First 250 words: YA fantasy

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priya g.
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First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by priya g. » October 23rd, 2010, 11:59 am

The first 250 words of my novel, A Lullaby which is a YA fantasy, well just on the brink of paranormal romance too. Rip it apart. I can take it (I think).

I wanted to stop my feet from tapping erratically. I always did that when I was anxious- sometimes it was when I had too much dessert or when I was making a fuss out of nothing. Obviously it wasn’t the first case today- I hadn’t even had breakfast. It could be the second one, but clearly I wasn’t going to admit that.
The scent of raw eggs and flour drifted from the kitchen. I sniffed at it, trying to get it out of my system. It wasn’t a good combination. When would my reply arrive? I asked myself for the millionth time. I wanted to drum my fingers on the coffee table. Maybe even stand up and pace the length of the hall. Practically anything to keep me sane.
I nearly willed the doorbell to ring. I wanted to get my answer and stop staying up nights, trying to picture a future I so badly wanted. Not a day had I been so restless, like a fish flung out of water. Or helpless.
And then the doorbell did ring. I almost believed my greatness, or that I was bestowed with some magical unheard of powers while rushing to the door. I was ready to pull it apart in my impatience. Finally I was going to find out. At long last.
Or not.
“Agam!” I gasped at the sight of a twig-framed girl, fortunately and also unfortunately my sister, crying on the porch. I tried to hide my disappointment at seeing her.
Last edited by priya g. on October 23rd, 2010, 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by sbs_mjc1 » October 23rd, 2010, 12:21 pm

I think your opening works overall, though you might want to include some hint of what the character is waiting for. If we're in the MC's head, it seems borderline manipulative to withhold information that she's no doubt thinking about. Besides, I think it will help the reader get more invested in the character.
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Beethovenfan
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Re: First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by Beethovenfan » October 25th, 2010, 12:48 am

I like the feel of the story, the imagery you are setting up. However, it's a bit wordy. You have a lot of filler words that get in the way. I have made a few suggestions:

The first 250 words of my novel, A Lullaby which is a YA fantasy, well just on the brink of paranormal romance too. Rip it apart. I can take it (I think).

I wanted to stop my feet from tapping erratically I don't think you need this word. I always "always" implies that you still do it so need to change tensedid do that when I was filler words, take out anxious- sometimes it was when I had I do it when I've had too much dessert or when I was making have made a fuss out of nothing. Obviously it wasn’t the first case today- I hadn’t even had breakfast. I do not understand this sentance. Wasn't the first case of what before breakfast?It could be the second one, but clearly I wasn’t going to admit that.
The scent of raw eggs and flour drifted from the kitchen. I sniffed at it, trying to get it out of my system. Is the smell a bad smell? If so, why? Why are you trying to get it out of your system? It wasn’t a good combination. When would my reply arrive? This sentence is an inside thought, so should be italicized. I asked myself for the millionth time. I wanted to drum my fingers on the coffee table. Maybe even stand up and pace the length of the hall. Practically anything to keep me sane. Instead of simply "wanting" to do this things, I think it would be more effective if you actually do them, futile efforts at keeping yourself sane. I nearly willed the doorbell to ring I stared at the door willing the doorbell to ring. I wanted to get my answer and stop staying up nights, trying to picture a future I so badly wanted. Not a day had I been so restless, like a fish flung out of water. Or helpless.

And then the doorbell did ring. Too many filler words. Just say "The doorbell rang." It's simple and effective. I almost believed my greatness, or that I was bestowed with some magical unheard of powers while rushing to the door I think this may be a bit overwritten. Simple is better. Perhaps "My feet had wings as I rushed to the door, almost pulling it apart in my impatience. I was ready to pull it apart in my impatience. Finally I was going to find out. Filler. You don't need it.
Or not.
“Agam!” I gasped at the sight of a twig-framed girl, fortunately and also unfortunately my sister confusing, crying on the porch. I tried to hide my disappointment at seeing her.

