Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are You Hooked? #6

TITLE: Choosing Imperfect

For twin sisters, Lyron and Eryl, perfection is unattainable. And in Elysium, imperfection is punishable by death. Genetic anomalies—one mute, one blind—the sisters face a hopeless verdict. But Eryl is redeemed by her ability to see the intentions of others. Lyron, however, is cast from Elysium as her inability to communicate overshadows her ability to hear unspoken thoughts. Rescued by those assigned to kill her, Lyron learns incriminating secrets about Elysium. She is forced to choose between rescuing her sister, or facing death to reveal the truth to a nation living and dying under a lie.

 I lay quietly in the semi-darkness of the room I shared with my sister. My breathing was finally beginning to slow, though the nightmare still clung to the edges of my consciousness. I bit my lip, forcing myself to focus on a more present pain—one outside my mind. My throat was raw from the sounds I'd been making, but Eryl was used to my wordless screams. I pulled myself up on one elbow, watching her sleep. She hadn't stirred and her arm was thrown carelessly over her head, her hand half-open as if she were holding something invisible in her palm.   

Gathering the blankets around me, I pulled myself up against the wall. It was no use trying to go back to sleep. I'd only dream it all over again—their clasped hands, fingers entwined, and their blood. There was always so much blood.   The light of the moon fell through the window and I examined the rectangle patch of light that fell across the floor, tracing its shape with my mind. Each edge was perfect—straight, clean, well-defined. I itched to throw my hand into the light, casting a five-fingered shadow and screwing up that perfect pool of moonlight.   

I hated perfect things.    


I hated the illusion of perfect things. Because there is no such thing as perfect, though I would never say as much aloud. A person could be shot for that, or worse, released.


  1. I'm wondering about the muteness of your narrator - if she can't vibrate her vocal cords to speak, how can she scream (even wordlessly)? Can she communicate at all? It seems from your logline that she cannot. I guess I'm confused as to how she maintains a relationship with her sister or how she'll form future relationships once exiled.

    There are some things here that really sang for me. I love the image of throwing her hand into moonlight to break up the shadow. I also like the image of the sister holding something invisible in her palm. Those are good bits of writing.

    I don't like the title. "Choosing Imperfection" would work grammatically, unless you've got a character named/nicknamed Imperfect somewhere in the story (in which case, ignore me).

    Despite the things I mentioned, I'd read on. I like the idea, the images, and the tone you've set. I'm intrigued.

  2. I quite like this, but it seems more like the start to a later chapter, not the first. Not enough happens for me and it's too vague, and I thought waking up and dreams were a no-no for the beginning of a novel. But I'm intrigued by the last line. (PS it should be rectangular, not rectangle.)

  3. Forgot to say, the premise sounds really interesting :)

  4. I love your premise. REALLY love it. I'm feeling like this intro was a wee bit slow for me. However, I would certainly keep reading because I love the premise.

  5. I love your premise. REALLY love it. I'm feeling like this intro was a wee bit slow for me. However, I would certainly keep reading because I love the premise.

  6. I had a slight problem with the term 'screwing up' which, to me at least, read as modern and local, not Elysium and dystopian, if that makes sense. I do love the plot and would read on despite not really being hooked due to how slow and languorous the writing is. It's great writing, but as a first 250 words it's not a hook so much as just another chapter. I'd almost like to see the last sentence split up into two shorter, harsher sentences.

  7. Perhaps Eryl "feels" those intentions? Making me work out who is blind, who is mute might be okay, but making it tricky-difficult by having the blind twin "see" seems unnecessarily complicated to me rather than intriguing.

    You do a great job with scene-setting and narrative, but I guess I want either more action or more explanation right here. Without the logline, I wouldn't be hooked, even though I loved the moonlight imagery.

  8. I would keep reading because in just 250 words you've managed to make me care for these two sisters. Nice work.

  9. Aside from the confusion for me between death to imperfects and Lyron being cast out (instead) from Elysium, I enjoyed the premise and logline.

    Okay I'm going to get super picky here. just slap me. Moonlight coming through a window and lighting the floor would cast a trapoziod due to perspective and distance from the sill to the top of the window to the floor. So, it's a perfect trapazoid, but again it depends where you're sitting as to whether a trapazoid would form, or just a four straight edged not parrellel on any side box was formed. Sorry, I'm ready for my slap now.

    Other than that, your premise is intriguing and your character and scene development is right on.

  10. I love the mood and tone of this novel, but I wonder at how you will make using the mute sister your MC POV workable. Seems like you have your work cut out for you, especially since I'm uncertain how the sisters could have any sort of relationship without being able to communicate.

  11. I loved the premise and I would keep reading. I loved the fact that both your characters are imperfect in big ways, and the challenges their imperfections will bring on will be big ones. That's what will keep me reading.

    Having said that, if there had been no logline, I probably wouldn't read on. "Wordless screams" is not enough, I think, to convey that the MC is mute. ANd at the end, she says she would never say that aloud, implying she 'can' speak. Perhaps find a way to say she is mute and the sister is blind somewhere in your opening.

    And as others have said, it is a slow opening. Nothing happens. Perhaps start with an event that shows these two sisters for who they are. Making your world and your characters known through a scene with action and dialogue would be much stronger than explanation.

    Good luck with this. I'm sitting here imagining all the potential this has!

  12. I also found the opening too slow for my tastes. I love your description - it's very rich and evokes strong images in my mind - but I want more from this on the opening page of a YA dystopian.

    I found I had to refer back to your logline in order to figure out which sister was blind and which was mute because of your word choice in places. I think with a little tightening, you could totally nail those attributes without resorting to telling.

    I think this story has a lot of potential.

  13. I love your premise. However, I also thought it started slow and didn't tell the reader much. I would read more though, because of the premise.

  14. Neat premise! But like some others wondered, I'm not sure how she can make screams -- wordless or otherwise -- if she's mute. Do her vocal chords work? *Can* she speak?

    The writing in this is lovely, but I didn't feel this scene was doing enough to earn the beginning of the story. Is there anything happening here, other than someone doing a lot of thinking?