Wednesday, February 25, 2009

19 Drop the Needle: Chapter Endings

TITLE: ELEMENTAL HUNGER
GENRE: YA fantasy

This is the end of the first chapter. Gabby has a power no one knows about—until the North barracks go up in flames.



"You're not," Taylor said, kicking some dirt in my newly-dug grave. "Manifest, Killpatrick."

The flames rose higher, engulfing my stomach in liquid lava. No matter how hard I tried to push it back, the element burned upward. Inside my jeans pockets, my fingertips smoldered.

"The Northern barracks are stone," I said, desperation lining my voice. "I couldn't have lit them on fire, even if I was Elemental. Which I'm not."

"Yeah," Liz piped up. "And only boys are Firemakers. Gabby didn't do anything."

I groaned. Liz meant well, but calling attention to the fact that I was a genetic abnormality wasn't the best move.

"Manifest," Jarvis commanded.

My power jumped, ready to explode out. I squeezed my eyes shut and bit down hard. But the Elemental power I possessed had been summoned—repeatedly. The fire roared in my head and I pulled my hands out of my pockets so I wouldn't burn my only pair of jeans.

I raised my hands high, the flames shooting straight up into the night sky. Through the waves of heat, the students around me screamed.

The rush ended, and I brought my smoking hands down slowly, fists clenched. Jarvis grabbed both of them on the way down. Only another Firemaker could touch me so soon after an Elemental release.

I looked straight into his shocked eyes as I opened my palms, revealing a ball of burning embers nestled in each one.

Jarvis's black eyes glinted in the orange glow of my Element. "Guilty," he repeated.

22 comments:

judall said...

I enjoyed this. The thing that threw me off was the first line, but it likely made sense with what came before.

Also the engulfing my stomach in liquid lava - I thought flames were actually showing, then she denies it so I assume the feeling of it was happening. It threw me a bit - but maybe just me.

I don't think you need to say high when you say "I raised my hands high, the flames shooting..." It threw off the rhythm for me a bit, perhaps because it rhymed with sky. Intentional?

I would definitely read on.

Lianne said...

This is strong. Although we've jumped right in with a lot of story-specific terms, it stays clear and lively, without getting bogged down in Important Fantasy Words Capitalization Syndrome. And the tone and characters come through as lively and modern without seeming forced.

I second Judall's comment on "liquid lava," but if you feel the fact that the fire isn't visible would be clear to someone who's read more, that should be okay.

My one hesitation is "'Guilty,' he repeated." This is the first time he's said it.

In any case, great work.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This is great stuff. I want to read more. Kinda reminds me of ENNA BURNING by Shannon Hale. Kinda.

It's well really written.

I agree with the others about the liquid lava.

Great job. Good luck with it.

Heather said...

Really well written. And I love the way you describe how the power makes her feel... that really connects me to the idea of it. Great concept and I would completely read more.

Jarucia said...

Great imagery with the flaming hands and the egging of other kids, presumably in the know.

I was a tad thrown by 'students around me screamed.'

Of course, this could be do to lack of full context, but if others are ordering her to manifest, then there doesn't seem to be concern about what she's likely to do next.

Anywho, well written and interesting.

Judy said...

I also liked this. Like previous comments the flames rose higher, confused me for a second, because I thought she was standing in flames.
Great imagery.

wealhtheow said...

Oh, for just one more sentence at the beginning – I would really like to know who Jarvis and Taylor are, and why everyone is standing around (or possibly in) a newly dug grave …

I really like this overall, and would definitely read on to see what happens next. The narrator’s feeling of desperation really comes through, and the fire imagery is great as well. Grammar, punctuation, etc., all good, as far as I can see.

A couple of nitpicky and/or technical things: “I raised my hands high, the flames shooting straight up into the night sky” – I’m trying to picture the action here, and getting a bit confused. I can imagine her standing with both arms held straight up in the air and flames shooting from her hands; what’s giving me pause is wondering what the flames were doing while she was in the process of raising her arms, if you see what I mean. “Only another Firemaker could touch me so soon after an Elemental release.” – maybe better “Only another Firemaker could have touched me …”.

Bethlene said...

Intriguing. Good place to end a chapter, when we want and explanation from Jarvis.

slhastings said...

I too, agree with the others about liquid lava. For me, that didn't work. But I liked everything else.

I loved this line: The fire roared in my head and I pulled my hands out of my pockets so I wouldn't burn my only pair of jeans. Shows humor.

I'm intrigued. I'd read on.

H. L. Dyer said...

Excellent. Worked for me. Yay, you!

