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Author Topic: Lightning Elves 1st 13
Architectus
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I appreciate all feedback and criticisms. Please don't worry about offending me.

Is it a strong enough opening to you? Do you want to keep reading? Thank you everyone in advance

NEW VERSION

Skyla blew a strand of white hair from her elfin face, stared at the pile of lightning capacitors, and re-rolled up her sleeves. She was determined to finish filling them all before her mom got back, but she had barely worked through half the pile that was stacked against the inside wall of their cabin. While stretching, she caught a glimpse of her long, pointy ears in the old mirror above the stone fireplace.

She flicked them. Why wouldn't she mature already, so they would fold back like everyone else's? Instead, her ears stuck straight out of her head like a freak.

After snatching another clear canister, she plopped down on a chair that her little brother carved from a log. Skyla pressed her fingers into the jell-like lid, ready to fill the tube. Her

OLD VERSION (This is just to see what changed.)

On days she was supposed to fill lightning capacitors, Skyla never knew if she would meet her quota.

If she had better control over her lightning powers, she would have been finished already. She often wondered if sucking so utterly had something to do with whoever her father was.
She sat upon a chair that her little brother carved from a log as she grabbed an empty glass canister from the pile to her left. She had barely worked through half the pile. Mom's going to be upset, she thought.

She opened the special lid and shot bolts from her fingertips, filling the clear tube with a loud-yellow color. Her stiff tongue stuck out the corner of her mouth, her brows pinched, and her long ears slightly pulled back as if in deep concentration.


[This message has been edited by Architectus (edited September 22, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Architectus (edited September 22, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited September 22, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Architectus (edited September 23, 2009).]


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Lou
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Hi Architectus. How's it going?
I'm a newbie and am totally untrained at this, but if you don't mind my 2 cents, I have a comment or two.
First, I'm unsure of the age of your target readers but you have used clear and simple terms enough for any group but that knowledge would help in the "suggestions" department.

On days she was supposed to fill lightning capsules, Skyla never knew if she would meet her quota. <Here you are combining the fantastic and the mundane. This can work well if the dynamic tension is good, when it sizzles and pops if you know what I mean. Here you might want to kick it up a notch. This can be done by making the first part sound a bit more spectacular or the second part more dire, like showing more dread on her part.>

If she had better control over her lightning powers <Unless you are reaching for the youngest of readers those two words could be improved on >, she would have been finished already. She often wondered if sucking so utterly had something to do with whoever her father was. <This could possibly be reworded to pique the reader's curiosity a bit. Like - ...if her lack of skill was due to her mysterious parentage and her missing father that no one would talk about, or some such>
She sat upon a chair that her little brother carved from a log as she grabbed an empty glass canister from the pile to her left.<How about some indication of size and perhaps a touch of mystery in description.> She had barely worked through half the pile. Mom's going to be upset, she thought.

She opened the special lid and shot bolts from her fingertips, filling the clear tube with a loud-yellow color.<I personally like the "loud-yellow" description. Some may say that it can be distracting - the "huh?" factor but I think if it is done right and infrequently this technique can help to set the "otherworldly" mood.> Her stiff tongue stuck out the corner of her mouth, her brows pinched, and her long ears slightly pulled back as if in deep concentration. <I can see your description in my mind as I read this. It's in the right direction. Perhaps the last part could have a better flow and it almost seems forced somehow.>

This has an interesting start. Keep working at it, I'm curious to see where it goes.


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MAP
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Hi Archetectus,

This opening doesn't really hook me, but I think that is just a matter of taste. I am not really into the idea that fairies or elves are responsible for the forces of nature. But others might love this idea. I can see this working for middle grade or young adult.

Anyway, here is my take on your opening.

quote:
On days she was supposed to fill lightning capsules, Skyla never knew if she would meet her quota. This sentence adds nothing. The next paragraph does a good enough job conveying that she struggles with this task. I also think it is a stronger begining.

If she had better control over her lightning powers, she would have been finished already. She often wondered if sucking so utterly had something to do with whoever her father was. this statement comes out of nowhere and is not followed up. It is jarring. I think this topic should be discussed later when it can be explained.
She sat upon a chair that her little brother carved from a log as she grabbed an empty glass canister from the pile to her left. There is a better way to convey this information. Make it part of action, for example: The little wood stool wobbled as she grabbed another glass canister. She had inadvertently sat on the shoddy stool her little brother had made. She had barely worked through half the pile. I think this needs more explaning. Is it getting late, time for bed, or is someone coming by to pick them up at any moment? Why is it a problem that she is only halfway done? You need to tell us why she can't just continue working. Mom's going to be upset, she thought.

