Wednesday, January 14, 2009


GENRE: Children's Fantasy

Dragons are actually more curious than cats. They were proving it now, the hour before dawn in the land called Drualtys. In the darkest corners of the Dreugan caves, the dragons were pretending to sleep. Though they were very good pretenders, they could still not control the occasional twitch of excitement that tickled their ears as they eavesdropped on a very important conversation.

Eight clusters of fire the size of soccer balls were whizzing silently under the cavern's ceiling, giving light to an otherwise forebodingly black room.

"There are no words," said the man with eyes the color of fresh dew-dressed violets. His name was Benjamin Brown, and anxiety vibrated from his thin frame as he paced the red cave's floor. "How is a dad supposed to react in a situation like this?" He stopped and, with fear cold as ice flooding through his veins, snapped the shiny, black arrow he held in two. That same arrow hours before had pierced through his daughter's crib, missing the slumbering infant by mere inches. The poison that the arrow had been drenched in seeped through his leather gloves, sizzling quietly and leaving oozing green marks. Disgusted, Ben threw the arrow against the cave's wall, and the pieces rattled where they fell. Perched nearby, the phoenix they called Phyress eyed the broken arrow with ebony eyes and shook her majestic ruby and plum feathers as if in disapproval.


  1. Overall it was well-written, with great imagery. However I think the intro would have grabbed me more if you started with the second paragaph instead of the first. Stating a fact as your first sentence puts me off, personally. Also, your third paragaph was a tad confusing- too much was going on in there and it was hard for me to digest. I'd split it up into two or three and I think you'll be fine.

    Good luck!

  2. You write well, but I think you need to make sure your narrative voice is consistent. The opening para sounds like you are writing for very young children, a nice soothing nursery story, with tickly ears and make-believe.
    After that you have long sentences, a lot of fear and anxiety flying arond the cavern, and a baby almost getting killed by a poison oozing arrow.
    I'd pick one style or the other, and stick with it.

  3. It seems a bit cliche to me, but I do have to agree with the first comment. It is well-written.

    Overall though, I'm not hooked enough to want to read more.

  4. I was really intrigued with the title and the first paragraph. The imagery was great. But once you got into the meat of the story, I didn’t know what the dragons had to do with it. Why not just start with Ben? I loved the descriptions though… the floating orbs were wonderful.

  5. I did feel the opening and some of the subject matter felt a bit overdone. Phrases like with fear cold as ice flooding through his veins can come off feeling cliche. Also, starting off observing an adult in a Children's fantasy seems off, making me wonder if this is a prologue?

    I also wondered about the target age group--the language seems quite high for a Children's fantasy. Some of it gets a bit purple because you use so much strong language together, like here:

    The poison that the arrow had been drenched in seeped through his leather gloves, sizzling quietly and leaving oozing green marks. I think if you pare down a bit of the descriptors you'll be fine.

    Thanks for sharing & good luck!

  6. Well written, definitely. And I am intrigued. I love the bit on dragons.

    You say this is children's fantasy, but some of the language and word use is, IMHO, too complicated for the young reader. Or maybe it's a bit too flowery.

    I like to challenge young readers with my own writing, but I keep in mind that my flowery prose will most likely be lost on them when they're looking for adventure.

  7. I'm a little confused as to my footing here. Dragons in a cave makes me think Medieval times, but then you mention soccer balls and refer to the father as, "dad," so it's modern, yes? But then there's an arrow with poison, and I'm back in the past. And what kind of arrow shatters when thrown against the wall?

    There's some compelling stuff here, I'd just like a few more clues as to where I am.

    Good luck!

  8. We definitely need to see more. I do have to disagree with most everyone els though. On fantasy it usually takes time to understand everything. As far as too complicated for the age group it is NOT. I have kids that age and they would love it.

  9. I liked it and think I would read on. I agree that the second paragraph should be switched with the second and you need to do a little less telling.

  10. I love the first sentence, but I gotta be honest--there's a lot of adjectives here. They started distracting me. It feels a bit overwritten to me.

