This is topic Hunting the Darkness -- First 13 + summary in forum Fragments and Feedback for Books at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by zewology (Member # 9580) on :
So this is "Hunting the Darkness' (very much a working title).

It's YA, what I would call contemporary fantasy (it's not exactly urban ...). I only have about 8000 words so far, but it's been my main focus as of late.

Here are the first thirteen lines:

There was a light flickering up ahead, dancing and faltering in a random, eerie cadence. The glow cast moving shadows on the dark street as it sputtered along. A pair of birds startled and took off from a nearby phone pole in a flutter of wings; a stray cat arched its back and hissed at an unknown enemy before hurriedly rounding the corner into an alley.

A chill ran down Jo’s spine and her steps sped involuntarily. It was a dark night, just a sliver of the moon hanging low on the horizon, and with the air hot and hazy she felt like she was wading through a void. Everything was too quiet; there were no cars, no footsteps, no leaves rustling in the stillness. Jo didn’t normally think of herself as a superstitious person, but there was something about this night ...

So that is the first thirteen (I did cut off part of the sentence, but it was long enough that I didn't want to exclude it entirely).

I also have a summary, though it's very rough. I actually just wrote it in ten minutes:

Josephine is looking for a little bit of magic: love with her clueless friend Peter, a path she is destined to travel, a deeper purpose in life -- any of it would do. What she finds instead, what she never could have imagined, is the real deal, tangible magic which bends the very fabric of reality and alters Jo's fate irrevocably.

As her old life begins to unravel, Jo is pulled into a world of the supernatural. With the help of her brother Mattie and Declan, a secretive new classmate, she struggles to reclaim a gift that is hers alone and, in doing so, once again find the hope she abandoned when her mother died.

But delving into this new world may prove far more dangerous than she could possibly imagine. When Jo realizes that Declan's shadowed past may hold answers to her present and future, she must let go of persistent fears and put faith in her ability to save herself and those she has come to love. If only she knew what it was she was fighting ...

Feedback on either the first seventeen or the summary, or both, would be greatly appreciated.


Posted by Devnal (Member # 6724) on :
I only read the first 13 lines;

I don't know what the point of the first paragraph is beyond trying to set the mood, but I found it confusing. I tried to latch onto what the point of the light was. Was she walking towards it, was she holding it? by the start of the second paragraph it seemed irrelevant.

what sent the chill down Jo's spine? I felt that the chill, and then hot and hazy night, subtly contradicted each other.

I felt the descript was way too much. For example - "There was a light flickering up ahead, dancing and faltering in a random, eerie cadence." could simple be " a light flickered up ahead." (though I don't think this addresses the problem of the irrelevance of the light in the first place.)

I would prefer to see more of the story instead of detailed and somewhat drawn out descriptions.


Posted by A Yeatts (Member # 9500) on :
I like your descriptions and imagery. I enjoyed the way your writing flows. You definitely have a firm technical grasp on how to write a lovely sentence. The summary was quite intriguing. I would definitely pick up the book and give it a try based on that alone.

As far as the first 13 goes, I'm having a hard time figuring out if the light itself is important. It seemed like a disembodied spirit or manifestation of some important power at first. By having the animals react to it, I wanted it to have some kind of primal force that could intimidate them like that. But when I got to the second paragraph, I felt very disconnected. If there really is a ball of light hovering down the road, Jo's reaction to it seems incredibly understated. Is this a normal occurrence in her world? Or is the light not important? If not, why does the light take up the entire first paragraph?

More than happy to read on if you need volunteers. As I said, I found your summary and your style very interesting and readable. Good luck with it!

Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
Not bad, I got what was going on but my first impression of the first two sentences were Too Busy. Some novels do open with a "busy" scene that describes -- I guess nature; wind, clouds blowing,. leaves drifting, ect.-- so that might be okay, but in this case I'm not sure. To me it didn't feel right; too long maybe or try something like "A cat hissed at nothing".

Over all I think it gets the point across, it's just the first couple of sentences that I think need work... try tightening them. Part of my problem is that it sounds cliche-ish also. To me that is.

I used the words to me and I think on purpose see if anyone agrees or disagrees with me. I'm no expert I'm just giving my impressions on it.


Posted by KathiS (Member # 9542) on :
Sara, sounds like an interesting piece based on your summary.

On the 13: I have to agree with others who have mentioned the light and what the relevance of it is. I don't mind the descriptive beginning, but if you're starting with that light then it better have some relevance or importance to the story. Was the chill running down Jo's spine because of the light? If so, why? If it has no importance you might want to leave it out.

Overall, writing and pacing are good. It caught me and led me in and I'd keep reading.


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
Oh I forgot to say I like the title.

If the blurb indicated the book lived up to the title I would think very hard about buying it. even though it would have to wait in line to be read, I have a stack of books and am busy writing. Well, sometimes writing these last few days.

Posted by mythique890 (Member # 8586) on :
I don't mind the amount of description. I would assume from this first 13 that she's following the light and maybe you'll come back to it. If not, you might want to clip it, but if so, I think it's fine.

The only real issue I have is that your first words are in passive voice. You might consider changing it to "The light flickered...

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