Thursday, February 26, 2009

43 Drop the Needle: Chapter Endings

GENRE: YA Fantasy

Aryli has returned to her kingdom to find that her throne has been usurped. Having already failed miserably in her first attempt to reclaim it, she happens upon the deceitful usurper giving a speech in a crowded town square and decides to take another shot.

Every self-preservation instinct that I had was screaming at me to run and hide--to say, "Just kidding," to do anything but what I was doing, which was walking confidently toward the platform with my head held high. I saw Gabrien out of the corner of my eye as I passed through the crowd. He looked pale with panic and flush with anger all at once. 'Please, don't do anything me,' I thought at him and Miqqal and Hynton.

Whispers and excited murmurs ushered me to the platform, and I found myself ascending the steps before I even knew I had reached them. Close enough to see Arybin properly, I noticed (with a blossom of rage in the pit of my stomach) that she was wearing the crowns Paxia and Strios had given me.

"It's time to stop pretending, Arybin," I called in that not-mine, regal voice I'd used earlier that morning. I pulled my hood back and shook my newly auburn hair out, hoping that one or two people in the crowd had seen my mother before she died and would recognize me for who I was.

Undeterred, Arybin gave me a private, shark-like smile that bared all her pearly whites before turning to address the crowd--once again a picture of everything sublime.

Apparently, it was game on.


  1. Game on, indeed! I would be fascinated to read the beginning of this first person narrative. I loved the phrase "blossom of rage" but felt the "Just kidding," in the first paragraph a bit out of place.

  2. Since this is a fantasy novel, the more modern lines like "Just kidding" and "game on" felt kind of odd. It also makes her sound quite un-royal. I know you're probably just trying to make her sound young, but remember this is a different world. Avoid that Earth stuff.

    In the first paragraph, her thought should be moved to its own paragraph. I like the line itself - it shows she's a compassionate person who doesn't want to drag others down with her.

    Overall, I like this. I'm curious about how she lost her throne, and how she regains it.

  3. Okay, hi there...I know who you are and it was nice to read from another part of the book as it allows me to see some of that development in your MC's narrative voice.

    And I can see what you're saying about the maturation.

    I liked this better. Her edginess in thought shines through beautifully here without hindering the pace.

    I do think this is a better example of what you could do with the overall involvement of the narrative voice in

    Oh, and I thought this piece was generally well written and engaging :)

  4. I'd keep reading. I like the tension, Aryli's guts and concern for the others, and the blossom of rage.

    I had trouble visualising 'pale with panic and flush with anger all at once"--maybe "panic-pale except for the red spots on his cheekbones" or some other more specific description would help? And I wondered about the whispers and excited murmurs--are they excited about her, although they don't know who she is, or about Arybin?

  5. I liked it.

    I got a little lost at the part 'please don't do anything stupid, like me'. It took me a moment to realize who was thinking what to whom.

    I don't read a lot of this genre, so you can take or leave the following advice, but "game on" seems out of place in a fantasy kingdom.

    All in all, I really liked the story and would continue into the next chapter.

  6. I don't know if you wonderful comment-leavers are coming back to follow up (I probably won't on those excerpts I R&Red), but in case you do, or for those reading after this point...

    ~The "Just kidding" is a reference to the fact that Aryli just shouted, "You’re the impostor, you b*tch!" in order to provide a distraction for some misguided rebels.
    ~Aryli was sent away from Anjidia as a small child for her own protection when her mother (the ruler) was murdered. She was raised in "our world."
    ~The novel starts with Aryli returning to Anjidia and having no memory of it. If you'd like, you can read chapter one here.

    Thanks so much for reading and leaving comments! Keep 'em coming!

  7. Nice read, Samantha! My main suggestion (and perhaps you explained this in an earlier part) would be to have the names a little more different. Aryli and Arybin are so similar. Since your book's likely the first time anyone's heard these names, sharing the first syllable and 4 letters may make it a little confusing for people. Otherwise, a very nice post.

  8. I would read on. You've built good tension here.

    There's some basic writing "clean-up" that needs to happen to tighten this passage.

    For example:

    Every self-preservation instinct that I had was screaming at me to run and hide--to say, "Just kidding," to do anything but what I was doing, which was walking confidently toward the platform with my head held high.

    The above sentence rambles. You might want to break it up, or simply trim it down.


    Every self-preservation instinct I had was screaming at me to run, to hide, to say, "Just kidding." Instead, I walked confidently toward the platform, my head held high.

    He looked pale with panic and flush with anger all at once. 'Please, don't do anything me,' I thought at him and Miqqal and Hynton.

    Could she really see all that from the "corner of her eye"? And can a person really look pale and flush simultaneously? Just some thoughts.

    The second sentence is awkardly written. I'm assuming all these characters have the ability to "mind speak" with one another. The dialogue needs to start a new paragraph. Also, you don't mention that Miggal and Hynton are standing there, too. Perhaps you could mention that a little earlier as well.

