Wednesday, January 22, 2014

First Two (Adult Fiction) #13

TITLE: Capturing the Last Welsh Witch
GENRE: Adult Romance

Ella blinked awake as a blast of frigid air caressed her skin, and in the distance, she could hear trickling water. Icy-fear snaked its way into her mind as she jerked her chin off the mushy grass and peered at the world from the ground. She was lying semi-prone on the cold, damp earth with grass stuck to her lips. The day usually began in a warm bed, and Aidan was there. Instead frosty kisses from the early-morning breeze touched her, mostly naked body, and she shivered. She lifted a shaky hand to her head, and groaned as an image of a hysterical and angry Aidan, flashed through her head.

“What the hell happened?” She whispered to the wind as if it may answer.

Ella pushed herself off the grass, but her limbs buckled, and a wave of dizziness

took over threatening to send her crashing to the ground. Searching around, she grabbed onto the nearest tree for support as she vomited. Some of the dizziness lifted, and she wiped the back of her hand across her mouth. The gurgle of water caught her attention, and she turned her head. A couple of feet away was a small sliver of a stream.

Have I changed?

She staggered towards the water on shaky legs. None of this made sense. Ella was usually prepared, but she was in the middle of a forest with no recollection as to how or why? Each step made her curse, as a pain shot through her chest and limbs. Breathing increased the agony. It was as if she had fought in a great battle and lost. Her head throbbed and white stars danced before her.

Just get to the water and drink.

Ella pushed herself forward to the edge of the stream, but her legs gave way and she sank to her knees. Leaning over, she stared at her reflection in the water.

“What a mess,” she gasped. She moved her jaw, and lifted her hand to examine her face.


Her fingers traced the outline of a large, black bruise on her cheek. Dried blood had congealed by her nose, and her hair was a wild mass. One eye was so swollen it was barely open, and although unrecognizable from the bruises and swelling, familiar blue eyes stared at her. She was still Ella Masters.

Despite looking battered, and like she’d been raised by wolves, she wasn’t dead. At least not yet. Sitting back of her haunches, she glanced down, and followed a succession of bruises on her arm that resembled finger prints. Running her hand over them an ugly memory roared to life.

His face loomed into view. Sharp blue irises, like the deepest ocean glinted silver as they gazed at her. There was no warmth in his expression, his lips were pulled into a narrow line, and he gripped her wrists so tightly they stung. Ella twisted and pulled at them, but he wasn’t letting her go. A cry escaped her lips. “Aidan.


  1. This doesn't draw me in for one reason - its two pages of "Hide what's going on from the reader." And that's not the same as suspense. Having you MC not remember what happened is one thing, but you reference things like "Have I changed?" but don't follow up with clues about what kind of "change" you're referring to, which just makes me (the reader) frustrated. (This can be a problem with starting mid-action. It's hard to ground readers while maintaining the tension.)

    I'm also finding a lack of detail about when this story is taking place. (The title makes me think more historical, but it could easily be contemporary paranormal since the only thing we're told is that Ella's in a forest.)

    I like your details. You are building a solid visual, despite the lack of bigger story context. And the story seems interesting, I just don't like so much "mystery" up front.

  2. I, too, found it hard to pin down the setting here. At first I thought this might be historical, then I thought time travel, and finally I wasn't sure.

    It also has to be said that waking-up openings are fairly cliche.

    This might be the rare case where it would actually be better to start a little earlier and ground us in Ella's world before she goes through whatever change has brought her to this place.

  3. I think the main issue here is not starting in the right place... We need to be invested in your character before we can care about her sudden, magical transportation. We need to see her in her normal (well, normal insofar as it's the day that everything goes awry...) life. The good news is that you already have your scene 2 or 3!, you just need to give us that extra beat or two before this so we have something to latch onto, first.

  4. I also wanted to know more about "changing." And was troubled by the cliche waking up opening. But there was also a lot I liked here, especially combined with the title. I thought it read more like fantasy than romance though.

  5. I found the first paragraph a little over descriptive for my personal tastes but you evoke the forest atmosphere well.

    I think it is stronger without the internal dialogue. Have I changed suggests Ella is aware of an ability or a reason she might change but the reader has no clue. I think there is enough mystery here with Ella not knowing happened to her.

  6. Jennifer Owen-Davies-Thanks for all your comments, and I agree I need to include a paragraph that leads up to this moment, thanks.Also, I really should have listed the genre as a paranormal romance. Ellam masters is a soul-shifter, but has been hunted through time as a witch. It is set in the present day, thanks again so much xxx

  7. Ah! Glad to see this truly is a paranormal romance and not just a bizarre dream sequence. (It's surprising how many entries I've seen on this very website the past three years that begin with someone waking up from a dream where they are lost or running through a forest.)

    I agree, this might not be starting in the right place. The way it's presented seems more like a dream or a prologue. Either way, this reads like the aftermath of a fight, so maybe backing up would help, or even moving forward to where she is recovering from "another" episode (if that applies--assuming she is going through some supernatural change she doesn't have a handle on yet).

    Overall advice is to watch for how many ideas fill each sentence. Especially with a beginning, it might be better to slow down how many concepts and actions and thoughts encompass each line. Your first line could be three: Ella blinked awake. A blast of frigid air caressed her skin (or combine those two). In the distance, trickling water... etc.

    I like the detail that tells how her day usually began--in a warm bed--so we know this day is different. I would suggest that she not whisper to the wind since it seems more for the benefit of the reader. Perhaps show one paragraph of her searching, confused, and then move straight to the looming face, which is where it gets interesting. You can fill in the details later of dried blood, bruises and we don't need her spoken comments to no one given it's implied/shown already she is a mess and doesn't know what's going on.

  8. My thought was that this was overwritten, that's there's too much description of things that don't matter.

    The MC wakes, bruised and battered, in a forest. That's what happens here. All the rest is mostly description of movements, aches and pains, bruises, etc. What I wanted to know was why she's there, which she's just getting to at the end of the piece.

    Even though it is a waking up opening, it could work if you moved on a bit quicker. But if she's going to go over in her mind what happened, then perhaps that's the event you should begin with.

    You might also reconsider the logic of what you're writing. In the first sentence, a blast of frigid air 'caresses' her body. If it's a blast, and it's frigid, then it's probably not caressing. She has grass stuck to her lips and never wipes it away. If she jerks her chin off the grass, I assume she's lying on her stomach. Then she is lying semi-prone (sitting up?) which she couldn't do unless she was laying on her back. You refer to her 'mostly naked' body, but give us no clue as to how she's dressed. If you cut all the unnecessary description, then none of this matters. If you keep it, make sure it makes sense.