Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#34 January Secret Agent

TITLE: Edge of the Falls
GENRE: YA Dystopian

I saw it once--from the opposing hillside. And I remember that moment, the house gleaming in the mist and the soft light from the City, a fire burning in one of the bedroom windows. I remember how afraid of it I was, even having grown up within it.

The Manor perches on the edge of the Falls, and is forever covered in the dew and ice they threw. I stand on the precipice of earth and air and water, and let the wildness of it wrap around me, claim me. This, the fierce cold and sting of snow in my face, the taste of wild wind and ash on my lips, is why I love the Falls--why I love Outside.

A sneeze makes me jerk, and I look over my shoulder.

Lilith is trudging through the snow, the tip of her red nose poking out of her hood. She bends, inspecting something near the ground and I hold my breath, hoping. If she has found them, we can go back to the warmth and relative safety of the Manor.

She straightens and her eyes dart to me, questioning. I sigh, and shake my head. We have been harvesting the starrbriars for three weeks now--the supply on the cliff face has been exhausted. I've been dreading this day. Tugging my woolen cloak closer and wishing it were somehow a stronger protection from the spray, I motion Lilith to follow me back to the Manor.


  1. Oh yes, I would lke to read more.

  2. This is my kind of book! I already have a great feel for the world you've created and the main character. Wonderful job. I would pick this up off a bookstore shelf for sure.

    However, I think it needs a little polishing. The first paragraph was confusing. What's "it" that she saw once? I'm not sure if all this is a memory or happening now. The second paragraph is atmospheric, but a little overwritten. some of that "elemental" description can be cut and keep the same feel.

    You say that if they find the starrbriars they can go to the Manor, and they don't seem to find them, but they go back anyway.

    From the sneeze on, I'm hooked. I really love this and would request pages if I was an agent!

  3. I'd definitely be turning the page to keep reading.

  4. I really liked the writing. It adds tone and mood to the whole piece.

    I am understanding the 'it' that he sees to be the manor?

    So he's standing on the edge of the cliff enjoying the wind and cold and water and telling us he loves it. He loves Outside. (And that capitalized Outside makes me wonder what's Inside. Nice!)

    Then Lilith arrives and he's suddenly longing for the warmth and safety of the manor, which, from your opening paragraph, seems he hasn't been in for some time?

    So at this point, I'm thinking perhaps the 'it' isn't the manor, and I'm wondering what 'it' is?

    So, basically, I'm confused, but the writing is good enough to make me want to read on and hope I'll be less confused as the story progresses.

  5. I like this and I would read on, but it was the section from the sneeze on that made me feel that way. The writing before that was beautiful, but I felt like the story didn't start until Lilith showed. Still, I'd keep reading.

  6. Excellent writing, intriguing premise, solid opening. The start is a bit slower than I usually like, but I'd continue reading.

  7. I am a little disoriented. The first paragraph doesn't seem to fit with the others. I am sure it will be explained, but in just 250 words it leaves me a little confused. Also, there seem to be inconsistencies. If the MC loves the Outside, why does he/she want to go back in? If they can't go back in without more starrbriars, why do they? It is well written and I do want to know what is going on, so I would give it a few more pages to hook me.

  8. I was intrigued and would definitely want to read more. One thing that confused me and I wanted more of an immediate explanation was the first sentence in the second paragraph, "forever covered in the dew and ice they threw."

  9. I agree with what others say about the first paragraph. I get what you're saying there, but I think it can be woven in with a short sentence once you mention the Manor.

    extremely lame example: The Manor perches on the edge of the Falls, and is forever covered in dew and ice they threw. I remember how afraid of it I was, even having grown up within it.

    Again, lame example, but I hope that give you ideas.

    Aside from that one tiny thing...I loved it! I reminds me of Jacyln Dolamore's writing because she writes fantasy, but it sounds like it's from another era. Bravo!

  10. My first thought was that the writing fits both Lovecraft and Hodgson's The House on the Borderlands. I definitely prefer this style of dystopian.

    The "it" in the beginning is definitely confusing. If "it" is the Manor -- which seems likely -- why not just start with "I saw the Manor once"? I think that would be more effective, especially when we learn that the MC is living in the Manor (so it's strange that the MC isn't familiar with what it looks like).

    Nitpick: It seems to me that "threw" in the second paragraph should be "throw". The Falls is still throwing the water, I imagine.

    I would keep reading.

  11. I'm... not quite hooked. Some of the writing is really nice, but I think I need more orientation, more action, and more clarity. (For example, near the end, you say "If she has found them"; why hold back? Just tell us what she's looking for straightaway.)

    Disclaimer, though: I don't read a lot of literary fiction, and that might be the tone you're going for. So maybe I'm just not your target audience.

  12. I like dystopian, and you seem to have an interesting world, so far. I found several things confusing. Like others, I didn't know what the narrator was referring to in the first paragraph. I think he/she is referring to the manor, but I had to reread to figure it out.

    The switch from past to present tense confused me.

    It doesn't make sense that the narrator would say he/she loves the outside and is then clamoring to get back to the manor.

    It's not immediately clear who is sneezing - at first I thought it might be the narrator.

    When Lilith appears, it seems as if she's the one who's looking for starrbriars but then the narrator is the one who shakes his/her head, confirming that there are no starrbriars.

    Finally, it would be nice to at least know the narrator's gender.

    While the writing is nice and pretty clean (the second paragraph seemed a little wordy), I think I was too confused to want to read on.

  13. I love this! The writing does a create job of crafting place as a character itself and I now want to read more about the lovely, dystopian world you've created here. The one thing that tripped me up was the first sentence of the second paragraph - I'd drop the "...they threw" at the end. Excellent start!

  14. I really like this. Your writing is beautiful. The imagery is lovely: 'the house gleaming in the mist and the soft light from the City.'

    I did wonder at "A sneeze makes me jerk, and I look over my shoulder."

    Did the MC sneeze or hear a sneeze and thus look over his/her shoulder?

    I'd read this book :)

  15. Hey, Secret Agent here! There were some writing issues here, like some tense switcheroo. Also, as written, the sneeze could’ve been the narrator’s, too. I’m not immediately sure why they have to go to the Manor and what it has to do with the harvest, but the conflict is clearly presented. I like the Falls and Outside, too, and it’s well-described.

  16. Thanks so much to ALL who crit'd Edge for me. I really enjoyed being apart of this contest and the feedback was excellent and SOO right. I think I needed the nudge to get me to change the opening because I am super fond of it, even knowing it was confusing as hell. So I've revised it, and will continue to work on making this book better.
    SA--I really appreciate you taking the time to do this contest. Thanks so much :)
    And Authoress--definetely on my blog list now. Thanks for hosting this oppurtunity.