Wednesday, January 29, 2014

First Two (YA Fiction) #6

TITLE: Children of Annwn:The Promise
GENRE: YA romantic fantasy

Mist rolled off the grassy slopes on the hillside, and the purple and pink slashes in the sky stained the sandstone on the castle that abutted the cliff, a beautiful rose color. Mia stared at the majestic fortress as it stood guard over the sea, a foreboding sight should anyone dare to enter Annwn from the water, and shivered. The milky white sun peeped from behind the curtains of clouds that rolled passed, and she turned towards the sea. Her heart beat slowly, and Mia took a deep breath in, capturing all that lay before her, soaking in the very essence and smells of her home Annwn, should it all be forgotten. It was dawn and the start of a new day.

A new beginning.

Annwn the Otherworld was a realm on earth, shielded from human eyes by magic. Its exact location a highly guarded secret, but legend suggests that it lay somewhere along the Welsh coast. Wales was a land steeped in magic and folklore. Mia smiled recalling the tales of King Arthur and the Druids and sighed, because that was the time when everything changed. Her people visited the human world often, but after the fall of the great king, Annwn closed its doors. She stared across the endless glossy water, and her hair danced wildly as the wind picked up speed.

“Are you ready?” Mia turned, and gazed at Ryder her betrothed. She accepted his outstretched hand and smiled. He was her heart, and the reason they both stood on the shores of their home ready to cast everything they knew aside. Her toes curled into the silky grains of white sand like an anchor, but she knew she must let go and set sail.

“As ready as I’ll ever be.” A rough, calloused hand smoothed across her cheek and her eyes closed. In Annwn, it was the law that once a couple became promised to one another, they must complete a challenge that would test the power of their love, and magic. This law was created when humans entered the world of Annwn, diluting the magic as the Elders said. Only strong matches were allowed, strong in love and magic to ensure that magic always continued, at least that was what the Elders preached.

After great debate, it was decided that Mia and Ryder would enter the human world where promises were broken every day and live as mortals. Their memories of their lives in Annwn would be locked away. If their love did not survive the challenge, then their memories would be stripped away, and they would remain human. Mia shivered as coldness settled in her bones and icy tentacles locked inside her throat rendering her speechless. Her visions predicting the end of mankind further underlined the reason for them to venture into the unknown, because the two realms were linked by a history, by blood and what was predicted for the humans was eerily repeated in the visions of the future for their enchanted world of Annwn.


  1. I think the first sentence can be broken up to make it read easier and achieve a stronger impact. consider making it two sentences as in:

    "Mist rolled off the grassy slopes onto the hillside. The purple and pink slashes......etc

    (Also, I think you can consider losing "that abutted the cliff." It would make the description flow more lyrically. If you do keep it then you do not need the comma after it.)

    I like the premise of the story. The idea of completing a task to prove a couple's love can provide a rich foundation for a good read. I think to improve, you need to go through the text and shorten sentences where you can - paying particular attention to the use of commas and making certain all your clauses hang together as they should. You don't want your meaning to be obscured.

    On a personal note, what caught my eye about your story was the use of the words "Annwn" and "Otherworld." I completed a contemporary fantasy novel called The Mind's I which also relies heavily on Annwyns (I spelled it differently and in my book it is a race of beings not a place). I supsect we both like celtic Mythology! :) Good luck!

  2. I like your premise, but I think you have way too much going on here for the first two pages. Save your background and worldbuilding up, and intersperse it throughout the first couple chapters.

    I would start with Mia and her fiance on the shore, ready to depart. Focus on her feelings. Let us get to know her before giving us all the background information.

  3. Yes I agree with SueJay. I like your premise as well and your writing flows nicely, but I've heard from agents to avoid describing setting for your first page, and especially for your first sentence! You want to start with action, drama, and tension. Keep the world building for later. I think first pages are particularly hard for those of us who create new world, honestly! Though they sure as heck aren't easy for anyone.

  4. Hi Everyone and thank you for reading my entry and giving such thoughtful feedback. After years of saying no more changes, edits, I'm done, here I am, and still revising!!!
    Daniel-Your suspicions are correct. I love all things Celtic, and as I was born in Wales, I guess it's in my blood.
    Sue Jay-I agree there is a lot going on, and have to explain this is the prologue, and sets up what is to follow. The story begins in Annwn, but the first chapter is in the modern day. I have debated back and forth as to whether I should include a prologue, still not sure!
    Anonymous-Thanks for your advice, I have already changed parts after this critique session, and no doubt will continue to do so until someone says,"Totally hooked." Thanks for the opportunity. :)

  5. I think this concept has potential, and there are some nice images here, such as the colors in the sky and the milky white sun coming through the clouds. And although some folks seem to think it's old fashioned, I see no problem with opening with a description that sets the scene.

    The problem here is your third paragraph, and then much of your last two paragraphs -- I'm afraid this is a classic example of an 'info dump'.

    As SueJay said, you need to weave all this information in as you go along, not give it to the reader in one big lump at the start. Get us engaged with Mia on a personal level, and focus on what she would actually be experiencing in the moment, and let the reader find all these things out as they follow her story.

    There were just a couple of other things that jumped out at me. In that first paragraph I would cut 'Her heart beat slowly'; I think most of us are only aware of our heartbeat when it's rapid. Just say 'Mia took a deep breath (and you don't need the 'in', because that's understood). And the 'icy tentacles' in her throat in the last paragraph just didn't work for me -- it felt a bit melodramatic and didn't conjure up the right feeling. (We should be feeling her anxiety, not wondering if she swallowed a small squid!) ;)

    I also noticed a few commas that were out of place or missing -- that seems to be a common issue these days -- so I'd suggest reviewing that.

  6. I love the idea of Mia and Ryder entering the human world--I imagine they're going to have to overcome a lot of bumps in the road.

    But I wasn't drawn in from the opening paragraph. It was too wordy for me. I was turned off by the slam of landscape descriptions. I'd also recommend that the background paragraph ("Annwn the Otherworld was a realm on earth...") be moved elsewhere. It pulled me out of the story. We don't need that paragraph yet to understand how Mia feels.

    You might want to consider starting your entire book with the "Are you ready?" paragraph. It's much more intriguing.

    And please be careful of comma usage, as others have pointed out.

  7. I think the premise sounds interesting and has lots of potential, but I think this opening does nothing for you.

    First, nothing happens. A girl and her betrothed hold hands. Second, you're describing a place they are leaving, and you're not even describing the place, you're describing the scenery. While they are nice descriptions, if the couple is leaving, what's the point? Why do they matter? Third, the info you're feeding us is all the info that would probably be on the book flap. It's also backstory that you could give us any other time, but at the beginning, it does nothing for you.

    If the story starts in modern day Annwn, as you say, then start the story there. The reader doesn't have to immediately know what happened before. They do have to know what is happening now. Make that 'now' your opening.

  8. Thank you all for my sleepless night, and I mean that in the nicest possible way! I kept running through the first scene, over and over in my head. I embrace all that you have said, and I am going to slip in some of the background details into further chapters. I am going to keep the descriptions, but I am going to alter the first paragraph. I want you all to know my eyes have been opened, and I believe my story has lots of potential too, and will keep going until it sings! Best wishes, Jen.