Brenda Drake is having another awesome contest and the judges are four teens. How cool is that! I’m pretty excited about having my target audience checking out my material. I just had a teen finish reading my ms and she loved it, such a good feeling. Anyway, rules for this one are simple. On July 17th, post your pitch and first 250 words, go visit the other entries,give/get feedback and then post your final version on the site. The girls will pick three winners on July 20th.
Prizes? One winner will receive a 10 pg and synopsis critique and two runners up will receive either a 10pg or a synopsis critique.
Here’s my entry:
Title: BROKEN FOREST: A KEENING BLADE NOVEL
Genre: YA Fantasy
pitch: Avikar always dreamed of exploring Tarrtainya; he never imagined it would be in search of his sister.
first 250 words:
Avikar slid his feet into the worn leather boots. The rooster crowed again, reminding him he was late, but he didn’t care. He was tired of shoveling manure.
His father shouted about dumping a water bucket on his head if he didn’t wake.
“I am up,” he mumbled. He would have loved to yell back, but he found that a snide retort only took away his supper.
The wooden floorboards creaked under his steps. Some days he wondered if his little loft would crash down into his sisters’ room. He grinned and imagined his prissy sister, Jeslyn, wailing for days about how he ruined her frilly garments. He grabbed the small ladder and climbed down.
In the common room, his mother kneaded dough while his five-year-old sister, Calli, ate at the table. He slumped into the chair across from her and grabbed a bowl of rue.
“Where’s Father?” he asked, noticing the empty seats, especially the one his brother used to sit in.
“Poppa’s outside. You’re late, again.” Calli replied in between bites. She swung her legs back and forth, underneath the table. It was too early for Avikar to care. Sleep tugged at his eyelids, enticing him back into his feathered bed.
His mother poured him a cup of fresh milk. “You all right, honey?”
“Just tired,” he replied and dunked a piece of fanna into the bowl. The dense bread soaked up the onion-flavored liquid, and he shoved it in his mouth.
***if you haven’t already, enter in my Spread The Love Contest: The Sky is Everywhere here
What a cool contest. Good luck with it. I hope the teens love your work.
Nice excerpt. Best of luck to you.
Hi Eliza! Your story sounds really compelling, and I really love the title. Here are just a few points that popped out to me during your first 250 words:
1. "I am up." This sounds a little clunky to me, like a robot is speaking. If Avikar speaks in Old English, this is totally acceptable, but I would probably substitute this phrase for something a little easier to digest (like "On my way," or "Coming") until we've met his family and passed judgment on their particular style of speech.
2. You introduce Jeslyn and Calli rather quickly, and the phrase "noticing the empty seats, especially the one his brother used to sit in" sounds a bit too much like an information dump. I'm sure the sisters are important, and I'm sure his older brother's absence is a compelling piece of the story, but this method of introduction just feels a little too quick for me.
3. "It was too early for Avikar to care." Does he care that Calli is swinging her legs, or does he care that he's late? Not completely clear.
4. I lLOVE it when people include tastes in their novels, and your last line here is great. It's a compelling little detail, and it opens the door for Avikar's brooding or resignation, whichever comes next.
Overall, I definitely love the scene-setting here, and I really feel like I am in this place with Avikar. Good job, and best of luck to you!
I love the log line! The only question that came to mind regards Tarrtainya and what kind of place it is. It's obviously a place people want to go – maybe it's just me and I want a descriptor here. idk
And now that I've read the excerpt, I want to know WHICH sister. Although I don't think you need to indicate this in the logline.
PS – could find nothing wrong with the excerpt except (for me) it's lacking intrigue. It has everything else – voice, we know who and where, but it's because of the log line that I want to read more. Maybe if we could get some foreshadowing of this Tarrtainya place? idk
Hope I helped!
I agree with Alison's comments above – I too wondered what was special about Tarrtainya, and felt that not a lot happened in the excerpt. He woke up and had breakfast. Maybe a few more hints of what is to come would be more intriguing.
Love the log-line. Short, sweet, and to the point!
The story itself hasn't grabbed me. I like it when books start in the middle of some action, and waking up isn't action. It does give me a sense of the players though (I'm assuming the bratty sister is the one he goes after?)
This "His father shouted about dumping a water bucket on his head if he didn’t wake" could be actually written out instead of told, and would help us get an even better sense of their relationship.
Good luck in the contest 🙂
thanks everyone! I've gone back and forth with beginnings. I have another version that starts in the middle of action, but people complained they didn't know enough about the characters too care. I'll see if I can spruce this one up.
Really nice log line, intrigued me right away.
Set up is important, but I agree that a bit more action/dialogue to hint at the major conflict would give it that all important zip.