Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Name That Genre: Critique Round #2

TITLE: The Last Faoii
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Stupid morning bells. Stupid, stupid morning bells. Kaiya cast a baleful glance at the grand iron banes of her existence as she trudged towards Chapel. The bells ignored her and continued to ring with a clarity that was unnecessary in the otherwise silent dawn. Next to her, Mollie made an impatient sound and pulled at Kai’s elbow.

“Come on, Kai. I’m not going to get stuck with dishes for the next two weeks because you think it’s too difficult to get up like any regular faoii for chapel.”

Kaiya wrinkled her nose and yanked her arm away, making a face at her redheaded shield mate. It wasn’t too difficult, just unnecessary. The Goddess didn’t ask for your worship through words or songs. She cared about your love of justice and strength. She cared about your faith in honor and virtue. She cared about the strength that came from being you. You didn’t have to worry about pleasing Her. Why would it matter to the Eternal One whether you got up at dawn or two hours later?

Mollie sighed. “Come on, Kai. Don’t think that way.” Kai scowled. She hated when her shield mate read her unspoken words. Mollie had always been better at using the sight than Kai, and it made the older girl feel vulnerable. It wasn’t even really a violation so much as a mark of shame. Mollie was simply better than Kai at reading someone’s thoughts based on expression and body language. It didn’t make Kai feel any better to know that she was horrible at masking the signs. Even so, she ignored Mollie’s remark, pretending that the younger girl’s sight hadn’t been spot-on.

Nothing got past Mollie, though. Suddenly the redhead stopped, spinning Kai to face her as she planted her hands on leather-clad hips.


  1. I really like the worldbuilding you're doing here; there's a reason this was one of the winners. :) It's easy to tell this is a fantasy setting, and you've thrown in some great clues about the world your reader's about to enter.

    I'm not quite intrigued yet, though. Other than the cool new world itself, I'm not sure what I'm letting myself in for if I continue reading. I've got a good sense of Kaiya's personality from her internal monologue, but what situation is she walking into? What's the action here?

    Maybe I'm being too picky for the first 300 words, but I just wanted to share my first reactions. I really like the voice and want to know more. :)

  2. I really enjoyed this the first 150 words and continue to be curious about this world and these characters!

    I like seeing the built-in conflict right up front -- Kai's view of the (sacred but obvious very present) world doesn't mesh with how most people think. My guess is her different way of seeing things is going to be at the root of conflicts she faces later but also key to her winning out eventually. I like seeing her insecurity (around Mollie) early -- makes her a fuller person right away.

    I was a little thrown by the last paragraph (or partial paragraph, given it's at the 300w mark). We know Mollie is super-perceptive, but I didn't understand what she had noticed that caused her to spin around. I would have expected this reaction to something more dramatic than Kai (silently) disagreeing with and ignoring her.

    Kai's account of the "sight," in the prior paragraph, threw me a little, too. At first, I assumed it was some sort of paranormal sense and found *that* completely believable given the other cues about this story taking place in a fantasy setting. But later Kai remarks (as 3P narrator) that the sight is merely being aware of body language (that's how I took it, anyway). This seems to undo the way it's introduced at first. I'm guessing you will flesh out the "sight" later? It's an interesting idea, having a powerful non-verbal means of communicating.

    Good luck with your writing! Hope to see more of this novel here some time!

  3. Ugh, typos. Sorry!

    Should be: Kai's view of the (sacred but obviously very present) ...

  4. Like BrigidG, the word sight seems to mean more than just reading body language, especially since it was italicized. Hopefully sight is explained more as the story unfolds. The last sentence makes me think something big is about to happen or be revealed. This would keep me reading for a few more pages. Nice job.

  5. You've created an interesting world and an interesting character here. For the most part, the world building is threaded through nicely so it feels natural.

    I have a couple of suggestions.

    1) The first sentence of dialogue is really long. I was reading out loud, and I had to stop for breath in the middle. You might want to break it up.

    2) The paragraph about the sight (which is a cool power!) goes on for a long time. That slows down the movement of the scene. Is there any way you could convey the same information with fewer words? It just needs to be condensed a bit.

    I like your end line. I'm curious to know what Mollie has read in Kai that upset her. I would read on for that alone.

  6. I like the world building in this. It feels pretty legit to me--enough to set us but not enough to confuse. I like her religion and the way she describers her goddess and tries to justify sleeping in.

    I think you need a paragraph break after "Don't think that way." to separate what Mollie says from what Kai is thinking.

    There's a little bit of tweaking I think needs to be done in that fourth paragraph. I think you should cut "She hated when her shield mate read her unspoken words," because it sounds like telepathy, which makes the next line slightly more difficult to parse, and it isn't clear what this "sight" is until way down in the paragraph. Also, you're saying twice that Mollie's better at it than Kai and saying in various ways that she doesn't like it: "she hated when... feel vulnerable... mark of shame... feel any better..." etc. See if condensing that idea into a single, more expressive statement makes it flow better.

    I really like the idea of it being an art to read and hide body language, especially as part of their faith. I'd be interested to see where this goes.

    (In that last sentence, I'm not sure whose hands are on whose hips.)

  7. I think you're explaining things more than you really need to. The paragraph about the sight is too long. And once you tell us Kaiya is older, you don't then need tell us that Mollie is younger. Without knowing their exact ages, this doesn't mean much anyway.

    Also, I'm not impressed by the Mollie's use of the sight. Everything from her having to drag Kaiya in the first place and to Kaiya making faces at her shows us how Kaiya is feeling. I don't think you need special powers to see that.

  8. For me, the telling goes on a little too long. Consider staying with Mollie and Kai arguing over mind reading. Let them have a little heated discussion which shows how each feels about the practice, and maybe each other. Save Mollies gifts for later. Or, insert some of them into the dialogue between them. That way you can naturally boost the tension, and convey more about their relationship to the reader without telling us what it is.

    It also troubles me that the worst thing they fear is doing the dishes. That seems way too bland. Consider making the punishment much more egregious, or funny. To carry the story forward, you need something much more frightening or interesting.