Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #7

TITLE: MONSTROSITY
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Trapped. There’s no going back now, Christopher thought as he eyed the room with mounting unease. Frilly, poofed dresses and ornate hairdos filled the space as far as he could see.

“Oh, isn’t it wonderful!” Christine tugged on his arm, beside herself with joy. “I’m so glad we came. Papa, aren’t you glad we came?”

“Mph.” Richard, her father shrugged, frowning.

“Mph is right,” Christopher said with a roll of his eyes.

So many girls. Everything in him wanted to flee, but manners dictated he smile warmly at all who passed. If he’d only succeeded at sneaking his book out of the house, but Christine had snatched it away at first sight.

“Don’t be such a grump. We’re here to have fun. You included! You’re such a scaredy cat.” She pinched his arm and he winced.

“I’m not afraid.” Christopher drew up to his full height and lifted his chin, his smile broadening as he glanced down at Christine. “A woman is not a thing to be feared.”

“Says the man who avoids them like the plague. Did you forget that I’m a woman?”

“You’re fifteen.”

“Only two years younger than you.” She smiled, her dark eyes alight as Christopher snorted. “Please try to have fun tonight. Don’t just stand in the corner. Dance with someone. Dance with Vanessa!”

“Vanessa is just as bad as…” Something caught his eye. A cat sat on a nearby windowsill watching him intently.

“As bad as what?”

One corner of the feline’s mouth twisted up.

Do cats smile?

10 comments:

  1. I truly love this set up, and I'm not typically a fan of fantasy either. My only idea is taking out "Christopher thought" Typically the italics are good enough for an internal thought. But that's just me.

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  2. Ooh, love this! The set-up is well described and the MC's personality really comes through. The last line pulls you right in.

    I think Christopher's relationship to the others should be clear. Maybe here: "... his smile broadening as he glanced down his sister/cousin/date." (We don't actually ever know, do we?)

    It becomes evident that this is in Christopher's POV, but "Richard, her father shrugged" is confusing IF he and Christine are siblings. (The similar names made me think they were.) Maybe say: "...Their father shrugged." (If he IS their father). That would get in the sibling relationship right away and still be in his POV.

    I don't think you need to mention the father's name either at this point. He only appears in one line. Although I get it, if Christopher is not related.

    Overall though, well done!

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  3. inimitableballerinaMay 14, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    I am not a regular reader of fantasy, but the dialogue felt a little clunky to me. It didn't seem like a fifteen-year-old would phrase things this way, as well as the conversation didn't seem to flow.

    I am intrigued about the cat... in an Alice and Wonderland Cheshire cat way.

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  4. The flow and pacing are really nice here. I agree that the dialogue could be a little more conversational, though I do get the general tone as fantasy or historical fantasy. Reading dialogue out loud can help for flow.

    There's potential here to really make the writing shine by replacing clichés with your own twist:

    "he eyed the room with mounting unease."
    Without going overboard, you could show us the unease with a physical or internal reaction, a tug at a high-button collar, or a gut reaction etc.

    "as far as he could see."
    Maybe spin this with unique setting, as far as [something specific in the room]

    “Mph is right,” Christopher said with a roll of his eyes.
    I think this line either isn't needed or perhaps replace rolling of the eyes with something we haven't seen before. Or just move on to his "so many girls" comment.

    I LOVE that the cat smiles. That's a great hook! Overall I think the opening works, my suggestions are more to push it further. Good luck!

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  5. I really like the opening. You expect something really intense and then it turns out to be a ball. It really hooks the reader because how scary could a ball be?

    Some of the dialogue seems a bit young for 15 and 17. Scaredy cat and grump aren't really things teenagers say. Of course if this peice is meant to take place in the past then the dialogue is understandable.

    The cat smiling is intriguing. What's up with this cat?

    Nice job!

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  6. I felt that there isn't a heck of a lot to go on here. A 17 year old boy is somewhere he doesn’t want to be.

    Where is he? Is there a reason why you’re not saying? Just knowing that could make a big difference. And why are he and Dad the ony men there? Again, the answer could add something to this.

    The smiling cat is the biggest hook, I think, but it's still not enough to pull me in. But if there was a connection between that smiling cat and the location, or the event, or some girl at the event, or the reason that they're there, that would be a stronger hook.

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  7. “Oh, isn’t it wonderful!” Christine tugged on his arm, beside herself with joy. “I’m so glad we came. Papa, aren’t you glad we came?”

    “Mph.” Richard, her father shrugged, frowning.

    “Mph is right,” Christopher said with a roll of his eyes.

    So many girls. Everything in him wanted to flee, but manners dictated he smile warmly at all who passed. If he’d only succeeded at sneaking his book out of the house, but Christine had snatched it away at first sight.

    “Don’t be such a grump. We’re here to have fun. You included! You’re such a scaredy cat.” She pinched his arm and he winced.

    “I’m not afraid.” Christopher drew up to his full height and lifted his chin, his smile broadening as he glanced down at Christine. “A woman is not a thing to be feared.”

    “Says the man who avoids them like the plague. Did you forget that I’m a woman?”

    “You’re fifteen.”

    “Only two years younger than you.” She smiled, her dark eyes alight as Christopher snorted. “Please try to have fun tonight. Don’t just stand in the corner. Dance with someone. Dance with Vanessa!”
    Agree with others to replace cliches with actual description. Not sure what the MC's goal is for this chapter. Maybe add that.
    Love the cat!

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  8. Love the title! It has a very new fairy tale twist to it, with clear, concise writing. I prefer books that get to the action and dialogue versus extreme description. This has just enough to paint the picture, and we hop right into the story.

    I'd read it!

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  9. Some of the MC's dialogue seems oddly formal and I'm not sure if this is because it's meant to be (i.e. that's the way he's talking because they're at a ball).

    The MC strikes me as a little bit younger than 17.

    I also love the cat! But at this point the story feels more MG than YA to me.

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  10. This a fun set up. I like the relationship between Christopher and Christine. She's driving him crazy, but her enthusiasm seems to be well-meant, which makes us like her even as we're pitying him.

    I'd be interested to read on, but I'd suggest tightening some of the prose, which feels over-written in places. "Filled the space" feels a bit weak (actually, you might cut those three words entirely and let the sentence rest as a fragment).

    "Christine tugged his arm" (no need for "on" here)
    "Richard shrugged, frowning." (we know Richard is Papa by context)
    "with a roll of his eyes" (we understand his exasperation- the eye roll feels over the top, more than you need)

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