Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November Secret Agent #40

TITLE: Dreamscaper: Illusionary Mortality
GENRE: YA

Swirling black and charcoal clouds gathered around the ceiling, turning the bright room dark. A thick electrically charged mist pulled from around the room, swarming around him like angry locus to the fields. The wind blew his hair back and the red light building between his hands illuminated each of his features, making them appear to be cut from demonic stone. "You will all bow before me. Grovel at my feet and worship me like the god that I am! Bow before me and I will smite thy enemies and they will lick the dust from my feet. Bask in my greatness and glory, fear my wrath and cower from my very breath. You are nothing more than dirt under my nails-"

"And lint in your g****** bellybutton," I made a face at him and he glared at me. "Sit down already before someone catches your hair on fire, dumb a**." The class nodded their agreement.

"Oh come on," Kyron whined, the charcoal clouds dissipating, the bright overhead lights illuminating the room once again, his onyx hair falling around his face and shoulders. "Come on yourself...wait, don't, ew, never mind," I groaned, covering my rapidly reddening face with my hands. "Tell me again how we are related?"

"That is the million dollar question, wight," he smiled wide, his short fangs reflecting the overhead lights and the rest of the class roared with laughter. "A**hole," I mumbled under my breath, sulking down into my chair.

13 comments:

Stephanie said...

Hello! My biggest problem with this opening is that it is confusing. The opening language is very flowery, as is the dialogue. Then the cut to more colloquial, and the sudden introduction of a classroom setting. I'm not sure about the back and forth between the two characters, either. I'm just not getting a picture of what is actually happening!

Karen Denise said...

I was very confused also. I felt the opening description went on for a bit longer than needed and while I wasn't too thrown to discover they were in a classroom, I didn't understand what was actually happening in the classroom. The dialogue seemed off to me, a bit choppy. Maybe this smoothes out later into the story, but for the beginning, you want it to be as clear and smooth as possible.

Ammy Belle said...

I loved this! I loved the voice and I didn't' have the confusion of the previous two commentators. I liked the way it flowed, and I think it will do well as a full sized piece.

Thanks!

Barbara said...

I liked the swirling clouds up at the ceiling, but it might work better if you started with the person causing it so we know immediately where it is coming from.

And then it turns out that the person causing it isn't the MC. The MC is introduced last, which adds to the confusion of the piece.

And in the end, we still don't know who the MC is or anything about her, or even if it is a her. And we don't know what her problem is, except perhaps it could be her cousin, but then we should know why he's a problem. You haven't established anything here.

sbjames said...

Sorry- another confused. I didn't understand what was happening with the "wait, don't, ew, never mind-" after the onyx hair was falling around the shoulders- what was ew? I was wondering if the onyx haired person had bad dandruff. But its the MC who is blushing?

And tell me again how we are related sounded odd? He doesn't know? Is it somehow embarressing yet he asks in front of a class full of people.

Lia Mack said...

I really like this. I think the format either didn't come through correctly or needs to be corrected. A little too heavy on the obscenities for an opener. Other than that, I like it.

HOOKED! and that rarely happens here ;)

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

At first I thought this was going to be another HP spinoff. I understand the overly dramatic first paragraph (which could have been broken up just a bit)is meant to contrast with the ordinary classroom scene.

I believe the dialogue in the third paragraph belongs to two different people. Should be separated.

There's potential in here, but needs a little cleaning up.

rhea said...

I thought the MC caused the dark clouds. I think this can be corrected by using "my classmate" instead of "him." This way, we know the MC is watching and that they're in a classroom.

I'm also confused at what's happening and why.

Angela Robbins said...

this is cute how the boy/guy is casting spell like some big bad a$$, and we find out he's just blowing smoke. (oh, bad pun...)

i think if the order of this was redone, with the description placed within the dialogue of the boy, perhaps, it would be a little less confusing. and i'd consider breaking that all up with some white space.

to me this read too long:

"Oh come on," Kyron whined, the charcoal clouds dissipating, the bright overhead lights illuminating the room once again, his onyx hair falling around his face and shoulders.

i'd be tempted to change it to:

"Oh come on," Kyron whined. His onyx hair fell around his face and shoulders.

The charcoal clouds dissipated. The bright overhead lights illuminated the room once again.

or something like that.

Bonnie said...