I really do think you have the beginnings of a good story. These are, as I mentioned earlier, just suggestions. Take e'm or leave 'em! Hopefully this was helpful and not a major rip session. Good luck! :)
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Re: First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by erin_bowman » October 25th, 2010, 6:14 pm

I agree with the comments about this being a little overwitten. Sometimes I felt like I was reading the same line twice, written with just very subtle differences, and this kind of thing makes the work feel choppy and slowed me down.

Some thoughts:

I wanted to stop my feet from tapping erratically. I always did that when I was anxious- sometimes it was when I had too much dessert <-- maybe 'sugar' instead, or just 'too much to eat'. I just feel the more generic this is the clearer the following comparisons would be. or when I was making a fuss out of nothing. Obviously it wasn’t the first case today- I hadn’t even had breakfast. <-- again, maybe just say 'I hadn't even eaten yet'. Keep it simple and straightforward. It could be the second one <--the later, but clearly I wasn’t going to admit that.

The scent of raw eggs and flour drifted from the kitchen. I sniffed at it, trying to get it out of my system. if you're trying to get something out of your system, wouldn't you avoid sniffing? It wasn’t a good combination.

When would my reply arrive? <-- I'd put this in quotes so it sounds more like the character is actually asking themselves it. I asked myself for the millionth time. I wanted to drum my fingers on the coffee table. Maybe even stand up and pace the length of the hall. Practically anything to keep me sane.

I nearly willed the doorbell to ring. I wanted to get my answer and stop staying up nights, trying to picture a future I so badly wanted. Not a day had I been so restless, like a fish flung out of water. Or helpless. These few sentences tell me nothing new. I already know the MC is sick of waiting and has been nearly driven mad with anxiety. I would rework this to maybe focus less on the anxiety and more on WHAT they are waiting for. "trying to picture a future I so badly wanted" is very vague... is this a college acceptance letter they are waiting for? the results of an arranged marriage? an assignment they are to be sent on... Seeing you're writing YA fantasy, its probably not the college route, but I think this is a good place for you to do a little world building and give the reader a sense of what's coming.

And then the doorbell did ring. I agree with others. Simplify this. "And then the doorbell rang". I almost believed my greatness, or that I was bestowed with some magical unheard of powers while rushing to the door. I was ready to pull it apart in my impatience. Finally I was going to find out. At long last.I know you're trying to get at the fact that the MC had wished so strongly to get her answer that the doorbell rang on her behalf, but it's muddled a bit. I'd just try to clean this paragraph up a bit.

Or not.

“Agam!” I gasped at the sight of a twig-framed girl, fortunately and also unfortunately my sister, <--why is this both fortunate and unfortunate? crying on the porch. I tried to hide my disappointment at seeing her.

---

Ultimately, there's something of interest here. The MC is waiting for some bit of information that is likely life-changing, but the tension of this gets lost in all her anxious rambling. Obviously, it makes sense for her to be anxious, but I would suggest cleaning up her thoughts (maybe limiting how much she talks about her nerves), and try to weave in a bit more about what answers are actually coming her way.

priya g.
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Re: First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by priya g. » October 26th, 2010, 1:36 pm

Thanks to all for the comments

i am working on the next draft, will post it up soon!

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Re: First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by kans_007 » October 26th, 2010, 2:25 pm

It's a pretty good opener. Sounds like the character is waiting for some kind of reply to an application or something that concerns her future. I think a lot of people would be able to relate to the character (being concerned about one's future etc.), so that's great too. There is an amount of suspense which is good. Hopefully you build on it well by giving a few more hints or breaking the suspense sooner without making the reader wait too long (like another poster has suggested).

You can be a bit more conservative in your word usage. E.g.
And then the doorbell did ring
Consider "rang" instead of "did ring".

It looks like the scene is based on today, but there are instances when the tense is based on past . E.g.
" I always did that when I was anxious"
[Consider "I always do that..."] I think another poster has done a more thorough editing, so I am not going to repeat what he or she said.

Good luck!

