Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Critique by Adam Heine: Dragon Girl

TITLE: Dragon Girl
GENRE: Fantasy
ENTRY: #23

Pitch: Dragons disappeared a long time ago. When they wake from a 150 year hibernation they release magic into a world that has forgotten magic existed. One dragon’s magic pushes him to expose their existence to humans. One girl is ridiculed for believing that dragons are intelligent creatures instead of plague-ridden beasts. Both struggle to control their new magical powers and break free from the bonds of family oppression to save dragons from extinction, again.

Day 1. After the Long Sleep

Dragons didn’t dream.

But Gregor was trapped in a world that couldn’t possibly be real.

The human, Jason had told him all about dreams. Human minds needed them to store their memories. Dragons, with their six minds, stored and analyzed information continuously. Only Seers had visions, and they were rare. [THERE ARE INTRIGUING HINTS OF THE WORLD HERE THAT MAKE ME WANT TO KNOW MORE. HOWEVER, I FIRST WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT GREGOR AND THIS WORLD HE’S TRAPPED IN. I WANT TO *CARE* ABOUT GREGOR BEFORE I CAN CARE ABOUT THE WORLD.]

Gregor caught a warm thermal and flew through an impossibly brilliant blue sky. In the distance lurked cirrus clouds, black instead of white. Faint rainbows rippled through the wisps, making them appear more fluid than mist. [THE ITALICS MAKE IT SEEM LIKE THIS IS A VISION OR A FLASHBACK—SOMETHING DIFFERENT FROM GREGOR’S MUSINGS IN THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH. THAT CAN BE CONFUSING FOR THE READER AT THE BEGINNING OF A NOVEL.]

It wasn’t a vision. The smooth glide of wind over his wings felt all too real, but his last memory was of entering the lake containing the Source of Magic, along with the rest of his coven. They all slept at the bottom of the lake.

His knowledge made no difference, he couldn’t break his mind free to see the real world.

Nutmeg, a human spice, filled his nostrils. His power trying to tell him something important.

He tilted his left wing to follow the scent. Ever since his power had manifested a year ago, shortly after he turned sixteen, his sense of smell became his guide. Sometimes it warned him of danger, and other times it led him to safety.

He’d followed the tantalizing scent of lilac to the Source of Magic when his coven searched for a way to survive the plague. A hundred and twenty-seven dragons had followed him.

He still hoped he’d done the right thing.


I love the world this is setting up, and the writing is clean and strong. My one major critique is in my second comment above. Starting a novel is a tricky thing, because the reader doesn’t know a thing about your characters, your story, or your world. It’s even trickier in fantasy where you have to convey how your world differs from the normal world without infodumping and losing reader interest entirely.

You’ve done a great job not infodumping (my first comment above is more a warning than a critique). Now, you need to make sure that you ground the reader before switching up the time or scene. As written, it’s unclear whether Gregor is remembering something that happened to get him where he is now or whether it’s action that IS happening now, and that can be hard for the reader to track.

I will say that, if I were an agent, I would still eat this up. Good job and good luck! --

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