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Author Topic: YA fantasy Earth's Gate
Unwritten
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I've been editing/polishing this book for a few months. It's just under 110,000 words right now.

I've been perusing other first 13 submissions for a couple of weeks now, and it has gotten me thinking (yikes!) Before I make any drastic changes, I thought I'd get some opinions about the way it now stands. I love this part, but if the consensus is that it's not really "first 13" material, I'll probably just cut this first scene out entirely. It'll be a bit like amputating my little finger though, so take that into consideration

One of the children had drawn a giant rainbow on the wall as a goodbye present for Jenny. Instead of reprimanding him, she gave him a hug and told him she loved it. Cleaning it up wasn’t her problem anymore. By the time Lisa arrived to replace her, she was ready to leave. She would miss the children, but had no desire to pretend she was sorry to say goodbye to anyone else. One way or another, she was leaving the town of Hamilton, and there was very little that she would miss.
The road meandered along, roughly following the curving path of the Ioan River, but Jenny left the road, scrambling through the riotous spring growth of weeds. In years past, she, Philip and Sarah would have already worn a trail through the weeds, but


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InarticulateBabbler
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My take:

quote:

[One of the children<--[Name? Or what children?] had drawn a giant rainbow on the wall as a goodbye present for Jenny. Instead of reprimanding him, she gave him a hug and told him she loved it.<--[The second sentence made me stop because the first sentence gave me the impression "Jenny" was young.] Cleaning it up wasn’t her problem anymore. By the time Lisa arrived to replace her[As what? Where are we school? Orphanage?], she was ready to leave. She would miss the children, but [had no desire to pretend she was sorry to say goodbye to anyone<--Long way of saying: no one] else. One way or another, she was leaving the town of Hamilton, and there was very little that she would miss.<--Redundant.]
The road meandered along, roughly following the curving path of the Ioan River, but Jenny left the road, scrambling through the riotous spring growth of weeds. [In years past, she, Philip and Sarah would have already worn a trail through the weeds, but<--[IMHO - this is too soon to go into a memory. There is no earlier mention of these people, and I stopped to wonder why they are mentioned.]

Interesting setup. It lacks a hook. We know that she wants to leave, buit not why. Likewise, we know the town name, but no where she was at with "the children".

The rest is smooth.

I hope this helps.


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hteadx
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quote:
One of the children had drawn a giant rainbow on the wall as a goodbye present for Jenny. Instead of reprimanding him, she gave him a hug and told him she loved it. Cleaning it up wasn’t her problem anymore. By the time Lisa arrived to replace her, she was ready to leave. She would miss the children, but had no desire to pretend she was sorry to say goodbye to anyone else. One way or another, she was leaving the town of Hamilton, and there was very little that she would miss.
The road meandered along, roughly following the curving path of the Ioan River, but Jenny left the road, scrambling through the riotous spring growth of weeds. In years past, she, Philip and Sarah would have already worn a trail through the weeds, but

Just an observation; the majority of your writing so far is a narrative summary. My question is the first scene important to your story? If so why did you write it in a narrative summary? If it isn't important why lead with it?

You first two paragraphs could've been fleshed out into a full scene in which Jenny is showing the reader that she will miss the children but not the town.


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wrenbird
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I liked it. For some reason, the first line in particular struck me.

I would read on, for the lyrical value, and also to find out where she is going. Though, something should really grab us soon.
Also, I didn't get a very strong feeling of setting. The MC walking on the road makes me think typical fantasy, but the first part had a more modern feel. I'm not sure why.


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Zero
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quote:
One of the children had drawn a giant rainbow on the wall as a goodbye present for Jenny. Instead of reprimanding him, she gave him a hug and told him she loved it. Cleaning it up wasn’t her problem anymore. By the time Lisa arrived to replace her, she was ready to leave. She would miss the children, but had no desire to pretend she was sorry to say goodbye to anyone else. One way or another, she was leaving the town of Hamilton,

This is good. I liked the "cuteness" factor of the child's rainbow, and I think the thougt process here really connects the reader with Jenny, who she is, how she thinks. She's sensitive to the feelings of others, she feels tied down, wants to move on. And she's getting that chance. I can relate, I like it a lot.

quote:
she was leaving the town of Hamilton, and there was very little that she would miss.

Noting wrong here, but for some reason the tail of it struck me as a touch repetative. Not sure why. Perhaps something like "she was finally leaving Hamilton," would flow better? I like omitting the words "town of," although it is nice to know it's a small place instead of a big city. I also like omitting "little she would miss," because we already have that impression, I think. But it works fine the way it is.

quote:
The road meandered along, roughly following the curving path of the Ioan River, but Jenny left the road, scrambling through the riotous spring growth of weeds. In years past, she, Philip and Sarah would have already worn a trail through the weeds, but

For some reason I stumbled in the paragraph. But I can't point to anything wrong with it. I guess what caught me was "the riotous spring growth of weeds," it felt long to me. Maybe "riotous weeds," would be better, I don't know.