I was also confused until the middle of the first paragraph. The first time you say "him," why do you not give Kyron's name? It was jarring to be focused on the clouds and suddenly there's a "him" in the middle of the magic, which completely changed the picture I had in my head.

Then the main character speaks, and I had to adjust my mental picture again, to add a second person to the room.

Then the main character says "...before someone catches your hair on fire..." and the class nods their agreement, and I had to adjust my mental picture yet again, as I had no idea we were in a classroom.

Also, what is demonic stone?

I like the main character's irreverence, but you need to introduce him immediately and set the scene right up front so that I don't have to stop reading and edit my mental image every other sentence.

spirecorporation said...

Yeah, the opening paragraph was a little long if you are going to do a jump like that.

Like everyone, the description and dialogue is fun and nice.

My biggest issue (take it for what it's worth) is that you use "illuminate" twice in your first 250 words. It stood out to me, maybe agents too. Show them your vocabulary!

Bron said...

I agree that the opening paragraph goes on a little long, considering it's basically the set-up for a joke. And your MC isn't introduced for a while... maybe you could start with 'I watched as swirling black, etc".

I do get why the MC is blushing, and I think a YA audience probably would too. But I don't get why everyone is laughing at the end. Also, why does she say, "Sit down already before someone catches your hair on fire?" It seems to me it should either read "Sit down before you catch your hair on fire" or "Sit down before someone catches their hair on fire".

This has a lot of promise, but I think it needs just a little more tweaking to make it a smoother read.

Secret Agent said...

RE: the title—Needs to be changed. Too much.

With the text—

Swirling black and charcoal clouds gathered around the ceiling, turning the bright room dark. A thick electrically charged mist pulled from around the room, swarming around him like angry locus to the fields. The wind blew his hair back and the red light building between his hands illuminated each of his features, making them appear to be cut from demonic stone.

You have a lot of adverbs here (swirling, turning, swarming, building, making), so try to restructure your sentences to get rid of as many of them as you can; they make sentences awkward. Some the verb choices are pretty weak, too—“turning” and “making” particularly.

Other than that, I like your descriptions individually, but I feel as if they are disjointed here—you move from the clouds to the mist to the hands and I’m not sure what I should be paying attention to.

"You will all bow before me. Grovel at my feet and worship me like the god that I am! Bow before me and I will smite thy enemies and they will lick the dust from my feet. Bask in my greatness and glory, fear my wrath and cower from my very breath. You are nothing more than dirt under my nails-"

I need to know who’s speaking and I think you should break this up a little bit to tell us how this is being said. You need to make the command (and potentially evil?) of the character come through on the page. Someone could read this and find it silly because we’re not being grounded in the emotion behind the words spoken.

"And lint in your g****** bellybutton," I made a face at him and he glared at me. "Sit down already before someone catches your hair on fire, dumb a**." The class nodded their agreement.

"Oh come on," Kyron whined, the charcoal clouds dissipating, the bright overhead lights illuminating the room once again, his onyx hair falling around his face and shoulders. "Come on yourself...wait, don't, ew, never mind," I groaned, covering my rapidly reddening face with my hands. "Tell me again how we are related?"

"That is the million dollar question, wight," he smiled wide, his short fangs reflecting the overhead lights and the rest of the class roared with laughter. "A**hole," I mumbled under my breath, sulking down into my chair.


To be honest, by the end of the excerpt I’m confused—I’m not 100% what’s going on here. You set up something that is different/fantastical and don’t follow through with it.

I don’t have a sense of the gender or age of the character (age can wait; gender should be a bit clearer, at least on the first page). I was also jolted that you didn’t introduce your main character (with the use of “I”) until halfway through; the POV needs to be clearer at the beginning.

The same feedback from the first paragraph also applies here—watch the adverbs, show versus tell, etc. I wish you were giving me a few small details, woven in here and there, about the setting, and the attitude of these characters—what’s going on? (Not quite sure, again.)

Also, this isn’t literary YA. It does come off as YA, considering both the casual use of language and the reference to the classroom, but it’s not literary. You should also denote the subgenre, which I would guess is some kind of fantasy or paranormal . . .

I’m not hooked. I would need to see a bit of a cleaner excerpt along with more details that helped me understand what was going on; I don’t need to know the motivation off the bat, for example, but I do need to be able to follow what’s going on—otherwise I’ll stop reading, as will most readers.