Friday, November 28, 2014

(28) YA Fantasy: BEYOND THE WILD

TITLE: Beyond the Wild
GENRE: YA Fantasy

When seventeen-year-old Syra is forced to befriend the enemy, she unexpectedly finds them admirable and uses her powers to heal one, defying her tribe and revealing her secret—she is Natura and her race is at war with humankind. To stop her tribe from killing innocents who don't want to fight in the war, she'll risk banishment forever from her family.

I stretch my mind beneath my feet into the earth’s humming energy and pull. Warmth twists up and into my body, washing away my aches. The trees behind me, the bugs in the grass, and even the birds in the sky, sing with life.

I take a deep breath, smelling dirt, pine and the sharp, musky stench of humans. I gag, turning my head into my shoulder. It has been a year and still the scent hits me hard. The humans stand in a disorganized line ahead of me, waiting for the guards to push the camp’s gate open. It rattles and whines, rocking the compound’s nine-foot high fence.

Over my shoulder, the forest’s treeline reaches into the distance. Running through those trees, dried leaves crunching beneath my feet and fresh air in my lungs, that’s what I want. The Wild. Sighing, my chest stinging, I shift my laundry bag and don’t look back.

A bird above me cries while in flight, swooping down in a burst of white energy. It’s too close. I look to the camp’s guards, cringing.


Its essence ceases as quick as lightning, its death cutting a sharp pain through me. I choke back a gasp as the kids around me glance up. They only see a blue jay, dead, its wings out as it spirals to the ground.

By now, the animals should know not to come this close to camp. Every time they do, the guards shoot them down.

“Syra,” Trax whispers, tugging on my arm.

It’s time.


  1. This first page is beyond compelling. I love your use of the senses, the immediate sense of danger and BIG THINGS HAPPENING that I get. And yet I don't feel like the story is starting in the middle of something intense just for shock value, it really feels like this is where it's supposed to begin. Beautifully done. Wish I could read more of this one!

  2. I had to reread your logline a few times to understand that "the enemy" that you mention is humankind. I think it would be a lot clearer if you stated that in the first sentence, because when I got to where you say she's Natura and they're at war, I was thinking there was a third player in this conflict.

    But I love the imagery in this opening. I can feel Syra's pull toward nature, and I love your descriptions hinting at her magic. I want to keep reading, I want to find out what it's time for!

  3. Hi there,

    I agree with the comments above that the imagery/sensory perception is really well done. But I would also agree that as humans we tend to assume we aren't the villain in the story and so I was a bit confused until my second reading that humankind were the enemy she was speaking about, so I'd recommend either making it CLEAR, or avoiding the question of an enemy in the first page, and letting us wonder what's going on. You've set up a lot of questions here in the first page--I'm a big fan of questions--but it feels like there may be one too many, which tips the scale into confusion for the reader, so I'd consider simplifying a little, to let us get our bearings.

    That said, I'm definitely intrigued, and love the sensory info.


  4. Color me intrigued. Must echo comments above, about the smells/sensory description. Well done, and best of luck!

  5. I agree with the comments above about clarifying the logline and also about the imagery. Great job!

    I have one minor nitpick. I didn't associate "CLACK" with a gunshot. I'm not sure what word would go with a gunshot. Maybe a sound like a thunderclap? Eh, not sure.

    Also, who are the kids with her? I was a bit taken aback when they were mentioned as I got the impression she was alone approaching this camp. I assume the kids are others of her kind since she doesn't associate them with the human smell?

    But, again, great imagery and an intriguing concept. Good luck!

  6. I too thought she was alone, and the presence of children around her made me question my interpretation of the scene. I am unclear about where she is in relation to the camp. I originally got the sense that she was spying on the camp, not part of the line of humans waiting to enter.

  7. Interesting, but it needs a little more I think.

    I actually want to see more description, especially in the opening paragraph. How does it make her feel? Is it sudden or gradual? Would she smell more than just 'dirt' when she sense the ground?

    Although I realize the 'beneath my feet' was to show she was standing, it felt forced to me.

    I'm a little concerned too with the 'sing with life' line. It makes Syra seem a little too innocent--too young.

    I am curious who the guards are guarding, and I'd read further

  8. I agree that the descriptions here are gorgeous and really immerse the reader in the scene! I felt like I was there with Syra.

    The logline confused me, too - in fact, I don't think I truly understood what it meant until I read the others' comments. I completely understand you were working with a word count here, but in a longer pitch, I would definitely be more specific about the players in this war and what the Natura truly are. If we have a clear explanation of that, I think we can fall into the rest of the story with much more ease.

    That being said, this is a super compelling opening, and I definitely want to know why Syra's in the camp and what will happen next... Good luck!