Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#19 January Secret Agent

TITLE: On Kingery Skyland
GENRE: YA Fantasy

I stared at the stream of water as it trickled from the faucet. Dad was in the shower, so the pressure wasn't great. It was weak and cold, not exactly ideal for washing your face.

His shout echoed through the wet chamber. "Jemma, are you running water again?"

I opened my bathroom door a crack and glared down the hall. I hate the mornings when he has showings. His showers are always way too long, like Mom and I don't have to get ready too. Well, I guess Mom doesn't. But I've got school and I already don't feel like going.

"Are you almost done?"

He didn't hear me over his whistling.

With a sigh, I slammed the door and punched the water off. The sink was filled enough, anyway. I took a deep breath and forced my mind to go blank. I relaxed my jaw and my eyebrows drifted upward.

I felt that familiar tickle at the back of my mind as I stared at the water in the sink. I blinked. It wasn't that my vision ever changed, really. Everything just seemed clearer, brighter maybe. The world was just so much more present, so much more alive. And I felt it acutely.

Casting out my senses, I even felt the invisible droplets of water hiding in the air. Even the moisture in my skin, the blood flowing through my veins. It hummed, calling to me. I looked back down at the sink where the pull was so much stronger than anywhere else.

14 comments:

  1. This is interesting! I'm curious about what her ability/power might be.

    I think the first sentence would be stronger without 'I stared at.' So, instead, it'd be 'The stream of water trickled from the faucet.' or even just 'Water trickled from the faucet.'

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  2. I agree with Mai. I'm very interested by the end but the first para needs work. Maybe start with: The water was weak and cold. Not ideal for washing one's face; yet Dad yelled from his bathroom, "

    This eliminates having to tell us he was in the shower- we get it in the next couple lines anyway, and we get where she is- at the sink trying to wash her face. And it starts with her describing the water. Water seems to be important to her and that focuses on it right away.

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  3. Good, but shorten the lead-in about how long Dad showered. You could go straight from the first paragraph to "The sink was filled enough, anyway."

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  4. I like it, esp. the very paragraph.

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  5. I think you have an interesting concept here you're trying to get at. Obviously there's something up with the water.

    However, I wouldn't keep reading on, and do you know why? Because the beginning dwells on unimportant matters. You can depict the same thing: the dad taking too long a shower and the water running cold in basically one sentence or brief paragraph and go straight to the action. This bodes bad for the rest of the book (of course, I could be wrong)and if it doesn't advance the plot or characterization (this is my philosophy) then you probably don't need.

    So, even though I wasn't pulled in, there are other people who have and of course it is only my opinion.

    Good luck! :)

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  6. I like the concept of the water-filled sink having some draw or power or purpose.

    I agree with the comments above about tightening up the writing and trimming some of the wordiness out of the intro.
    Focus on the water in the sink and the moment, and how it affects the MC; you can weave info on the father and mother and the MC's relationship with them in later.

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  7. I agree with the comments regarding condensing what you already have, and how cuts would make your language more effective.

    The second paragraph makes it sound as though they are in the same bathroom -- if they aren't, then how is his shout echoing through her bathroom when he's down the hall, in a shower, and her door is closed?

    I guess part of the issue is that I have no idea what's at stake here. It's clear from the end of this excerpt that the MC has a strange relationship to water, but if that's the draw then why isn't it front and center.

    I'm not hooked by what you have here, but I feel like I might have been if I was able to read the next few paragraphs.

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  8. I wasn't drawn in. Yes, you've got something going on with the water, but it's not enough. Whatever she's got going on with the water isn't the underlying problem. WHy doesn't she feel like going to school?

    As others have said, condense this. The focus should be on her relationship with water and the underlying issue. Make those known on your first page.

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  9. Author of On Kingery SkylandJanuary 20, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    Hey guys, I just want to thank everyone for all the helpful comments! I agree that I spent too much time focusing on the dad, especially for the first 250 words. So after making a few cuts, this is what I've come up with for my new 250. I hope it's an improvement!

    I stared at the stream of water as it trickled from the faucet. Dad was in the shower, so the pressure wasn’t great. It was weak and cold, not exactly ideal for washing your face.

    With a sigh, I punched the water off. It was filled enough, anyway. I took a deep breath and forced my mind to go blank. I relaxed my jaw and my eyebrows drifted upward.

    I felt that familiar tickle at the back of my mind as I stared at the water in the sink. I blinked. It wasn’t that my vision ever changed, really. Everything just seemed clearer, brighter maybe. The world was just so much more present, so much more alive. And I felt it acutely.

    Casting out my senses, I even felt the invisible droplets of water hiding in the air. Even the moisture in my skin, the blood bubbling through my veins. I looked back down at the sink where the pull was so much stronger than anywhere else. It hummed, calling to me.

    I plunged my hands into the basin and splashed cold water across my face. It dribbled down my forehead, soaking the lashes that framed my slate-blue eyes. Focusing on the cold, I froze the droplets as they beaded on my cheeks.

    Icicles clung to my eyelashes and eyebrows, making me look like some fantastical ice-queen. The soft blue glow pulsing from the tear-drop birthmark on my arm glinted across the ice as I smoothed the pale wisps of hair from my face.

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  10. I like this as a description of her playing with her skills and I think this is a great scene for somewhere in the book. I liked the description of her shifting and of her interaction with water.

    But I get no sense of what the story is going to be about or what she's going to face. Not every book has to have that up front-- but if my understanding about this event is correct, you're trying to showcase your story to an agent, who might like to know what issue your protagonist will be facing. I personally wouldn't want to read an entire novel about a magic-user arguing with Dad over the water pressure. So you might want to start someplace more integral to the plot. YMMV.

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  11. oops. that 1:55 a.m. anonymous was ellen.

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  12. I think your revised opening fixes some of the issues in the original - it was a good idea to cut the stuff with Dad. That said, this still moved a bit too slow for me. While your magic system seems like an interesting premise, it wasn't that interesting to just watch her play around with her magic. I think it could be more compelling if her relationship to water is hinted at over a few scenes, leading to a big reveal.

    I'd also cut the mention of her eye color. Most people don't think "I have water in my *brown* eyes." They just think about their eyes. Also, your new opening is missing important info like the characters gender, approximate age, and goal - we don't even have a short term goal.

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  13. Hey, Secret Agent here! Hmm…interesting. The character clearly has some affinity to water, and I like that you show her as hyper aware of even the water in the air and in her body. I hope you can keep that kind of awareness up throughout…that would be challenging!

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  14. It does seem like a weird place to start an entire novel. Personally, I'm okay with scenes that don't necessarily advance the plot...but not for opening scenes. If I were reading the book, I'd kind of skip on until something unusual happened even if it's the very next paragraph where the reader gets a clearer understanding of the water-related powers.

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