working title. Unfinished work (likely around 5k) of YA fantasy/magic, just wondering if I can get away with what I'm playing with at the beginning (omni POV/authorial asides until I settle into the main POV's head in a few more lines.) ===
Sofia wasnít magical without her piano. She didnít know this, or really anything about being magical until sometime around her fourteenth birthday. That was the year that great aunt Mildred gave her the Bechstein grand. It was a glorious piano and Sofia itched to play it as soon as the movers finished tightening the bolts on the legs.
Great aunt Mildred stood in the front hall, her arms folded across her barrel chest, her wispy gray fluff barely tamed under an old-fashioned pillbox hat and ice blue eyes that seemed to see right through people. She nodded the movers out the door as Sofia stepped closer to the piano.
Sofia didnít notice the grim set to Mildredís mouth or the way she twisted the individual pearls in her necklace at the time.
The POV reads ok to me, for what it's worth.
The opening paragraph feels a little bit stop-and-start to me. perhaps change to:
quote:Sofia didnít know anything about being magical until her fourteenth birthday, when great aunt Mildred gave her the Bechstein grand. It was a glorious piano, and Sofia itched to play it as soon as the movers finished tightening the bolts on the legs.
Need a comma after "pillbox hat" (otherwise it reads like her hair is under her eyes.)
I like the overall beginning. There are a few grammar corrections but I'll leave that to the experts here since I can barely write my own stories without problem.
Their is one thing I would point out, and that's the word 'Magical.' The ways It's used in both your sentence and NTTT's version is a little off setting.
I think this is because the term 'Magical' similar to 'Enchanting' or 'Mesmerizing' are very common terms to describe excellent skill in music. The mind naturally goes first to she's a good piano player rather than she can produce spells through here ability upon an instrument. So the sentence requires then further explanation, rather than standing alone as a hook.
NTTT's suggestion for the first sentences is excellent. Makes the flow much better.
The line about Mildred (describing her hair, eyes, etc.) is much too long and I had to read it twice to get it. I'd suggest cutting the bit about the eyes or inserting it elsewhere.
Also, the last phrase "at the time" gave me pause, as it removed the event of the piano's arrival into such a past point as to make it uninteresting. It would help to keep the reader as present as possible in the immediate scene, without distancing the attention with such a phrase.
That's all! Above comments are all well said; I would emphasize the same things. Otherwise, I am intrigued by a heroine whose magic is tied in with her piano. Sounds like it could go good places.
The first sentence is an attention-getter, once you clarify whether the magic is actually magic or just the quality of her music.
I'm with andersonmcdonald. I like it as it is. In the nit category:
I've don't know if I've heard 'magical' applied to a person; usually it's used as an attribute of an object or an experience. Your usage is probably fine; I've haven't read much fantasy.
You might consider some Jake-ish cutting: ...sometime around her fourteenth birthday. That was the year that.... ->
...around her fourteenth birthday, when....
Regarding your POV question. It seems fine, but is there any issue with what follows if Sofia does notice Mildred's expression and mannerism? Sofia wouldn't have to understand what's behind it, and that change would accelerate your story into the POV you want.
The first few sentences are clearly a product of your voice and style and I would also leave them. I agree the word magical seems just not quite right, but I don't have an alternate. Overall, great start. Perhaps with a revision to the lengthy sentence describing aunt mildred and you'll be set.
[This message has been edited by Wordcaster (edited January 07, 2011).]
Thanks so much, everyone. The choppy style is very much part of my voice, so I think I need to find ways to improve the flow while retaining my style/voice.
Probably if I could just hone in on the RIGHT term other than Magical I might have that solved (and tighten up some sentences, thanks for the specifics, very helpful.)
My idea is that it's the term for Magic use in their world, I don't want to use wizards/warlocks/magicians/etc. I was going to use just the general Magical (but if so I think I need to treat it as a proper noun) - however, I'm not in love with that. Maybe I need to come up with my own term, like the author of Savvy (in that book the magic is called "Savvy", lol.)
In the world of this story, different people's magic manifests differently, but they all need an object with which to do their magic. Mildred's is her pearl necklace, and the pearl she turns and the direction it turns controls it. For Sofia, as you can tell, the piano is the object, the music she plays on it controls her magic. (she develops a specific rapport with the piano, whose name is Drake, lol.)
I've got to tinker with some terms and find something that suits. I think I'll capitalize Magical in the meantime. Anyone have any thoughts for me on that?
Thanks again so much, really appreciate the feedback.
I think your idea for your magical system is wonderful! I certainly want to hear how it turns out! If there is another like it I haven't come across it, so kudos to you!
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I've even seen words like "Skill" and "Wit" used as words for magics (these from Robin Hobb's books). She used them as nouns, verbs and adjectives - it sounded incredibly natural! A Skilled person has the Skill and with it, they are Skilling, for example. Or a Witted one has the Wit, and so on.
Be creative. Try something crazy. Surprise yourself. That's what makes this whole writing thing so fun and addictive, eh?
Thanks everyone, those are excellent ideas. I like Talent/Gift/Skill (I have read the Hobb books and remember that now that you mention it, very natural!)
I plan for the fact that Sofia's magical object is an antique grand piano to provide some comic relief (she spends a lot of her time trying to miniaturize it, for example.) Should be a fun story to write, if I could just put some more butt-in-chair hours! ;D