Courtney said...

Loved this!! The setting was a little confusing, but hey--it's the end of a chapter.

This sounds sweet. Good luck with it!

quettalinde said...

Like most of the other commenters, I also had a bit of trouble with the flames in her stomach. I thought they were there, and visible, and then they weren't. I liked the imagery and feeling in that portion, though. Very vivid.

I like how Gabby's scared and desperate and in denial. It makes me want to know what's come before, that would make her afraid to be an Elemental.

I assume that you've got a good explanation for why Gabby is a Firemaker when all the other Firemakers are male? Because if it's a "destiny" thing or because she's "special", a lot of readers would probably be turned off.

I'm drawn to strong, funny female characters, so I like Gabby.

I raised my hands high, the flames shooting straight up into the night sky. Through the waves of heat, the students around me screamed.

In both those sentences, the clause and phrase don't match up completely. She's raising her hands, and yet there are flames? The students screamed through the heat? I know what you mean, and it makes sense, but grammatically it might need a little work.

I definitely want to read more, because the story's interesting and the writing's engaging, but I'm not sure the ending is as strong as it could be. What if the last line was "Only another Firemaker could touch me so soon after an Elemental release"?

Windy said...

The first line was a little out of context, but once I read it through it made sense. I really liked the descriptions, vivid and clear.

I'm not sure about the last line though. It maybe fits better with the content that came prior to piece submitted? Overall, I'm definitely curious to see what comes next.

Kat said...

I agree with some other comments, the first line threw me off a bit, but I'm sure with the rest of the chapter it makes perfect sense.

Also, I was a bit confused about Taylor commanding her to 'manifest', then the 'manifest' coming from Jarvis. Are they both interrogating her? Who's in charge here?

Overall I really liked this though, I would definitely read on.

Megs said...

Yes, definitely. Nice job!

Merc said...

Awesome, I want to read the whole thing! :D Nice job!

~Merc

Sandra said...

A minor nitpick--if people are going to refer to Gabby by her last name (as Taylor does), then I would have liked her full name in the setup.

Is the grave literal? I'd probably know if I had the full context.

The flames rose higher, engulfing my stomach in liquid lava.--As other people have said, it's hard to tell if the flames are literal or figurative here.

Liz meant well, but calling attention to the fact that I was a genetic abnormality wasn't the best move.--This intrigues me.

I'm a bit confused about the "Manifest" command. Is it directed at Gabby or her magic? She doesn't seem to have enough control over her magic to make it manifest on command.

The fire roared in my head[,] and I pulled my hands out of my pockets so I wouldn't burn my only pair of jeans.--Added comma.

Overall, I thought this was strong writing. I felt connected with the character, and I like the premise/setting. I'd read on. Kudos to you!

Lori said...

I'm a bit on the fence. I don't understand some of the lines, like the one about the grave. But, that might all be explained in the earlier section. There's also some Telling vs. Showing things going on here.

Lisa and Laura said...

The first line threw me off too, but I think that's probably pretty normal considering you are posting the last 250 words of a chapter.

I really enjoyed this and didn't think there were any showing versus telling issues.

One thing that you might consider is taking out the dialogue tag on the last line. I think ending the chapter with the word "Guilty." would be more compelling.

Really enjoyed this! Would definitely want to read more!

Anonymous said...

Whoa - that was powerful. I'm stunned. This chapter end knocks the socks off of all the others.

Sarah Jensen said...

Holy freakin' cow, Elana! This is great! I agree that the lava sounds like she's really burning up, but it doesn't matter two seconds later.
Um, yeah, finish this!!!!!
Can't wait to have it on my bookshelf! Next to Vi and Jag, and Annie and Jon, of course. :)

Authoress said...

The pacing is excellent. I find that I want to read what came BEFORE. Then I think my desire to read on will be quite strong!

Tiny details: Where, exactly, do the flames shoot out from? I pictured them shooting from her fingertips, but then we learn that her fists are clenched. When she opens her palms (do we really "open our palms'? or perhaps "uncurl our fingers"...?), there are balls of burning embers inside.

I guess I want to understand how this elemental thing worked. But I'm thinking I would understand that much better if I'd read from the beginning.

Gabby's voice rings through, and I care about her.

I wonder if dropping the "he repeated" tag would further strengthen the ending here? We already know he's repeating it because we heard him say it earlier.

Try:

Jarvis's black eyes glinted in the orange glow of my Element. "Guilty."

Or even:

Jarvis's black eyes glinted in the orange glow of my Element.

"Guilty."

Good work!