Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are You Hooked? #1

TITLE: Defender of the Kingdom
GENRE: MG Fantasy/Adventure

She was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. Until her daughters followed her out of the coach. She was swathed in green velvet, brocade, and satin and underarm rings stained the tight bodice. About eighty ells of bobbin lace, which caught on the coach door handle as she strode forward, engulfed her gown. If the coachman had not caught her, she would have sprawled on the cobblestones of the lane surrounding our village green. I noted that the grass was the exact color of her gown as I tried to hide a smirk. The largest peacock feather ever adorned her velvet cap and it dipped over her face, ending at the large wart on her chin. Her eyes were daggers as they glanced my way. I tried not to tremble as I turned toward the daughters.

The girls were near my own age of fourteen – one maybe a bit younger, the other a year or two older. They both wore satin. The shorter one was in pink and the tall one in blue. The pink gown was covered in almost as much lace as the mother’s, but the blue gown was simple. Compared to the other two. The girls both fanned themselves furiously with lace covered fans, but the eyes that glanced over the fans looked friendlier. Slightly. Well, that was something.

I looked down at my own linen kirtle that matched the embroidered coif on my head and at my father’s simple doublet and breeches.


  1. I liked the detailed descriptions of the dresses, but I'd prefer to see those details spread out or a little later. I think getting into the action is important, so perhaps keep the description of the mother's dress,add some action, then bring in details on the daughter's dresses later.

    I'd change the forth sentence and move "engulfed her gown" right after "bobbin lace." Also, I didn't know what "ells" were. Is that an embroidery term?

    I liked the first sentence...I was intrigued.

  2. While the description of the women is vivid, I wondered how important they were, and why the opening focused on them. I wanted to know what the MC'S connection to this woman and her daughters was. I got a Cinderella vibe, and wondered if the MC was the prince character, or perhaps the Cinderella character. So, in effect, this opening doesn't tell me anything about the person the story is about.

    Perhaps, rather than focusing on tbe women's attire, find a way for the MC to interact with these women as they make their grand enterance, so that we get to see and learn about the MC who, after all, is who the story is about.

  3. You open with how ugly the three females are, but the woman's chin wart is the only description of their actual features. Unless you're implying ugly clothes makes you ugly.

    FYI: Large sections of text about clothing (especially in an opening) do tend to dissuade a good portion of male readers--if you are trying to reach the widest audience.

    Also, if this is Cinderella inspired, the girls are supposed to ugly on the inside rather than the outside. I really hope it is not ugly=evil.

    Anyway, I agree with the above. I want the MC to participate in the scene rather than simply narrate it -- even if you do paint a very detailed picture. :)

  4. I'm troubled by the ugly comment for a middle Grade Novel. It seems to be permissive of bullying language. The description is good but I would rather you start with action and let me know and care about the main character. One more note. You overuse the word was. If you're able to use other words in place of was it would read better in my opinion. Good luck moving forward

  5. I did enjoy the picture you painted of the woman's dress and the use of "ell" as a measurement tells me we're more or less in Medieval to Renaissance times.

    I'm not a big fan of sentence fragments unless they're necessary to add emphasis. There are three in this short section and only the last one ("Slightly.") really meets my expectations. Unfortunately, that's enough to make me stop reading, as I'd expect the style in the rest of the MS to follow this sample.

    It's a matter of taste, though, and there will certainly be others who enjoy it.

  6. You have some nice description here, but the sentence structure is all very similar. (She was. . . The girls were. . .) I think it would help to vary it up some to create better flow. I'm not sure I would keep reading because of this, but this is an issue which can certainly be fixed.

  7. Although I respect the comment about bullying, I like the opening sentence. It catches my attention. I think you could solve both the problems of bullying and that of only describing the dress, by having the speaker be fascinated by the woman’s appearance. The speaker is not thinking of the woman as ugly to be cruel but with interest. You may want to use some actual photographs and practice describing the faces to make the facination of her ugliness real.

    There is a problem with the connection between “until her daughters stepped out” followed by detailed description of her dress. It seems that if they are even uglier, the speaker would be focused on their description first. Please add a comma to “The largest peacock feather ever, adorned. . .”

    You have caught my attention however, you’ll have to work hard and fast to show me how this is a different Cinderella story. I’d love to read one from the prince’s point of view.

    Good luck. I actually like the sentence fragments but again, agree it is a matter of taste. Because it’s first person, I believe the voice more with the way it is written. We don’t think in complete sentences.

  8. I think it best to start with the mc. I like your use of description of the fabric to set the period but linen doesn't say "poor."

    'Smirk' jumped out at me. I think of it as conceited or smug expression. Not the best for the mc. I'd like to know what moves the mc - what grounds her - instead of being limited to a snarky response of the arriving women.

  9. Well, your first two lines made me laugh out loud. I don't think fiction needs to follow the rules of real life in regards to bullying,etc. It's okay to be funny. I was intrigued about the blue dress and wondered why that daughter's dress was more simple...After all the description of the clothes though I would like to see this go in a different direction fast so I an see what is up with the MC