Friday, December 2, 2011

#53 YA Fantasy: Opposition

TITLE: Opposition
GENRE: YA Fantasy

In a world where the Yang Light and the Yin Shadow make up the balance of the Earth, fifteen-year-old Atalanta Raire is an Aerisian, one of a floating continent of people guarding the pair. When the Yang Light is stolen, and her sister goes missing, there is nothing Ata can do but go to the Earth Plane, where a man with a centuries-old revenge is about to make her his bait to the world--a world crumbling to its depths, nonetheless.

The first thing I see when I rise out of hiding is a stumbling sun. It used to be so bright. It used to warm my fingers, my skin, tickle my feet and glow, explode. Now, as I see it again after a full year of darkness, it trips in its path and dips low over the horizon, spilling bucketfuls of light.

Walls pressed around me before. Walls of flame, the Circle, fire licking my conscience and sanity until I went insane.

Insane, like everyone else.

Eisa—the first adult we've seen in a year—came to us today, finally, she unlocked the Circle for us. I have never felt so lonely. There were a hundred girls trapped with me.

They stopped crying in two days.

They stopped talking in a week.

And they stopped thinking, stopped trying, in a month.

Every time I looked at them, they would stare at me with glassy eyes, reflecting nothing but my own misery. They would pick solberries as silently as the dead. They acted like the dead. I tried to shake one of them out of their trance once, Laurie, and all I felt was cold.

They are like snow, falling and splattering onto the ground, melting away into a glorious puddle of white. They are beautiful, but they chose to stop living.

Watching the sun, the sky, the birds, memories from before the attack cripple me. I close my eyes, bathing in the light.

Then, someone screams.


  1. I think I like this...haha. I think Fantasy is super hard to condense into a logline. You might want to simplify it more, take out the words that we don't know anything about as much as you can. We don't need to know she's Aerisian, just tell us what that means. I'm also not entirely sure I understand what Atalanta is after from the logline.

    I LOVE your first paragraph. It reminds me of something Laini Taylor would write (LOVE HER). The description is brilliant.

    But the rest of the 250 words is also brilliant description and I find myself wondering what it all means. We don't really get a clue so I'm slightly confused. The writing is brilliant so I'd keep reading, but you might want to clarify what's going on.

  2. I agree with Kelley, your writing is beautiful. I can tell you put a lot of time into choosing your words. But your excerpt is confusing. We're opening to a situation that wasn't really introduced in the line and is a bit vague. Was she kidnapped? In prison? What's going on and what happened before? Of course, I sure you go on to that in the following pages, but for this first bit, I found myself re-reading passages trying to get more clarity, and that's not so good.

    I would keep reading, though, because of your skilled writing and to figure out what's happening. Nice job, and good luck!

  3. This is beautiful writing. I agree that I'm wondering why she's been in hidden away with the others (what does she think about that? Is it something that she knew would happen? ), but I'm sure that will be answered in later pages. I'd keep reading.

    Good luck :)

  4. Wow, really high stakes and some really lovely prose. I'd cut a lot of the logline-- we don't need to know ALL that at first. Just a nice little tease, using some of that pretty language.

  5. Your concept is fascinating! I didn't find the logline too long, but that's me. I agree with the others' comments. I also got confused with the excerpt. I loved the opening paragraph, but the action stops and I felt like things jumped around quite a bit (though the writing is beautiful!). Maybe give us the backstory of the trapped girls after we get to know your MC first.

  6. Even though I was a little confused with the beginning, the writing was so beautiful, I would have kept reading anyway! I love the paragraph comparing the girls to snow.

  7. Hey everyone! Thank you so much for your feedback! :) I appreciate it a lot.

    Yes, what's going on is actually explained in the next few paragraphs, but because of word count, ya know, it had to but cut. :]

    Thanks again! You all rock!

  8. Interesting language. I'm a bit wary because I'm used to this kind of prose being mostly figurative, but then you describe the sun as literally stumbling, which kind of boggled my mind.

    Points of confusion that caught me along the way:

    - Insane, like everyone else.

    This made me wonder whether an insane person notices that other people are insane. It's already implied that the narrator was the last to go mad, which is something interesting to mull over. But "like everyone else" made it sound as though it had happened to everyone at the same time.

    finally, she unlocked the Circle for us. I have never felt so lonely.

    Because they're adjacent sentences in the same paragraph, I thought that the loneliness referred to the moment of freedom, which seemed strange. On a reread it seems to apply to the narrator's time in the Circle instead, but this could be clearer.

    - They stopped crying in two days.

    Again, some tense opacity here. I think you mean "in the first two days after they were trapped" (seeing as how Elsa arrived today) but it could also sound like they kept crying until two days after they got out of the Circle.

    Something that I find creepy (which may be good or bad, depending on your intent) is how the hundred other girls are clustered into a unified "they." There's no individual difference -- they apparently all follow the same insanity timeline -- and the only individual trait picked out is a single name. I would've liked a specific memory to go with her as well, just to bring her to life as once a unique person.

    - They are like snow, falling and splattering onto the ground, melting away into a glorious puddle of white. They are beautiful, but they chose to stop living.

    Just to help with the transition from in-Circle to post-, I'd add "Now" or something at the start of this paragraph. It almost sounded like something the narrator had thought inside the Circle, since their numb behavior could fall under this oblique description.

    - Watching the sun, the sky, the birds, memories from before the attack cripple me.

    Memories from before the attack would presumably be good ones, right? Not sure why they'd be crippling.

