Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Middle Grade Are You Hooked? #4

GENRE: MG Fantasy

Solan threw a smooth stone into the ocean and watched it skip three times before it disappeared into the blue waters. The sun beat down on him, but he'd rather sit on the docks than go home and listen to his tutor, Gregor, drone on about history. The present was much more fun. It was a beautiful day in Shona, the capital city of Atlantis, and there was nowhere he'd rather not be than stuck inside.

Fishers swam through the coral and kelp under the docks, their silver suits gleaming. Every time Solan splashed his feet their images swirled. He wanted to learn how to swim, but Father said it wasn't fitting for any son of his. Only the lower classes worked under the waves. Solan sighed and skipped another rock, but his aim was off and it sank quickly.

A commotion at the far end of the pier drew Solan's attention. A small group of strangers walked up the coral stairway the fishers used to reach the docks, dragging a small watercraft behind them. The women's red hair and yellow eyes caused the shouts. People like that didn't live in Atlantis. Outsiders weren't allowed in anymore, or at least that's what Gregor told him. Solan hid behind an outcropping of rocks. If the guards came down to the docks, they might catch him, too. Father would be furious.

When the Palace guards arrived moments later, the red-haired women scattered as the men shot crystal fire into their midst.


  1. I'm not sure that sitting on the docks, staring at the water is a strong enough opening. Maybe if you started with the arrival of the strange women and then worked in the stuff about playing hooky, etc. As it stands now, I'd have to say not hooked.

  2. Love this one. Anything about Atlantis peaks my interest & the title is great; that alone makes me want to read it. Good luck. RubyRed0

  3. I like your setup and I'd read on to see what happens next. I think you can cut out some of the initial info about skipping his history lesson as it was a bit clunky. The visual scenes describing the fishers swimming through the coral and the strange women appearing on shore were much more striking. Well done!

  4. The main issue here is that you're writing for the reader. You're explaining who and what people are. Solan would know Gregor is his tutor and wouldn't think - his tutor, Gregor. He'd just think, Gregor. This happens throughout the excerpt. Perhapss work at getting the explanations in in a more natural way.

    You might also make sure you're saying what you mean, and that what you're writing makes sense. For instance -

    If Solan threw a stone in the water, it's going to sink, not skip, so say he 'skipped' it across the water. Since the sun is beating down on him, say he'd rather sit on a 'hot' dock, so there's a reason to mention the sun.

    A coral stairway creates a nice image, but coral is hard and sharp and a brush up against it would gouge someone's leg open. Do you really want coral stairs?

    Solan is sitting on the pier in plain sight. Why does he suddenly have to hide, and where did the outcropping of rocks come from if he's on the dock? He has to get up and leave.

    Perhaps play around with it a bit more.

  5. I agree with the first comment -- I think you're starting two paragraphs two early. Jump straight to the action. All we really need to know about the setting is that it's on the docks. The other info can wait. Good luck!

  6. Erm, that would be "too early." It's what I get for trying to type with a baby in my hands. ^_^;;

  7. This is very slow. It really doesn't read like a MG story... especially the way you describe the world is not how a kid that age would look at things.

    Example: "Every time Solan splashed his feet their images swirled."

    The narrator voice feels very heavy/intrusive in lines like that.