    A potential re-write:

    I felt his panic, sensed the anger he shared with Miggal and Hynton, who stood nearby.

    'Please, don't do anything stupid - like me,' I thought at the three of them.

    I love the whole "usurped crown" concept. Good work, keep going!

  9. Interesting! This is a good moment – good choice to end the chapter on, protagonist and antagonist squaring off.

    You may want to rethink Arybin and Aryli: these are obviously going to be (two of) the main characters in this story, and giving them such similar names seems like a recipe for reader confusion. (Not only do they both begin with “Ary”, they both have the same vowel sound in the final syllable; and with the b in Arybin and the l in Aryli, the two names are even almost the same “shape”.) My guess is that in the world you’ve built for the story, everyone in the royal family has names beginning with the same prefix, or some similar naming system. Not so far-fetched, and not necessarily verboten … but start thinking now about how you’re going to prevent confusion. It’s good that one of them is the narrator, because that means her name will be mentioned less often.

    I see one structural problem. Though I’m sure exactly what Aryli is trying to accomplish by her actions in this scene, it’s obvious that she’s after a reaction from the assembled crowd – recognition, at least; maybe a demand that whoever’s in charge give her a hearing? – so as a reader I’m disappointed when we don’t find out how the crowd reacts, or if it does. She’s hoping someone in the crowd will recognize her; does anyone? Earlier on you’ve got excited whispers and murmurs as people push her up to the front; then what happens? Is the crowd shouting, cheering, muttering? Is everyone shocked into silence, or are they quietly apathetic, or just absorbed in their own concerns? I get that at the end the focus is on the interaction between the two women, but the crowd is still there and the narrator’s been playing to it, so we need to keep seeing/hearing/feeling its presence somehow.

    Also, a really little thing but it tripped me up: of course someone can be afraid and angry at the same time, but can someone really be pale and flushed (not “flush”, btw) at the same time? I don’t see how. Maybe while he’s pale with fear his anger can be shown in a different way – narrowed eyes, furrowed brow, flaring nostrils … you get the idea ;).

    I am intrigued and would read on … up to the point when Aryli and Arybin start getting mixed up in my head.

  10. I liked it.

    You've already had several essay written on (which were longer than your entry)it so I won't crit it beyond the one thing that bugged me. I can't pronounce the names. If I can't pronounce them, I often lose interest. Hence why I never read the Lord of the Rings beyond the Hobbit. I guess that's why I prefer YA urban fantasy to pure fantasy. Of course that's all subjective.

    Good luck!

  11. The idea is certainly interesting, so it would grab a reader's attention.

    I have two suggestions. One is about the description. It's like a combination of showing and telling, when all showing would probably work better. For example, "... walking confidently (telling) toward the platform with my head held high (showing confidence)." Just do all showing, like "stride toward the platform with my head held high."

    Also, shorter sentences may increase the tension (e.g., "Game on" would be more dramatic than "Apparently, it was game on.")

    Third, this feels a little anti-climatic for the end of the chapter. This feels like it should be earlier, like the initial confrontation, rather than a follow-up to a bigger confrontation. Typically, you want suspense novels to have escalating conflicts throughout the novel.

    Good luck; it's a great premise!

  12. Hello!
    I enjoyed this small excerpt almost as much as the longer excerpt on ABNA. It makes me eager to read more. Everyone else has made such thoughtful comments, so I don't really have anything new to add, except that "Just Kidding" and "Game on" would seem too modern for a normal fantasy character. However, if I'm correct, Aryli is thrust into this world from ours at the beginning, so her slang didn't jar me and in fact seemed right for her character (what I know of her.) I did agree that her name may be too close to Arybin's. Fantasy names can be so hard--in the current story I'm roughing out, I discovered I had a Rankin, a Randel, and a Rainier (sounds like some funky law firm.) I think our ears get attached to certain sounds, and we subconsciously pick names to reflect those sounds. Anyway, I look forward to reading more of Anjidia. From what I've read so far, this seems spot on for the YA market.

  13. Sorry for the late critique.

    YA Fantasy! Yum. I really like the idea of a rightful ruler returning to find a usurper. Sets up some potentially fantastic conflict.

    I have to disagree that the modern language detracts. I like it. Just because something is set in a different world, doesn't mean characters think and speak archaically. It's fresh. I relate to it better. :-)

    "Please don't do anything me," is confusing to me, but this is probably because I didn't get to read the whole chapter. "I thought at him and Miqqal and Hyton." Is there a reason you're using two "ands" instead of one? Also, "thinking at" someone reads awkwardly to me, but this is only my opinion.

    Love the last sentence. I'd love to read on. Good luck!

  14. Oh, also one more thing. I think someone's brought this up already, but if you ask an agent or editor to read this, they'll almost invariably tell you that either the name Aryli or the name Arybin will have to change. Similarities in names are a big no-no. I had to do a second-take just reading this excerpt because I had to see if it was the same person.

    I hope you keep the modern language! :-) Wishing you the best.