  9. I really love that your first paragraph paints a picture of a wholly different world. Your description of a failing sun is beautiful, and I wonder what happened that, just in the course of a year, it has changed so drastically. My brain is working and I am grateful. :)

    I wouldn't mind trading some of the beautiful descriptions on the first page for an explanation of why the girls were there, and why they'd been rescued. Your writing is so nice I'm sure you could do it in just a couple lines. Nevertheless, it's your book, not mine, and I'd be interested to keep reading just to enjoy the prose a bit longer. I'm sure the action/explanation kicks up soon. :)

    Beautiful work! So much luck to you!

  10. It's hard to open with another, done-a-million times description of the sun or moon, how the sky appears overhead, etc. but you did it well! The imagery and poetic language work very well in this excerpt.

    My hesitation would be on the content. It's a tricky line with YA -- the "Y" stands for "young", but nowadays "young" is getting older and older. I feel the despondency, void, hopelessness, etc of this passage might take it out of the YA realm.

    Per the cult of "first-page action", I would just point out that the nothing really happens on this first page.

    Nice, though! Good luck

  11. From the logline, and even from the first page, this sounds like a beautifully complex world.

    The opening scene is very dark, and I thought the writing itself is lovely. I especially like the description of the stumbling sun.

    I did, however, feel a little lost. I've read over this many times now, so I finally think I have a grasp of what's going on. I think this is because of the lack of sensory detail--there's plenty of visual, but none of any other sense. Adding them would help transport the reader to the scene better.

    But again, nice world-building and beautiful writing! Good luck!

  12. You're obviously a gifted writer with a way with words, but like most people have said, the story and world you plunge us into with your first page is a bit confusing. The problem with excerpts like this is that its really only the first page and so its hard to judge the rest of the work based on it, but with writing like yours, I think its ULTRA important to make sure the writing is always in service to the story and not the other way around. No matter how beautiful your prose (and yours IS beautiful!) it can never be allowed to get away from you and its true purpose of advancing your story as best as possible.

    My other caveat is that when introducing an 'outside the box' story and world and poetic prose like yours - you need to be sure that EVERYTHING is as polished as possible. Don't give agents or readers any chance to say no or put it down. Your logline is a bit confusing not in terms of content even, but just how you phrase things. Your line ' an Aerisian, one of a floating continent of people guarding the pair,' doesn't parse right. You're describing the Aerisians as floating continents basically. Maybe think about rephrasing is as something like ' an Aerisian, a race who guard the pair from atop the floating continents they call home.'

    I don't think you need a comma after 'When the Yang Light is stolen' and 'where a man with a centuries old revenge' rings false too. Maybe 'Where a man with a centuries-old thirst for revenge' instead?

    And finally, I think a lot of people might be confused by what making her his bait to the world means, exactly. Is he framing her for stealing the light? Is he using her to set a trap? I'm not sure what you're trying to say with that. Similarly with 'a world crumbling to its depths, nonetheless...' - I THINK you're trying to say something like while their world crumbles to ruins around them, regardless of what everyone else is doing? It's honestly just a little confusing, and I think you need to work to clarify that a bit more.

  13. You have a lovely voice and beautiful writing. However, on this opening page I'm a little lost as to what's happening.

    Did the girls stop crying, talking, etc. after they were trapped or freed? Why was Ata insane? Where did the sun go for a year? Why did we change tense present to past and then present again? I'm not sure which question is most important and so I can't be properly hooked.

    I loved the opening about the sun. I was intrigued by that one question--why isn't the sun bright anymore, and what's happened? Maybe you could skip from there to "Watching the sun, the sky, the birds.." and take whatever action is on the second page and move to the first? I'm hooked on this single question.

    I wonder if the same approach might help with the logline. I don't have a solid understanding of Atalanta's goals, choice, and consequences here. She wants to save the Yang Light, but why is she bait and to whom? It makes it sound as though the world is doomed anyway, so if she doesn't succeed it doesn't matter. I need to know that it matters.

    Lovely, lovely voice, and I think with some tightening and focusing here this would be just beautiful. I had to admit I have a thing for floating continents. Love them!

  14. Thanks again, everyone, for your critiques. :)

    @Amanda Sun and Kalen I just want to clarify something: This excerpt is actually a memory/recollection of a previous attack on Aeris, and what's happening right now is another attack and it's like a parallel comparison, if you know what I mean. That's why she still has to save the world, haha. :)

    Thanks again!

  15. I bid 15 pages!

  16. #53 OPPOSITION

    Logline: Your word choices are evocative, but there is some awkwardness in the pitch that throws me, makes meaning unclear. I’d love to have a more straightforward explanation of a character and her stakes. It’s a delicate balance, to impart tone and plot, and I think you’ve gone heavier on tone than you need.

    Line notes: What is a centuries-old revenge? Do you mean vendetta? Grudge? I’ve never seen revenge used in a phrase like that. Threw me.
    In the fourth from last paragraph, is the narrator addressing someone? Sharing this as a memory? The insertion of the name Laurie here is vague – did you intend to name the girl the narrator shook? If so, I think it is misplaced.

    Overall: I see that you’re building mood with these opening paragraphs, creating an amorphous, vague scene of madness with some lovely language, but I’ll admit to being lost here. That very well may be the point, but it’s an unsettling feeling, especially when I have so little else to go on at this point. I’d keep reading, looking for some more information and character to latch onto.

    Best of success.