Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First 750 #1

TITLE: Other
GENRE: YA Fantasy/Romance

Agony shooting through every limb. Noiseless screams in her throat. She fainted to escape a pain that would otherwise drive her mad. She woke, still stiff with pain, and realized with rising horror what she had become. And wished that she had gone mad rather than face this.

She fled the world of humans, no longer one of them. After a year of blind and hopeless wandering, she came upon the forest, a secluded place where the Other World was very close. She ended her journey there.

For the first few years she searched and struggled for a way to restore her former self. Fruitless. Sometimes disastrous, wracking her with worse pain and endangering her life. Eventually she gave up on that as well.

She gave up on everything but bitterness.


Everything changed on the seventeenth day.

The day began like any other, when Alain came downstairs to discover he was nearly alone in the house. There was only Gustav, polishing the silver in the kitchen, and Maria, on her way out to the market to purchase the roast for tonight's dinner.

"Master Nicolaus has gone to call on Sir Charles," Gustave informed Alain as he examined a piece of cutlery. From his tone he might as well have added, And his daughter.

"And Father and Henri?" Alain asked. They would have gone somewhere together; they always did. Henri didn't trust their father to make business decisions without him, believing him an over-lenient creditor and the most gullible of bargainers.

"They have gone to the riverport." Gustav looked up from the silver. "Would you like something for breakfast, sir? I might remind you that you neglected to eat yesterday morning."

"Oh." Alain glanced about the kitchen. He hadn't meant to miss breakfast; he never did, but sometimes a book drew him in so fully that when he finally sighed and shut the cover, he found that the morning had passed. Today he had been puzzling out a passage on the qualities of courage in Hutton's "On Virtue."

His brothers teased him mercilessly that he could be so absent-minded, so removed from the real world. Maybe when he left and began his studies at the university, he would finally find others who didn't think this was odd. Seventeen more days.

Gustav cleared his throat. "Oh," Alain said again, apologetic. Speaking of absent-minded. "I'll just have bread and jam."

"Hm." Gustav could express his disapproval very eloquently in brief noises. Nevertheless, he prepared a plate of sliced bread with a square of butter and a bowl of jam, as carefully arranged as if it were a seven course meal. Alain thanked him and ate at the small wooden table in the kitchen, something else Gustav disapproved of. Silly, when he could see it was the most convenient place. Alain had started on a second slice when there came a knock from the front door.

Gustave put down his polishing rag with a sigh. Alain stopped him. "Don't worry about it. I'll answer it."

"Hm. If it pleases you, sir."

Alain pushed back his chair and left the kitchen. On his way down the corridor the knock sounded again, an insistent rap.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," Alain murmured. What could be so urgent at this time of day? He came to the door and pulled it open.

He was greeted with the sight of de Montmercy, one of Father's clerks, in a state of high agitation. His clothing was in disarray as if he had dressed in a hurry, his wispy graying hair strayed about everywhere, and his eyes appeared ready to pop from his head.

"Is your father here?" he asked breathlessly, and hurried inside without waiting for an answer.

"Wh- no, not at the moment," Alain said. "He and Henri are at the riverport; I expect they'll be back before noontime."

De Montmercy paced the front hall, his shoes clacking furiously against the tile. "I must speak with him as soon as he returns. It is a matter...most urgent...quite unexpected...a serious matter indeed..."

Alain shut the front door, thoroughly alarmed now. "What in the world has happened?"

A headshake sent the wispy hair flying. "No, no, this is a matter for your father to hear first. Might I wait here for his return?"

"Yes, of course." Alain swallowed the dread that was rising in his throat and directed de Montmercy toward the study. "Please, make yourself comfortable. I'll send my father in as soon as he returns."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. In the first section, you might say who 'she' is, and what she has become. It read like the jacket blurb which is generally a tease to get you to read the book. But I was reading the book, and it was disappointing me. I wanted more.

    On the other hand, it is written well. It has feeling and emotion. There are good word choices here. You created tone and mood, which all prompted me to continue reading. Consider saying who she is and what she has become, certainly who she is, even if it's just a first name. If you had given me that, I would have been a happy camper thrilled to read on. As is, I was frustrated.

    The second half didn't draw me in at all. It was too mundane and too far removed from the promise of the first section. I would suggest you forgot about all the family info. It really slows this down. Tell us about family members when we actually meet them.

    Perhaps consider starting this section with the knock on the door. And then show the scene. Almost all of it is told. You say de Montmercy is in a state of high agitation. Rather than saying that, show it. Use dialogue and action. Show him pacing, running his fingers through his hair, stuttering as he speaks, whatever, but showing will give it more life. That's the point where it starts to get interesting again.

    750 words is roughly three pages. That far in, I should know who the mc is, what he wants, how he plans to get it, and who or what stands in his way. After reading the whole thing, I only know who your MC is, and I thought he was a woman until you said "He didn't want to miss breakfast." I also don't know where your story takes place. I don't know the time frame, and I don't know where it's headed. If you get rid off all the family stuff and all the talk about breakfast, you'll have more room to answer some of these questions, which are generally the things that keep people reading.

    Best of luck with it!

  3. The first section had me at a loss as to the identity of 'she'. Also, it would have been nice to know what kind of creature she had transformed into.

    The second section about the family I liked and would have read on more from there.

  4. If that first bit is a prologue, take it out. It does nothing to explain or enhance the actual story.

    This line, "What could be so urgent at this time of day? " threw me because if he had missed breakfast it was probably around lunchtime or just before. That time of day is just fine to be doing something urgent.

    "Everything changed on the seventeenth day." should also be taken out. If we're to read about the first 17 days, we don't need to know just yet that everything changes on that last one.

    There isn't much in the way of the senses here. Try adding in what things smell/look/feel/taste like. You've got sound in there a bit, but even that can be enhanced more.

  5. I like your writing style, and it fits well with the era and setting of your story. As someone else mentioned, starting later on does make sense. Why does the guy at the door make him nervous? Play up more emotion here at the start. Also, I'm really confused as to the first bit, before the break. It must come up later, but it's in such contrast that it's a jolt to settle into the rather mundane reality of the guy reading through breakfast :)

  6. I thought the opening section was very confusing. With all the incomplete sentences and the mystery of "she" I had absolutely no idea where the story would go.

    The following paragraphs/story hardly seemed connected, though I'm sure they must be. There's a bit too much explaining going on, and no hook. "Oh," is followed by a lengthy description, an "info dump" if you will, to acquaint us with who the MC is and what his current life story is. It might be better to cut all of that out and get right to the point, answer the questions of "What are we doing here?" and "Why should we care?"