Friday, November 30, 2012

(48) YA Fantasy: The Fatal Crown

TITLE: The Fatal Crown
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Taela does what she must to survive, but she doesn’t think of herself as a murderer. When her sister is executed for treason, Taela vows to avenge her death--even if it means killing the kingdom’s only hope for salvation. Taela discovers the truth about her sister’s death, and it forever ties her destiny to the very man she wants to destroy.

Taela wasn’t a thief, not usually, but sometimes folks had to do unpleasant things for the sake of the people they loved. Like keep secrets or steal from their own families.

She slipped into the cool darkness of the storage shed and quietly latched the door. She took a deep breath to calm herself. At least, after tonight, it would finally be over. She would fulfill her promise, no matter what it cost or how much it frightened her.

Ribbons of moonlight shone through the slats of the old wooden structure, falling across the crates, casks and barrels stacked around her. She had to be quick. She rummaged through a crate, grabbed a handful of dried apricots and few shriveled potatoes and stuffed them into her pack.

Standing on tiptoe, she reached up to the top shelf for the stoneware crock that held last season’s summerbeans. It felt smooth and cool in her hands. She slid the container to the edge and eased it off the shelf, but it was heavier than she expected. Before she could get a good grip, the crock slipped, fell to the dirt floor and shattered with a crash. She jumped back as shards of pottery and beans scattered at her feet. Blast it! Probably just woke the whole village.

She grabbed her pack and scrambled toward the weathered door, but the sound of footsteps approaching stopped her. Too late. She ducked into the shadows.


  1. I like this. Good tension, sympathetic character, nice voice.

    The only thing I found odd was that she'd be fulfilling her promise 'after tonight', yet stealing food seems to be more like something she'd have to do periodically. But that might just be my ignorance talking.

    It was also interesting/intriguing/disconcerting that you mention she does these things for people she loves, yet she steals from her family. Does that mean she doesn't love her family? That might make some people less sympathetic towards her.

  2. I really like how active this opening scene is. The tension is palpable and the first paragraph is a great intro to her character.

    I guess I maybe wonder why she needs the beans as well as the other food but perhaps they are important. I also wasn't sure that the italics were needed. This is close 3rd person pov anyway.

    I'd certainly stick with this to find out what happens and who is coming though!

  3. Love the line, "Ribbons of moonlight..." I would omit the second sentence and let readers learn about Taela's secrets and stealing through "showing" scenes.

  4. I agree with Shannon's comments but definitely keep the first line--very intriquing.

    This scene is well-written and vivid. Great job!

    In the pitch, you should add "to" before survive. Maybe you can ask Authoress to fix it before Tuesday...

  5. I saw this page during one of the Secret Agent contests, and I really like the change you made to the first paragraph here--it feels more cohesive with the paragraphs that follow now.

  6. Hey,
    I like the logline - it neatly presents the conflict within Taela's mind. She wants to kill, but she doesn't think of it as murder. This is a fascinating conflict.

    Thought the first paragraph was a little unorganized. If she's not a thief "usually," then she's a thief. Also, keeping secrets has nothing to do with being a thief. Maybe stick to one point - stealing from families - and keep it consistent.

    The second paragraph works fantastically, I would even say you might think of killing the first paragraph and starting with the second. And I love the ribbons of moonlight description.

    Good luck with it!

  7. I also like your logline, though I might stop after the second sentence. Good voice and the promise of things to be revealed through the story--secrets, frightening promises, stealing from one's own family. I think it flows nicely and I would definitely read on. Good luck with the auction!

  8. I agree with the other commenters - and I would read more. You might want to rethink the dirt floor in the shed if you want the crock to make a crash. It may break -- depending on the delicacy of the ceramic. But it wouldn't make a loud enough noise.

    Good luck!

  9. An interesting opening, though I think it can be tightened to be more impactful. The whole thing strikes me as a bit wordy. Also, be careful of tense.

    First paragraph: “Taela wasn’t a thief. Not usually. But sometimes folk had to do unpleasant things for those they loved. Like keep secrets or steal from their own families.” See how just a few small tweaks, eliminating unnecessary words keeps the same intent, but moves faster?

    Second: “She slipped into the cool darkness of the storage shed and quietly latched the door, taking a deep breath to calm herself. After tonight it would finally be over. She would fulfill her promise.” I’ve combined sentences, creating a better flow and movement. Also, cutting some of the extensive introspection that’s weighing this down keeps the tension up.

    Try to do this throughout your manuscript. Every word needs to have a purpose, so make sure each one you’re using is being used effectively.

    I’m going to disagree – I think “ribbons of moonlight” is terribly cliché. You can convey the timeframe of the raid without falling into tired tropes. I think this is important in all writing, but especially in fantasy where tropes so often reign.

    Your logline promises an intriguing narrative. Be very mindful of your writing, and you’ll be well on your way.

  10. Great suspense to hook the reader. I agree with it being a bit wordy. Read it out loud and it will help you find where you can cut words or combine sentences.

    Overall, I am interested and would definitely keep reading. Great job!

  11. First off, great title (I remember a different title from another contest).

    I LOVE this opening. It doesn't come off as 'too wordy' in my opinion. I thought the tension created in the scene was good, depicting a clear visual in my mind. And the last paragraph of the excerpt ended at a great moment. I'm left thinking, 'Does she get caught or does she get away?'

    I don't think 'ribbons of moonlight' is too cliché--it's a good visual. I imagine not stripes through wooden slats, but a flowing pattern of light falling over the crates and barrels like ribbons. Okay, maybe I'm getting into this scene too much. Hah!

    I do agree with deleting the second sentence though. Her secrets can always be revealed later.

    Over all, great job. Good luck.

  12. I need more voice. Less details about what she's doing, and more about WHY she's doing it, if that makes sense?

    The logline draws me in, and I would read it based on that alone, but I want more from this first page. I need to be hooked into caring about Taela and why she's doing what she's doing in the first paragraphs. I need emotion from her, either guilt or rage. More motivation.

    But again, I'd read it based on the logline!

  13. I really like the "ribbons of moonlight" image - makes me feel like the light spilling in is following her as she sneaks about. Very good tension. I would definitely read on to see what is driving her to want to kill and steal food from her family. Good conflict.

  14. 50 pages even though Pam--you have to bid in increments of 20!