Good writing altogether, I think the strong points here are clear setting, clear point of view, and even some character dveelopment for Jenny. That's a lot to accomplish in such a small space. I give you an A.

I don't think it's important that we know why she wants to leave in the first 13, so long as the picture gets clear soon after.

[This message has been edited by Zero (edited May 14, 2008).]


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MrsBrown
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That first sentence is nice, and the not-caring about the cleanup. But the flow didn't work for me. I'm not hooked yet. I second Inarticulate Babbler's comments; he said it well.
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RobertB
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Cut the second paragraph, and give us a sentence or two of explanation. That's all it needs, apart from a little polishing. I don't think there's much of a hook, yet, but the reason for leaving could well be it.
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Unwritten
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quote:
The MC walking on the road makes me think typical fantasy, but the first part had a more modern feel. I'm not sure why.

This is actually a very astute comment. The world she lives on has been moderately influenced by a modern Earth.


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Unwritten
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These are much happier posts than I was expecting. This is advice I can live with. I realize now that I was much more attached to the first paragraph than anything else on the next 2 pages. My brain needs time to chew on this, but this was much more helpful than I expected it to be!

Thank you for not eating me alive the first time I tried this!
(After rereading this paragraph I realized that I must be hungry...)

I appreciate all these comments. You are the best!

[This message has been edited by Unwritten (edited May 14, 2008).]


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Zero
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I think we automatically imagine it to be like our modern world because there is so much we can relate to. For instance the social organization, some kind of buiilding with children who are attended to by professional aids. All of that feels modern to me, even though, I suppose, there really isn't any good reason to think that. Or maybe it's the fact that the child drew a rainbow on the wall. Indicating that colorful drawing utinsels are both developed and available. I don't imagine a child presing a quill against a stone wall. That just doesn't come to my mind when I think "rainbow." Maybe that's what it is.

I'm not really sure, actually. But I definitely got the impression it was modern.


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hoptoad
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Hi,

I don't think I know you, I have been gone for a while.

I like the scene with the rainbow, being a novel I think you can afford to expand it a bit, let us understand characters and relationships as well as set scenes.

It strikes me as vaguely 1900-1910 England/Scottish borders for some reason.


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Unwritten
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I've taken your concerns and added this beginning. I also eliminated several paragraphs after this because you convinced me I need to start the action sooner. It still doesn't start in the first 13 though. I'm not sure that's a problem for me. My hope was to show Jenny's sense of isolation here in the beginning but still make people want to turn the page.

The entire Douglas family, from the small town of Hamilton, had been raised with good old fashioned values. Grandmother was so against the way that humans and fairies interacted these days—like the racial differences didn’t even matter anymore—that Jenny had never even met a fairy. She hoped all that would change now that she was an adult.
One of the children had drawn a giant rainbow on the wall as a goodbye present for Jenny. Instead of reprimanding him, she gave him a hug and told him she loved it. Cleaning it up wasn’t her problem anymore. By the time Lisa arrived to replace her, she was ready to leave. She would miss the children, but had no desire to pretend she was sorry to say goodbye to anyone else. One way or another she was leaving


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MrsBrown
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You really confused me. The first paragraph is about how she was raised, so (at first) the second paragraph sounds like her litte sister is drawing on the walls at home. But then you mention her "replacement" so it it sounds like an institution. Where is Jenny??

Your first version worked better.

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited May 19, 2008).]


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Unwritten
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Drat! You're right.
I was hoping I'd found a way to mention magic in the first 13 lines. It isn't mentioned til page 3 at the moment, and that's always bugged me. Back to the drawing board.

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Corky
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Maybe something like "Jenny's entire family had been raised with good, old-fashioned values. Grandmother..." would work.

Then, start the next paragraph with Jenny taking one last look around the children's institution (whatever it is) and seeing the rainbow and so on. That might give us a better idea of who she is and where.


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InarticulateBabbler
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A novel doesn't necessarily have to have the speculative element in the first thirteen (you've got a couple of pages for that), but who, where and when--for me--has to be out there. Granted, if the who is compelling enough, that can stretch on, but I should be able to tell the era/scenery (inside outside) should be known.

Example (however poor):

Jenny Douglas watched little Vinny paint a giant rainbow on the cafeteria wall of the Hamilton Home for Wayward Children. Her heart swelled when he added the lime-green caption: We love you Ms. Douglas. A tear blurred her vision for a moment. The only part of Hamilton she'd miss was these children. She felt like a traitor leaving the children to the totalitarianism of the staff--especially that tyrant, Mrs. Hellequin. But, she had to get out of Hamilton before its tentacles strangled her ambitions like they had the magic that was once so abundant. Jenny wiped her eyes. With his stubbled scalp, big ears and wet brown eyes, Vinny looked malnourished in the baggy, drab-gray regulation suit. She wished she could take him with her. She wished she could free them all, but she had not yet freed herself.

I hope this helps.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited May 20, 2008).]


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