Truthfully, I’m no better than the crow, scavenging what I can, hoarding any bit of meat that might feed our people. If my dark hair were feathers, I might outshine even the bird’s gleaming darkness.I'm confused by this line. The sentance before, you say you are no better that the crow, but now you say you might outshine him (if your hair were feathers)

There’s nothing much left of the boar. The carcass is hallowed out, animal having feasted on the belly and undercarriage. A hind leg appears intact, but there are too many flies and I don’t want people getting sickThis line is implied. "Too many flies" gets the point across. Even with the Wall encompassing this entire place, it’s not worth the risk;What's not worth the risk? Eating meat with too many flies? and if so what does the encompassing wall have to do with it? especially not today. The last thing we need on the eve of the Heist is more stress and worry.
The first few lines set up the story nicely. I would be interested enough to read more and learn about the relationship between the narrator and the brother. Find out why it's the last day to see him.

Good luck.
It has been said that writing comes more easily if you have something to say.

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Re: 1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

Post by Emily J » October 21st, 2010, 7:14 pm

erin_bowman wrote:First page (roughly) of my MS. I'm still heavily editing a few sections of the story, but the first third is in good shape and so I'm looking to get feedback on how it opens. Anything is helpful (hook, flow, voice, style, you name it). Many, many thanks in advance. :)

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Today is the last day I will see my brother. certainly an attention grabbing first line!

I should be spending these remaining hours with him and instead I’m in the meadow, watching a crow pick at the carcass of a half eaten half-eaten? boar. The bird is a filthy thing; <-- semi-colon is not correct here i would suggest "the bird is a filthy thing with slick, black feathers and a beak of oiled bone." or something like that slick black feathers, a beak of oiled bone. I could wring his neck if I wanted, sneak up on him and crack his frail bones between my palms before he even heard me coming. It doesn’t matter though. Crushing the life from the bird’s small frame won’t save my brother. Blaine’s been damned since the day he was born, just like myself, <-- me? just like all the boys in Claysoot.

I stand abruptly. The crow, startled by my movement, lifts briskly into the early morning light. I send an arrow after him and miss, but mostly on purpose. Truthfully, <-- dont think this is adding anything I’m no better than the crow, scavenging what I can, hoarding any bit of meat that might feed our people. If my dark hair were feathers, I might outshine even the bird’s gleaming darkness. hmm poetic language but nut sure i follow the image of outshining darkness

There’s nothing much left of the boar. The carcass another word maybe? corpse? remains? is hallowed out, animal having feasted on the belly and undercarriage. <-- the second part of this sentence needs reworking, also think there is a verb subject agreement problem here A hind leg appears intact, but there are too many flies and I don’t want people getting sick. Even with the Wall encompassing this entire place, it’s not worth the risk; hmm, again non-standard usage of the semi-colon, i might suggest actually having a period here and leaving this part as a sentence fragment --> especially not today. The last thing we need on the eve of the Heist is more stress and worry.
interesting opening. You have the teaser trailer sort of opening line but I think it's works here and is not too gimmicky. It definitely leaves me wanting more which is great!

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Re: 1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

Post by sgf » October 22nd, 2010, 12:21 pm

Hi Erin,

Thanks for your thoughts on my first page! Here to return the favor.


Today is the last day I will see my brother. I loved this hooky first line. Great start!

I should be spending these remaining hours with him and I agree with other reviewer that this should be "but"instead I’m in the meadow, watching a crow pick at the carcass of a half eaten boar.

The bird is a filthy thing; slick black feathers, a beak of oiled bone. I could wring his neck if I wanted, sneak up on him and crack his frail bones between my palms before he even heard me coming. This isn't a big deal, really, but there was a bit of a disconnect for me between referring the bird to a thing at first, and then using the "he/him" pronoun to refer to it. Along with his assertion that he could sneak up on the bird, it made me wonder if the narrator isn't quite human, if he's some sort of shapeshifter or something.

It doesn’t matter though. Crushing the life from the bird’s small frame won’t save my brother. Blaine’s been damned since the day he was born, just like myself, just like all the boys in Claysoot. This is good, though I kind of wanted to know more about what it meant to be "damned". Or, more importantly, how his brother being damned led to his impending departure.

I stand abruptly. The crow, startled by my movement, lifts briskly into the early morning light. I send an arrow after him and miss, but mostly on purpose. This sounded a little odd. Either he means to hit or or doesn't.


There’s nothing much left of the boar. The carcass is hallowed I think this should be "hollowed"; hallowed means something like to make holy out, animal having feasted on the belly and undercarriage. A hind leg appears intact, but there are too many flies and I don’t want people getting sick. Even with the Wall encompassing this entire place, it’s not worth the risk; especially not today. The last thing we need on the eve of the Heist is more stress and worry.

I thought this was a very good first page. You introduce a lost of mysteries, do a nice job of establishing a protagonist as well as the setting. I'd definitely turn to the next page. Hope some of my comments are useful!

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Re: 1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

Post by Krista G. » October 22nd, 2010, 3:22 pm

erin_bowman wrote:Today is the last day I will see my brother.

I should be spending these remaining hours with him, and but instead I’m in the meadow, watching a crow pick at the carcass of a half eaten boar. I'd hyphenate "half eaten," but that could definitely be more of a stylistic thing than a grammatical one. The bird is a filthy thing: slick black feathers, a beak of oiled bone. I could wring his neck if I wanted, sneak up on him and crack his frail bones between my palms before he even heard me coming. It doesn’t matter though. Crushing the life from the bird’s small frame won’t save my brother. Blaine’s been damned since the day he was born, just like myself, just like all the boys in Claysoot. Intriguing way to end this paragraph.

