Friday, November 29, 2013

(39) YA Science Fantasy: Magick 7.0

TITLE: Magick 7.0
GENRE: YA Science Fantasy

After an orphan triggers the stupidest quest ever, she has three days to slay a silver dragon that doesn’t exist or she’ll be exiled from home. But when she uncovers the true purpose of the quest—to fix the computer that created the world—she must stop the ten-thousand-year-old scientist who programmed the computer or he’ll use it to erase her world and recreate his own.

At Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children they didn’t play favorites. Each orphan was treated with the same amount of disdain and neglect. They were provided with one threadbare tunic, one pair of ill-fitting shoes, and one dusty and moth-eaten overcoat. They were given a daily ration of gruel, and they were bathed exactly once per month, just before going on duty in the coal mine. This, incidentally, was consistent with the advice given in the popular self-help guide, How to Raise Orphans and Make Money.

There were three ways to leave Saint Lupin’s. The first was to get adopted. Perhaps by a nice family who would whisk you away to your long dreamed-of castle on a hill—one surrounded by forests and glens, filled with interesting and friendly people, rich with history and bright with promise and hope. The board of governors was extremely pleased with its track record in this regard as it had managed to prevent all adoptions since the Institute’s foundation.

The second way was to reach the age of sixteen and be unceremoniously kicked out on your bottom.

The third way was to embark upon a quest. Although quests were heavily regulated (so they could then be heavily taxed), there were no restrictions regarding age or background and thus anyone could apply. The secret to a successful application was first to fulfill a prophecy (prophecies were also heavily taxed). At Saint Lupin’s, both of these topics, that is, quests and prophecies, were considered particularly taboo subjects of inquiry.


  1. The humor in this opening is extremely well done - definitely made me like the voice right off the bat. I think it will be important to establish soon whether this voice is a third person narrator or is the orphan mentioned in the log line. I assumed it was a third person narrator, but when I re-read I realized it may not be. If it is the orphan, you may want to hint at that in the first 250 to allow us the chance to immediately associate the voice with the MC.

    Good job and best of luck!

  2. Great humorous voice. As long as the tone remains consistent, this feels like it'll be a great ride.

    Though when the story doesn't take itself seriously to this extent, the reader might also fall into the same trap. I sometimes felt hyper-aware of the puppet strings. My suspension of disbelief was most tested with this particular contradiction: if the orphanage is trying to save money by neglecting their orphans, why would they be happy to prevent any adoptions? Usually, adoption fees are what keep the orphanages running.

    Good luck!

  3. Wow, the first paragraph is hilarious and I feel awful for thinking so and that just adds up to a sum of awesome! But I'm with the gal above me--how do you make money if you're preventing adoptions? You gotta tell us why, or we're kinda folding our arms at you with smirkety-eyebrows. You could tell me they want to keep more workers for the coal mines, but then why bother kicking kids out at sixteen?

    I would absolutely read this forever. I really am kind of confused by the logline and by the last paragraph, though. Maybe I'm just kind of dumb. But if her home sucks this bad, why DOESN'T she want to be exiled from it? Me do not unnerstand dese stakes.

  4. Love the voice! It feels reminiscent of Lemony Snicket to me. Really well done. I might suggest getting to our orphan mc a little sooner, but I like the first page enough to read on and see what develops. Best of luck!

  5. Absolutely love this. How did you fit so much into 250 words??? Love the three ways to get out of St Lupins how everything is heavily taxed and a quest... oh yes, I cannot resist a quest! I definitely want to read this.

  6. I love the voice in your 250--it grabbed me immediately, and I would certainly read on. The voice + the first part of the plot (dragon slaying quest) reminds me of Jasper Fforde's Dragonslayer books (in the best possible way).

    I was puzzled by the fact that in your logline, the main character has no name or age--just a series of references to "she." So I'm left a bit unsure of who the protagonist is, and why I should care for her. And, since YA usually has the romantic wibbly-wobblies, where that might come in. I'm very curious! You've piqued my interest, so great job and good luck!

