Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drop the Needle #3

TITLE: Queen of the Night
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Sarah, a contemporary 18yo, has been transported to the magical land of Zyris, where Prince Liam, unaware of her father’s connection to the rebel forces of the Night, has agreed to help her return home. He gifted her with some material for a head covering to help her fit in better with the customs of Zyris.

“Did your soldier tell you that Carl and I stopped by this morning? I wanted to thank you for your generous gift of the material. You didn't have to do that.”

The corners of his mouth curved up just slightly. Were his lips as soft as they looked? “It was a mere trifle. I thought it a happy coincidence your dress happened to be the same shade as the material I bought at Shelby to take home to my mother. She doesn't often travel as she's been more or less an invalid since I was a small child.”

“I feel even worse now, taking a gift you meant for your mother!”

“No, don't worry,” he insisted, placing a hand on my elbow. “There is more than enough for your hennepin and for her. She would be happy to see you properly attired.”

“Well, women don't usually wear anything on their heads where I come from.” I tugged at the end of my bonnet string. “I am grateful that you gave the job to Tabitha. She seemed very excited to make something fancy again.”

“I thought she might.” He smiled, confident but not cocky. What a gift the Prince had for knowing how to give people a sense of their own value, while making good use of their talents. He would be an excellent leader for Zyris when the time came.


  1. I can't help but feel that this character is the classic damsel in distress and is mostly about falling in love with the perfect boy who is going to take care of her and make everything work out for her.

    I could be totally wrong, but that's how this reads to me.

    Without more context I'm just assuming that the Prince does and should talk so formally, but it also feels like there's a good bit of infodump in this conversation, telling us a whole lot about this gift that, if it isn't important to know later, just drags down the pace.

    It's nice and clean though, with no glaring punctuation or grammar issues that detract from the read.

  2. I liked the Prince's speech (although I agree that he then must be this formal for a reason).

    I didn't mind the note about his mom being an invalid, but there is a lot of telling in the last paragraph. Don't tell me he's not cocky and is a great leader, show me :)

    Also, there's nothing wrong with playing with troupes (damsel/prince), but there has to be something strong about the female character for us to want to follow her. She doesn't have to be Katniss, but she needs to be active in her the journey.

  3. It might be partly because there's nothing in this excerpt that reveals what's unique about the characters or the situation -- it appears to be pretty generic fantasy -- but I'm afraid this felt a bit stiff and formal to me.

    It's as if you're essentially doing all the right things -- as Leah said, the writing is quite clean -- but it's missing something to bring out an emotional response in the reader. Again, more showing and less telling would help us get that connection and feel what Sarah is feeling.

    (And of course there may be details and thoughts that are more distinctive and more personal right before or right after this -- that's why it can be tricky to judge these brief excerpts!)

  4. This reads quite stiff and formal. Part of the problem is the sentence structure as they talk. For example,

    o "It was a mere trifle" could be shortened to 'A mere trifle'.

    o "No, dont' worry" could be shortened to 'Don't worry,'

    o"Well, women don't..." could be shortened to 'Women don't...'.

    Also bothered by the reference to his mom and her not travelling because she is an invalid which sounds forced. A bit of an info dump we probably don't need to know just yet. Consider condensing it.

    It also seems incongruent that he tells her he sacrificed his mother's gift for her and then the narrator later concludes he makes people feel good about themselves.