She opened the special special is vague be more descriptive (explain what the lid looks like) or give us nothing at all lid and shot bolts from her fingertips, filling the clear tube with a loud-yellow color. Her stiff tongue stuck out the corner of her mouth, her brows pinched, and her long ears slightly pulled back as if in deep concentration. THis is a nice description but it should come before she fills the tube with lightening. The way it is written it doesn't make sense. Why would she be concentrating so hard once the jar is filled?


My overall interpretaion is that there is some elf girl doing some sort of homework, but I don't really have a sense of who she is or where she is. I am assuming she is in her house, but I have no idea what kind of house an elf would live in. Is she in a tree house, or a house in the clouds, or is she in a normal house in the suburbs? You don't have to convey everything in the first 13 lines, but you definitely have the space to add a few carefully chosen details to help us start building the picture.

I think what you have is the barebones of the setting and character. You might want to go back through and add a little depth. Choose a couple of elements that you want to emphasize and add some vivid descriptive details to help ground the reader and make it more interesting.


I hope this helps.

[This message has been edited by MAP (edited September 22, 2009).]


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Architectus
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Thanks Lou and MAP.

In the first sentence, I meant "lightning capacitors," so I changed it.

I'll see what I come up with on a re-write.

MAP- I forgot to say that the elves don't create the lightning. They only have the ability to form lightning by gathering the electrons in life or things around them. Lightning storms happen independently of the elves.

[This message has been edited by Architectus (edited September 22, 2009).]


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Andrew_McGown
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quote:

She often wondered if sucking so utterly had something to do with whoever her father was.

Was not sure about this line. I think I know what it means but can't imagine a 'lightning elf' using this kind of late-20th-centruy western (earth) slang.


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Architectus
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Thank you Andrew. You just missed me posting the new, and in my opinion, improved version.

I have another scene I am considering starting with instead, where other elves make fun of her ears while they are practicing to turn into lightning and zap through a tree, but Skyla can never get it right, and instead she slams into the tree. They all laugh.


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SavantIdiot
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Skyla blew a strand of white hair from her elfin face, stared at the pile of lightning capacitors, and rolled up her sleeves. She was determined to finish filling them all before her mom got back, but she had barely worked through half the pile **that was** (do we need these two words?) stacked against the inside wall of their cabin. While stretching, she caught a glimpse of her long, pointy ears in the old mirror above the stone fireplace.

She flicked them. **just me; I would add a mood or attitude her. 'with irritation' or something which is like her) Why wouldn't she mature already, so they would fold back like everyone else's? Instead, her ears stuck straight out of her head like a freak. **okay, if immature elves have ears which stick straight out, she wouldn't look like a freak but like a kid. yes? Unless there are freaks whose ears never fold back?**

After snatching another clear canister, she plopped down on a chair that her little brother carved from a log **I don't like something about this qualifying phrase. not sure what, though.** Skyla pressed her fingers into the jell-like lid, ready to fill the tube. Her

I would keep reading, I like this genre and I am always looking for things for kids 12 and up. Which I have to read first, of course. It 'feels like a YA book' so I am guessing you'll keep it low word count? I don't know what that is but maybe 50K? Keep it up, it looks good!


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MrsBrown
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Agreed. "freak" is human slang.

quote:
she plopped down on a chair that her little brother carved from a log

This jumped out at me. I don't care about the little brother just from this mention of him, and I don't care how the chair was made. It seems extraneous.

Seems off that she rolls up her sleeves when the job is half-done; that phrase makes me think she's just getting started.

Otherwise I like your rewrite!

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited September 23, 2009).]


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Architectus
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Thanks Savantidiot and MrsBrown

Savant, I debated taking out "that was." I removed it, replaced it, removed it . . . I think it reads smoother with it, so I finally decided to leave it. Typically, I would avoid weak phrases like "that was." I even use Master Edit Software to find such weak phrases, among other things.
And yes, she looks like all younger elves, however, from her point of view, being a late bloomer, makes her feel like a freak.
MrsBrown.
I've decided to give the novel an urban feel, especially considering this planet has technology like moving pictures (TV), radio, and such. That's why I use words like freak, lame, stupid, etc.

It's popular to write fantasy this way right now, especially for YA novels.

Wow, look at me ramble, ha. Sorry. I really thank you all for your tips.


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Architectus
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Sorry, forgot to mention. I originally wrote that she re-rolled up her sleeves. I should probably add that.

[This message has been edited by Architectus (edited September 24, 2009).]


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MAP
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The new version is much better. Good job!!!

I agree with what the others have said. The only thing I have to add is having a character look in the mirror to describe herself is considered cliche. Maybe you could find a better way to bring attention to her ears.

Other than that I think it is a good start.


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