  7. I agree with others--the voice here is so, so great. Hilarious and dry and really clever. Great job! However, I do want to see the MC--or at least a hint of her--earlier. I was pulled right in, but I want to meet our hero to keep my interest. I wondered if this was perhaps a prologue with a strong narrator. Either way, I'd definitely keep reading at this point.

    My other comment/critique is with the logline. It was a bit confusing and could be streamlined/clarified, especially the second sentence. Good luck!

  8. Seems like a lot of fun. I'd keep reading.

    I'm curious why you labelled it Science Fantasy. Fantasy with science elements (like Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East) are just labelled Fantasy. And sci-fi with fantasical elements (like Dreampark) are labelled Sci-fi. I suggest choosing just one.

    Okay, I really like the text but it doesn't seem like YA to me -- even if it does read like a cross between Lemony Snicket and Craig Shaw Gardner. Perhaps it's upper MG?

  9. OMG this is amazing. Amazing. Absolutely perfect and funny and original. All I have to say is - do you need an extra crit partner??

    (Ok one thing - I agree it seems more MG than YA.)

    Good luck!

  10. It is entertainingly written, but I would prefer to see a character doing something. This type of explaining, though well done, gets old quickly to me. Who is the MC?

  11. HaHaHa! Loved this. I'm sure somebody will find s omething to pick at, but I'm not finding anything. Very entertaining. :)

  12. Hey, there!

    Really solid writing with this one. It's tight, it's pacey, and it's well-executed.

    I'm not the first to say this, but I definitely see this as middle-grade and not YA. It has that tone to it, and I think whenever you're dealing with orphans, the reader will visualize young(er) children. Plus, according to your logline, the MC goes on a quest to slay a silver dragon. Dragons are VERY middle-grade. I'm not sure how the rest of your story pans out, but I would absolutely look into making sure you're clear about what the genre is.

    I'm willing to believe that the institute has stopped all adoptions--I don't think kids will be too concerned with how they make money. But I am confused about the quests that are brought up in the last paragraph. So they just...go on one? Is it through the institute? I would guess no because it's a taboo subject, and yet quests are heavily regulated/taxed, so maybe not?

    Really interesting and curious stuff here! Again, I think the biggest thing here is to reconsider this is as middle-grade.

    Keep writing and good luck!

  13. Wow, love the humor! The first line also read like MG to me. I was sold as soon as I read the name of the Institute. You are hilarious. The last line of the logline confused me a bit, but I'm down with the story. I want to read more.

    Good luck with this!

  14. I adore the voice in this. It reminds me so much of Lemony Snickett - both the tone and the setting.

    I do wonder how the whole quest-to-slay-a-dragon thingm which is so typically an other-world fantasy, fits in with this seemingly Dickensian/Victorian setting (which admittedly I may be making up in my own mind.)

    I would like to have some sort of grounding in the main character fairly soon - the MC is usually what cinches it for me if I'll enjoy a book or not - but with this kind of darkly humorous voice I'd read on and on. I want more!

  15. Ha, this made me giggle several times. :)

    My only quibble is that it's all telling, but darn it if I still think it works here. So, don't change a thing, and good luck! :)

    P.S. If you are looking for a CP, let me know if you want to swap chapters. You can read the openings of my two finished books here

  16. Tricia Lawrence, EMLADecember 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    40 pages!

  17. 60 pages

  18. Tricia Lawrence, EMLADecember 3, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    80 pages

  19. *sheepish giggle

  20. Damn it!!!!!!!!! I REALLY REALLY wanted this one. I'll get you, Joan!



  22. Can I bid on this one? No? Well, then, um...Joan (who is my agent), could you please (with a big scoop of ice cream on top) maybe sort of kind of send this one on to me when you're done?



    I think I would like the name of the 'popular self-help guide' to be HOW TO RAISE ORPHANS AND MAKE A FORTUNE as I think 'money' in that title dilutes it a little.

    I think this is a lot of telling, with little of the 'action' etc that we are constantly told every single solitary book (of any genre) must begin with. And I think it works perfectly.

    Wonderful voice, fantastic series of brilliance in the log line (oh, my, I so love 'slay a silver dragon that doesn't exist' and then to immediately smack me upside the head with computer programming? Sold!)


  23. Also, the scientist should be 9, 874 years old...not an even 10,000.