Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Name That Genre: Critique Round #5

TITLE: Dragon Within
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Ling had been hunting dragons her entire life. Each dragon unique. How many had she hunted? Dozens? Hundreds? Maybe a thousand. Yes, at one time there were thousands of dragons, now perhaps a handful were left. At one time she hid from the dragons. Now they hid from her.

It had been years since she encountered a dragon. Her quarry sat a few feet away in the Ex Libris Cafe, radiating magic. Inexperience or overconfidence, she wasn’t sure which. He sipped some frothy espresso drink, blending in with the other college students perfectly. They always blended in. It was one of their talents. Well, it was also something Ling had mastered. She approached, confident the backpack and University of Chicago t-shirt were appropriate for the location.

“Hi, you’re in my physics class aren’t you?” She dropped her backpack on the floor and sat in the chair next to him.

“Professor Johnson’s class?”

She nodded. “Can I ask you a favor?”

“I guess so.”

Good, he didn’t recognize her for what she was. She leaned forward. Not too much, dragons were territorial and she needed his trust. “I missed a couple classes and was wondering if I could copy your notes.”

“Sure.” He leaned down and unzipped his backpack, brushing against her arm as he did.

Magic poured into her. Ling cut off the flow immediately, but the damage was done. It had been so long since she encountered a dragon. She should have shielded herself better. Young dragons like this one leaked magic, but his magic should have been weak. Only a trained dragon should have been able to break through her shield. Or a natural born dragon.

He scooted back, bumping into the chair behind him. “Who are you? What do you want?”

Damn. He was going to make this hard.


  1. I really like this. I'd definitely read more. Nice job.

    Violet Ingram

  2. One suggestion. At the point where 'Magic poured into her.' consider adding a tiny indication of how it felt to her. It burned, or it made the center of her being tingle, she was flooded with pleasure or pain, or she longed to stay connected.

    She cuts it off, but it would add tension to know if she was fighting its power to allure or repulse.

    Other than that, I loved this. I'd love to know where it's going.

  3. I would remove the word dozens. A person would know if they killed dozens or killed a thousand,too big of a numerical difference.
    How did Ling cut off the magic. Will this be explained later? I also would like to have a better description of the magic pouring into her and what kind of shield she has. Story sounds intriguing and therefore I would read on.

  4. I really like this! I want to keep reading to find out more. I'd like to feel what she feels when his magic hits her though. Like the comment above did it burn? Was there a thread of fear in her when it hit?

    Great work!

  5. Oooh, a young, male human/dragon person and a younger, female dragon hunter! *waggles eyebrows*

    I liked the overall scene. I can see the cafe and the college vibe. The dialog is pretty natural, and I liked the pacing for the most part.

    There were, what seemed to me, a few inconsistencies in the narrative that made it hard to peg Ling as a character. For example, if she's been hunting dragons her entire life, why was there a time she hid from them? Also, she seems very confident in the beginning, very knowledgeable about dragons, but then she makes what looks like a rookie mistake in not adequately shielding herself. It might help to have a better idea of how many years it's actually been since she hunted.

    She's surprised that a young dragon like him has strong magic, but she seems to sense it radiating off of him in the earlier paragraph. The comment about "only a trained dragon should have been able to break through her shield" makes it sound like his breaking her shield was deliberate when he's painted as young and inexperienced and not even knowing what she is.

    I feel like explanations between "damage was done" and his outburst slow down that sequence of action.

    But anyway, some things are vague there and some seem contradictory, so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to think of Ling.

    I do like the hint that he might be a natural dragon and wonder how else people become dragons. Intriguing!

  6. I really like this!
    There's just the right amount of world building, and the protagonist sounds like she's going to be a great person to read about. You do a great job getting us in her head and and getting us to want to keep reading.

    Just a couple of things. When the magic pours into her, what is it like? I'm not getting what it feels like and why it feels strong to her.

    Also, I'm assuming he felt something, too, but you don't give us any indication of it by way of facial expressions or going tense or looking confused, so when he says, "Who you are?" it feels like it's coming out of nowhere.

    These little details just help up the amazing factor and make it more immersive.

  7. This is really well done. I was drawn in to Ling's conflict and her fear when things go differently than she expects.

    My only nitpick is the beginning of the second paragraph. The first is kind of musing about the past. The musing continues into the next paragraph, but then we're in the present, and she's sitting near a dragon. I could have used a little more transition there. Something like, "This was the first dragon she'd seen in years," to let me know that we're diving into the present.

    Otherwise, great job.

  8. Thank you everyone for the great feedback. My coauthor and I are excited by your interest and suggestions.