  11. Cute, but I squinted at a couple tense problems 'were proving it now'. Also, it isn't clear if the Benjamin (tries not to think of the 'Curious Case of Benjamin Button') is hanging out in the caves right with the dinosaurs, or what's the deal with the fireballs...

    Not entirely hooked.

  12. Laughs - dinosaurs!

    I meant dragons.

    I have dinosaurs on the mind. Clearly. O_o

  13. Pretty good. There's a few interesting ideas. But I can't tell what the story is about so I'm not quite hooked. The title has nothing to do with the Dragons in the first paragraph. then it moves on to people. the poison arrow meant for the baby intrigued me the most.

  14. Not much to say. Everyone has good advice. The dragons will draw any kid in, but the first paragraph was too passive for me for an opener. And I think that the dragons are in the back of Ben's cave.

    Third paragraph is very long. A lot of stuff going on. Maybe it needs to be slowed down a little so we can take it all in.

  15. The first paragraph doesn't fit with the others. If you're trying to set a dark atmosphere, you should cut the first paragraph, or include it elsewhere.

    Otherwise, the writing is descriptive. I'd read more.

  16. An interesting premise underlying this, but it's not quite popping out at me yet. And dude, try to avoid the overwritten bits: 'fear cold as ice' and 'fresh dew-dressed violets'. I'm a firm believer that sometimes less is more - you can create impact by actually writing quite sparely and keeping it simple. This is a little cluttered - a lot to take on board in a short space of time.

  17. I'm on the fence here. Loved the first graph, thou it was passive. Loved the title.
    A bit telling in places, and I agree with the comments about the third graph. Way too long.
    And whose daughter was the baby? It confused me whether Ben is a child or an adult.
    I do like the idea, and would keep reading though.
    clean it up a bit, and I can't wait to see it again.

    Authoress, anyway we could have a day in a week or two to post our edits? I sure would love to see what everyone did with theirs. Just a thought.

  18. Doesn’t hook me…
    Because for a children’s fantasy, it has an awfully high reading level. The part about the dragons being more curious than cats was great. The arrow bit seemed a bit off. If it was tipped with poison and had been there an hour, I hardly think Ben would still be holding it. The language and style of this seems more for adults or teens than children.

  19. I just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to comment on the first 250 words of my story. All your feedback has been exceptionally helpful. I'm going to do my best to improve my work and hook you guys!

    I struggled a lot when deciding if this story was "upper children's" or "middle-grade/possibly lower middle-grade." The battle with the manuscript continues!



  20. I'm not hooked.

    I like the ideas you have about dragon behavior.

    But if your story is for kids, then the MC has to be a kid. I'm guessing--could be extremely wrong--that the baby is special. Maybe focus on her more. Start with a "snapshot" of her looking up at her dad, who's holding the poison arrow that narrowly missed her, etc.

    Sometimes it's tempting to overdescribe things. As a general rule, I try to find the one, perfect noun so I don't need any modifiers. If I need a modifier, I try to pick the one, perfect adjective instead of three nearly perfect ones. It's hard!

    I think your story is going to be interesting, after a little tightening.

  21. Sorry, but I'm not hooked. There's no clear POV character and bits of world building, like the poison arrow and the phoenix, just seem to pop in from no where just to force genre identification.

  22. I found it hard to follow the point of view here. First dragons, then a man with violet eyes, then Ben. (Oh, I see now that Ben is Benjamin Brown--I missed that on the first pass)

    Still, it was hard to get traction on what perspective the story was being told.

    Lots of interesting elements of the story, though, and great imagery.

  23. This is interesting, but needs a little tightening.

    For instance: In a dark corner of the cage, the dragons pretended to sleep. Although they were great pretenders, they couldn't control their excitement when overhearing juicy news.

  24. Dragon grabbed me, I love dragons. The last paragraph confused me, sorry.

  25. You start with dragons, then jump to the father, his daughter and a phoenix.

    And would the father really leave the poisoned arrow for someone else to pick up?

    The voice is nice, but changes between the "Once upon a time" style to a more direct style.

    I'm not sure if I'd read further or not. Might peek.

  26. Some nice writing, but needs work on a voice that speaks to the target audience--MG.