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Re: First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by Mariam Maarouf » October 28th, 2010, 7:22 pm

I just wanted to say that I personally think it's a good start. Keep it up.
However, I got a little bit distracted while reading; it's either the character is having incoherent thoughts, or my tea latte + The Social Network's very fast-speaking MC have affected my intellectuality. :) Oh, and the sugar part is totally from the last post.


I wanted to stop my feet from tapping erratically; I always did that when I was anxious. Sometimes, it was happened when I had too much dessert sugar or when I was making was trying to make a fuss out of nothing. Obviously, it wasn’t the first case today since I hadn’t even had breakfast anything since yesterday*. It could be the second one, though, but clearly I wasn’t going to admit that that's not something I was willing to admit.

The scent of raw eggs and flour drifted from the kitchen. I sniffed at it, trying to get it out of my system covered my nose in an attempt to prevent any further damage as it leaked into my system; it wasn’t a good combination and the lack of fresh air definitely didn't help my nervousness. When will my reply arrive? I asked myself for the millionth time. At that moment, I felt like I could do anything to keep me sane - drum my fingers on the coffee table, stand up and pace the length of the hall - anythingI wanted to drum my fingers on the coffee table. Maybe even stand up and pace the length of the hall. Practically anything to keep me sane.

Come on, doorbell. Just one ring. Please. You don't know how much I just need to get my answer, stop staying up nights, imagining the future I really, badly want. I was practically nearly willed begging the doorbell to ring; not a day had I been so restless, like a fish flung out of water. Or helpless.

And then the doorbell did ring. I almost believed my greatness, or that I was bestowed with some unheard-of magical, matter-communication of powers while rushing to the door. Impatient, I was ready to pull it apart. Finally I was going to find out. At long last.

Finally.

Or not.

“Agam!” I gasped at the sight of a the twig-framed girl who was fortunately (and also unfortunately) my sister, crying on the porch. I tried to hide my disappointment at seeing her.


* I think it's more appropriate than breakfast; if the MC is anything like me, for breakfast to be 'official', it had to have certain ingredients. Never mind my babbling. It's not a major edit after all.

Guess it's a little bit more organized like that. Again, great job, Priya. And I don't think it was overly described if the reply she's waiting for is something crucial to the story; we, as readers, must feel the tension she feels then. To me, to overly describe is like moving a film in slow motion: if it's used at the right times, it makes writing more than superb.

And, unlike the others, I understand the 'fortunately and unfortunately' part (just to clear it up: fortunately because it's her sister. I mean, HELLO. And unfortunately because she wasn't the reply she's waiting for). I have no comments on clarity. And the questions raised about the nature of the reply is a good sign; you don't want everything unfolded within the first 250 words; it's not even the first whole chapter, you know?


Good luck!
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Fenris
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Re: First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by Fenris » October 29th, 2010, 2:21 pm

I have to agree with Mariam--the first 250 words should raise questions. How else will you grab the reader's attention, make them want to keep reading and find out? Maybe it's just me (and Mariam, of course), but it seems like that's a good way to suck readers into the book.

Now. I had no trouble with most of the adverbs in your sample, but then again my own writing has been criticized repeatedly for having too many, so perhaps I'm not the best judge. But a few things did confuse me:
priya g. wrote:...sometimes it was when I had too much dessert or when I was making a fuss out of nothing. Obviously it wasn’t the first case today- I hadn’t even had breakfast.
This was a bit of a disconnect for me. I thought she was talking about dessert, not breakfast? I support Mariam's edit here.
priya g. wrote:I nearly willed the doorbell to ring.
How do you nearly will something to happen? This is one of the adverbs that confused me.
priya g. wrote:...or that I was bestowed with some magical unheard of powers...
Aren't magical powers generally unheard of? I don't think you need the 'unheard,' but I like the overall idea that the character feels he or she has caused the doorbell to ring simply because he or she willed it to happen.
priya g. wrote:Finally I was going to find out. At long last.
Slightly redundant--perhaps "At long last, I was going to find out," or just keep the first sentence.