I stand abruptly. The crow, startled by my movement, lifts briskly into the early morning light. I send an arrow after him and miss, but mostly on purpose. Truthfully, I’m no better than the crow, scavenging what I can, hoarding any bit of meat that might feed our people. If my dark hair were feathers, I might outshine even the bird’s gleaming darkness. I like this paragraph a lot. It tells us quite a bit about our protagonist, both his physical appearance and his personality, in a skillful way. Nice job.

There’s nothing much left of the boar. The carcass is hallowed hollowed out, animal having feasted on the belly and undercarriage. By "animal," do you mean the crow? You might want to just say "the crow" for clarity's sake. A hind leg appears intact, but there are too many flies and I don’t want people getting sick. Even with the Wall encompassing this entire place, it’s not worth the risk; especially not today. I don't think the semicolon is correct here. As I understand it, a semicolon has two purposes: to join two complete sentences without a conjunction and to separate long or comma-riddled entries in a list. So I'd change this to a comma, or, if you want to create a bigger pause, a period. The last thing we need on the eve of the Heist is more stress and worry. Again, a great way to end this paragraph.
This reads a lot like the opening pages of THE HUNGER GAMES. We have an MC (albeit a male one, which is a nice touch) who's ekeing out a living in some hard-to-survive place and a looming catastrophe that the MC already seems to know a lot about but is powerless to stop. The query probably reads quite differently, which might be enough to give this first page its own flair, but on its own, I'm having a hard time getting past the comparison. Might there be another place you could start this, someplace that wouldn't be quite so reminiscent of Katniss hunting in the woods, waiting for the Reaping?
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Re: 1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

Post by erin_bowman » October 24th, 2010, 11:50 am

Thanks for your thoughts everyone!

The line about the bird and "outshining" his darkness. DT Roberts and Emily both make good points about some of the conflicts in this line. I was trying, with this paragraph, to do two things: 1) hint at the MC's personality (that he is similar to the bird, taking what he can with no amount of shame) and 2) weave in the MC's appearance (his dark hair is as shiny/gleaming/dark as the birds oily feathers. Now that I go back and read it, I definitely see how these things may be communicated in my head, but confusing to others. Krista seemed to read it the way I intended, but given Roberts&Emily's thoughts, it's clear there's still a bit of work/clean-up to be done there, so thanks for that.

To everyone that pointed out the use of "but" over "and" in the first line, and "hollowed" (instead of hallowed), you are completely right. Thank you , thank you!

On an opening similar to the HG, as mentioned by Krista... I completely agree and have struggled with this a bit myself. I've messed with where the story begins a few different times, and always end up back with what I posted here bc it just feels right. My query (which I am still cleaning up -- I seem to stink at writing these) will read differently than HG... In short, all boys within the Claysoot community disappear when they turn 17 and there is no true understanding among the people as to why/how this 'Heist' happens. It is accepted as a way of life, much like births/deaths, but a discover by the MC after his brother's Heist leads him to believe there may be more to the workings of the Heist than the community believes. Instilled with an unyielding desire to discover the truth, he makes the decision to climb over the Wall enclosing the town - a feat that no one before him has survived - and discovers that his world is not as he had known it...
Gosh, that's probably the best I've described the premise in awhile... maybe this was a good exercise in working on a portion of my query ;) Either way, as Krista suggests, my beginning may just be too reminiscent of HG and could perhaps benefit from starting in a different place. What does everyone else think? I'd love to hear more thoughts on this.

Thanks again to everyone who has left thoughts/edits/suggestions here so far. I really appreciate it!

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Re: 1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

Post by J. T. SHEA » October 24th, 2010, 2:22 pm

A great page, Erin! Lots of hooks and hits, which need no elaboration at this point.

I agree with some of my fellow commenters' suggestions, though not all. Your protagonist's first comparison with the crow is an ethical equating of their shared status as scavengers. His second comparison is an aesthetic one regarding their appearance. You are also right to spell out that, in this case, the flies imply the meat is rotten, since even fresh meat will attract flies. I also agree that an archer (or shootist) can be conflicted as to whether they wish to hit their target or not.

I take it the word 'animal' in the last paragraph should be preceded by the indefinite article, if singular? 'AN' animal? Or read 'animals', plural?

I wouldn't worry about THE HUNGER GAMES, any more than Suzanne Collins should worry about BATTLE ROYALE or the many other dystopian YA novels, comics and movies.

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Re: 1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

Post by erin_bowman » October 29th, 2010, 3:29 pm

JT Shea... you are completely right on the "animal" edit. It should read 'animals', implying that beyond the bird, there have been others visiting the remains. Great catch. Thanks again for reading through, for the kind words, and for providing some additional thoughts on this opening and its similarities with other works! :)

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Re: 1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

Post by androidblues » November 1st, 2010, 7:35 pm

I agree with JT Shea. Great opening. Don't worry about the Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins took most of her story from Battle Royale any way. Your story sounds more like The Village if anything.
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Re: 1st page, YA Dystopia (THE LAICOS PROJECT)

Post by Aurlumen » November 5th, 2010, 4:17 pm

I realize this post is a few weeks old but I just wanted to say you did a good job of grabbing my interest! (And considering how picky I am with intros to stories and such, I think this is a very good thing ;] )

I like the 'hook' of the first sentence and particularly this other sentence "Blaine's been damned since the day he was born..." though despite the rest of the sentence that makes you assume the MC is also a boy, I'm just weirdly one of those people who assume the MC is always a girl unless specifically told otherwise. O.o

Though with some of the others I do have to admit that as soon as I read the word "Wall" and "Heist" I immediately thought of the Hunger Games (not to mention when you suggest the people don't have much to eat). But after I read the summary you posted it's clearly a bit different and it certainly sounds like a very interesting concept.

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