TITLE: Young Radicals: Lion
GENRE: Lower YA
Bordering Mozambique and Zimbabwe at the tip of South Africa's north east, Kruger National Park is a wildlife reserve bigger than Wales. Thousands of animals roam the plains – eating grass, plants and each other like they've done for millions of years. Rangers patrol the park on bicycles with guns slung over their backs – not to fight off lions or elephants, but to fight off lion and elephant hunters. Fetching a small fortune, lion claws are said to bring power and luck; and elephant tusks, known as ivory, are used for expensive art, piano keys and billiard balls. It's not legal, of course, the ivory trade was banned in 1989. But where there's money to be made there are crooks, and on the western fence of Kruger stood a gang of them, smoking and planning and up to no good.
Most were young black men in T-shirts and bare feet, succumbing to the knowledge they could earn more in a few days of poaching than they could in a few months of farming or laboring. Some held wire clippers while others held spears. Two white men leaned against an ex-army truck, clad in long cotton pants and shirts, presumably for protection against the most dangerous of all African animals – malaria-infested mosquitoes. Both men had guns – one filled with bullets that kill, the other with a dart that stuns. The man with the real gun barked orders at the young men while the owner of the tranquilizer gun watched silently.
Lots of telling, no showing yet. Better to open with immediate scene. Also, ivory coming from elephant tusks is common knowledge. It’s not necessary to explain with two sentences. An exciting set up for a story though. If I were an agent, I would read on to see what happens next.ReplyDelete
I'm not hooked, basicly because this doesn't feel like YA and there is a lot of telling going on.ReplyDelete
Good luck with SA!
Sorry, but this sounds like the introduction to a documentary film. After 250 words, we at least need a character. Not hooked.ReplyDelete
This is interesting info, but not for the beginning of a novel. We need to be dropped "in medias res" and most importantly, with a character. Then you can go back and weave this backstory in as and where appropriate. (It really is interesting stuff!)ReplyDelete
like everyone else has said, all tell no show. it is interesting for someone like me who's never been to africa, but i'm not sure why i'm getting all this detail up front. I think the description is pretty strong, but without a character to give the description meaning, to make me care, I'd pass.ReplyDelete
I know it's all telling, but I actually liked the first paragraph and it drew me in. I do agree that you don't need to explain what ivory is though.ReplyDelete
The second paragraph had great imagery, but I do think you need to make it clear who the main character is.
The first paragraph reads like nonfiction. It's a lot of information upfront with no action. Sorry, but I wouldn't read on.ReplyDelete
Ditto to what everyone says. This setting, this situation, could offer a good plot, but it feels like nonfiction. If the main character is one of these crooks or one of the rangers, we don't know yet. I'd actually love the MC to be a young crook, somehow forced into this situation, or choosing it as an adventure but getting in over his head.ReplyDelete
The first paragraph reads like a report. It starts to get exciting when you introduce the people, the gang by the fence. You have a parallel structure problem though: ing-word, ing-word, and "up to no good." It's jarring. It should be something like "smoking, planning, lollygagging" or some other more appropriate ing word.ReplyDelete
I would want to read more, because I love the idea of a book set in Africa and I know the poaching trade is huge and can be fascinating, but like the other commenters, I agree that I need a character to care about if I'm reading fiction.
I'm with everyone else, but I also find it odd that you assmue that your readers don't know what ivory is, but do know how big Wales is.ReplyDelete
Start with a character.
Sorry, not hooked. Too much exposition and no characters to draw me in.ReplyDelete
The beginning sounds like a history lesson, and even the second paragraph - while it has some action - doesn't pull in the reader.ReplyDelete
Here's where your book starts: Two white men leaned against an ex-army truck, clad in long cotton pants and shirts, presumably ... You can weave in the facts you need later.
The geography lesson and history lesson don't really grab my attention. Start where the action starts, the rest will work its way out in between.ReplyDelete
This read like a prologue to me. It's hard to write an entire novel in the omniscient point of view like this. It can work in just the first scene, but I think it would have to be clearly labeled as a prologue, or given a date and place stamp line to start off with, like we were watching a news story. You might want to check out other books that start with an omniscient POV scene.ReplyDelete
Everyone's already commented on the basic problem. Start with a character in a situation and then tell the story as it happens. If you're explaining something to the reader, it doesn't belong in the book. Stay in the world you're creating.ReplyDelete
Feels like 6th grade Social Studies. I don't get a sense of who the character(s) are. But you have a great sense of your setting - just spread it out some and give the reader someone to care about in the first paragraph.ReplyDelete
Best of luck!
I agree with the comments above - feels like a report rather than fiction. BUT - I haven't seen anything else like this for YA so I think you might have an original idea. Keep at it! I'd be curious to know where you are going - who the MC will be and what will be his (presumably) conflict.ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, I'm not hooked. The first paragraph felt like a section from an article of National Geographic and the second had too much telling and not enough showing.ReplyDelete