Sorry for the endless quotes--still figuring out the forums. And if I repeated what someone's already said, sorry! Still, I hope this helps.
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Re: First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by Moni12 » November 7th, 2010, 3:23 pm

priya g. wrote:I nearly willed the doorbell to ring. I wanted to get my answer and stop staying up nights, trying to picture a future I so badly wanted. Not a day had I been so restless, like a fish flung out of water. Or helpless.
I really like this beginning, the one thing I would change is the order of your words. You compare a fish flung out of water to being restless, next sentence you say helpless. A fish out of water is more helpless, so I think if you just switch the two words around it'd make more sense.

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Re: First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by Erin » November 12th, 2010, 1:57 pm

I liked it. It was slightly random, which works for YA. I definitely got the anxiety and tension. But the last line deflated it a bit. Also, I think a hint or tease as to what it is, might be beneficial. Overall - Nice job.

I'm curious, it the MC a girl or boy?

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Josin
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Re: First 250 words: YA fantasy

Post by Josin » November 13th, 2010, 8:04 pm

priya g. wrote:The first 250 words of my novel, A Lullaby which is a YA fantasy, well just on the brink of paranormal romance too. Rip it apart. I can take it (I think).

I wanted to stop my feet from tapping erratically<-- not a great opening. One, she CAN stop her feet if she wants to, so this is a silly thing to say. Two, this reads as though "erratically" modifies her desire to stop the tapping.. I always did that when I was anxious- sometimes it was when I had too much dessert or when I was making a fuss out of nothing.<--- another weird thought. Obviously it wasn’t the first case today<--- makes it sound as though this is the second bout of toe tapping she's had. And at this point, nothing's "obvious" to the reader. They don't know your MC yet.- I hadn’t even had breakfast. It could be the second one, but clearly I wasn’t going to admit that.<-- why clearly? Again, the reader doesn't know this girl. None of her decisions or actions will be obvious or anticipated.

Toe tapping was a habit I'd had as long as I could remember. It didn't take much, just a bit of overindulgence at dessert or a few too many nerves telling me I needed to move something or go insane. There was no chance of sugar overload before breakfast, so it could have been a hyperactive flare... but you'd never get me to admit it. I tried to stop, really I did, but every time I convinced the left leg to be still, the right one covered for it.

The scent of raw eggs and flour drifted from the kitchen. I sniffed at it, trying to get it out of my systemTrying to get what out of her system? The smell? If so, then why'd she sniffing? Sniffing implies pulling air, but I think you mean puffing it out.. It wasn’t a good combination.

You need a break here.

When would my reply arrive? I asked myself for the millionth time. I wanted to drum my fingers on the coffee table. Maybe even stand up and pace the length of the hall. Practically anything to keep me sane.

The scent drifting out of the kitchen was no help - raw eggs, flour is never a good combination, and once it's in your nose, all you can do is try to blow the air back out. Which of course, leaves you looking like an idiot who couldn't find a tissue. At that point, I didn't care.

'Where are you?' I asked my non-existent reply in my head for the millionth time. It should have been here already. I wanted to drum my fingers on the coffee table. Maybe even stand up and pace the length of the hall.


I nearly willed the doorbell to ring. I wanted to get my answer and stop staying up nights, trying to picture a future I so badly wanted. Not a day had I been so restless, like a fish flung out of water. Or helpless.

'Ring already!'

I glared at the door and willed myself to develop spontaneous mental powers over stubborn, silent doorbells.


And then the doorbell did ring. I almost believed my greatness, or that I was bestowed with some magical unheard of powers while rushing to the door. I was ready to pull it apart in my impatience. Finally I was going to find out. At long last.
Or not.

When I actually got a loud chime in response, I almost believed my greatness, or that I was bestowed with some magical unheard of powers while rushing to the door. I was ready to pull it apart. After all this time waiting, the answer was secondary to finally ending my wait.

“Agam!” I gasped at the sight of a twig-framed girl, fortunately and also unfortunately my sister, crying on the porch. I tried to hide my disappointment at seeing her.

Hope that helps.

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