Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March Secret Agent #37

TITLE: The Moth Girl
GENRE: YA - Fabulist

It was only a month between the first symptoms and the day they found my unconscious body floating three feet above the ground. I was fifteen. Those early symptoms were nothing to me, minor aches and a vague feeling of lightness that I brushed away like dust. How was I to recognize the storm of disease bearing down upon me?

One of my track teammates later told me I reminded her of a magician’s assistant floating above a table. But there was no magician, no trick, only the rebellion of my own cells. I try to picture it: my hovering teenage body, my limbs and hair hanging down like the roots of a pulled-up flower. It seems more likely, knowing what I now know, that my arms and legs lifted up toward the sky, but still I envision them dangling toward the earth as if to will me closer to it.

In the summer leading up to that fall, I spent my afternoons running and hanging around with my best friend, Smilla. There was a long finger of forest that stretched from behind my backyard all the way into the center of town, a secret passageway through the heart of suburbia, and I ran the length of it nearly every day. I knew each detail of that trail, each crumbling section of old stone wall, every initial carved inside every heart on the tall white pines.

13 comments:

  1. Love the voice here and the language is gorgeous. My only complaint is that it's all backstory and I want to know what's happening right now. I'm hooked and would keep reading with the hope that I'd be dropped into the action in the next paragraph. For that purpose maybe some of this should come later, after we're inserted into the story and more invested.

    Hope this helps. Good luck.

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  3. I forgot to say that the genre: Fabulist. I...don't know what that is.

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  4. You are a great writer, but I'm not hooked with this particular excerpt. I think because it starts with backstory. Consider weaving these details in later. Start with present time. Good job!

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  5. I agree, you are naturally a good writer and I would keep reading on. And yea, what is Fabulist? Sounds like magical realism to me in the first few paragraphs, but who knows, I'm not cool anymore! Good luck.

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  6. I like this a lot. I'm intrigued by the concept and opening with the floating body image. Have you considered starting on the day she's found floating? That seems like the day everything changes for your MC. A few tightening suggestions: cut things like the "I was 15" sentence and "teenage body" phrase. They don't read naturally and sound like the author trying to tell us something as opposed to the character telling the story. I'd also get rid of the question at the end of the first paragraph. The last paragraph is all back story, and it's way too early in the novel for that. The premise seems fantastic from what I can glean of it. Good luck with this!


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  7. The long stretch of back story is my only issue here, that and I have no idea about the genre. But I love the wording, the sentences. If the rest of the MS has this beautiful language, I'm in.

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  8. I'm intrigued. Girl wakes up floating, very Kafka-esque. The writing is beautiful. Maybe more conflict? I'm hesitant to say that on only 250 words, but there it is. I'm defiantly reading on.

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  9. I love the first few lines. So much voice! The second paragraph follows nicely, and the magician's table mention is beautiful and haunting. By the third paragraph this is reading to me like an older person looking back on their teenage years. Just a note to possibly work in a current time/place so we know our YA character is say only months from this event vs and adult looking back (which would make me doubt the age category).

    I looked up fabulist since others were confused and see it relates to fables. I would suggest using a more conventional term when querying, even if yours is correct for what you're doing. Perhaps, Fantasy or Fable Retelling.

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  10. First of all, this is beautiful writing. The story line promises to be intriguing and I want to read it. I do wonder about the age of your MC now. Is she looking back and telling the story as an adult? Also, this feels a little like a prologue. I, personally, like a well done prologue, but I know for a debut novel they often discourage it.
    I loved this. Any critique was my really having to dig and be picky. I wish I could read this and I hope one day I will.

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  11. Don't hate meApril 2, 2016 at 11:27 AM

    I would read on. It was delightful. Like Jennifer I'd have to nitpick to find problems. I don't mind that backstory because it is so nice.

    I didn't know what fabulist was either. When I looked it up it said "a person who composes or relates fables" so I'm assuming this is a fable type story, yes?

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  12. As everyone else has said, your writing is excellent. Gorgeous narration, a strong voice, and good rhythm. I don't have an issue with the fact that this seems like backstory--at least not for the first two paragraphs. Your third paragraph, however, went a little too far back. To start in the past, beginning by reflecting on this moment of change, and then go further back? It uprooted my sense of where the story is going.

    I don't know the overarching structure, here. It may be that you started with the floating incident to give the reader a hint of what's to come and then flashback for a significant time. That could conceivably work, but it's hard to tell without reading it in full. It might also be that you intend to focus more on that floating event or that you intend to jump to the present. In either of those cases that third paragraph may be better off cut. You'll have to judge for yourself, and it may be that it works perfectly well in the full context of what you have written, not chopped off at 250 words.

    Thanks for the entry!

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  13. Great first line -- sucks us right in. I didn't mind the backstory aspect as a few people seemed to -- I thought it set a definite tone, which I assumed would come into play with the current conflict. I loved your writing, but a few nitpicky things -- I would cut "like dust" and leave it with brushed away. Also, I might take out "of a pulled up flower" and just leave it with your hair hanging down like roots. I think it makes the second sentence stronger, playing with the connection to the land. Great opening -- I want to keep reading!

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