Wednesday, January 29, 2014

First Two (YA Fiction) #12

TITLE: Wrapped in Darkness
GENRE: YA, Urban Fantasy

Of all the places in the world I would have liked to wake up, sprawled out in a puddle of water was not one of them. The rain was pouring down from the sky, splattering against my face and all I could do was lie there and wonder how in the world I’d managed to stoop so low. Two weeks ago I’d been in college, working towards my dream of becoming a veterinarian for wildlife in Africa, and now I was soaked to the bone with a hangover from hell.

Death sucked.

If anyone had ever asked me if I was afraid of dying, I honestly could have told them, no. Death was always something that would happen after I’d graduated from college, had a successful career, found the one, and had kids. Then maybe after I’d travelled the world and witnessed the birth of my fifth grandchild, I could die peacefully in my sleep. Or that was how I’d always thought my life would pan out… dying in a car crash the week before my twenty-first birthday hadn’t exactly been on the agenda, but s*** happens, right?

“Do I sense motion down there?” a voice called.

I opened my eyes to see Sam leaning halfway out the third story window of the Fifth Circle clubhouse. She looked fresh and well rested, as though she hadn’t just spent the entire night partying with me. I pushed myself slowly into a seated position; my head felt like it was about to roll off my shoulders and join my arse in the puddle. If I’d known a hangover in death would be just as bad as a hangover in life, then I might have reconsidered that last round of shots.

“Are you all right down there, Abbie?”

“I can’t believe you left me out here in the rain.”

“You wanted to stay out there,” Sam said, pulling the hood of her coat up over her blonde hair. “You kept going on and on about how being ‘one with the city’ was the only way you’d come to accept your own death. So I was like, all right then, see-ya.”

“Worst. Friend. Ever.”

“Hey, I’ve only known you a week. I wouldn’t start calling us friends yet,” Sam teased. “Now are you coming inside, or what?”

Going inside the clubhouse, or The Abyss as its residents liked to call it, didn’t sound like a good idea. Jason would undoubtedly jump all over my hung-over state and send me on a run to collect supplies. Battling the crowds of the marketplace was the last thing I wanted to be doing, I wasn’t lucid enough to be on constant guard.

The afterlife was interesting, to say the least. It manifested as a dark and derelict city that probably could have been tolerable if the crime wasn’t so high. There was no overruling law or governmental body and the only real dominance came from The Fallen, the largest gang in the city.


  1. I think some small confusion in the first line could be avoided but adding 'where.' ie: of all the places in the world where I would like to wake up....

    You have a chance to cut unnecessary words in the second line and make your writing tighter by eliminating "from the sky" - perhaps just the "rain was pouring down."

    I like the info contained in the first paragraph. The description gives me a physical scene I can visualize and the contrast with her recent place in life piques my interest - so, well done there.

    To find out she is actually dead is a surprise which is what it should be so I think you pulled that off nicely. I like how it is experienced as kind of a strange timing thing and not a tragic end - deftly done and effective.

    The rest of the set up definitely has me hooked into reading more. The afterlife as a derelict city through which the protag will have to navigate sounds like a good read.

  2. I read this twice. First for the story and second from an editing perspective.

    First: I love the voice. I'd keep reading! "If I’d known a hangover in death would be just as bad as a hangover in life, then I might have reconsidered that last round of shots." Best line!

    Editing wise: Consider going through and rewording things to get rid of the passive voice. (ex: rain was pouring -- change to The rain poured down)

    You have some extra words that you can cut out (ex: would have liked -- change to I wanted to wake up)

    "...all I could do was lie there and wonder how in the world I’d managed to stoop so low." I think this would read better as internal dialogue.

    Great job hooking me.

    LOVE the voice! And very fun twist on the afterlife (except for the hangover thing! Lol). I agree about the word cutting, if you can ever get rid of "" or "" it's always a good idea.
    Like Daniel said, I think the first paragraph is very well done, but I think the first sentence could be changed up a bit. "Sprawled out in a puddle of water was not my ideal way to wake up" or something similar might work to help tighten the sentence but keep the concept.
    This did sound a bit more like Adult Urban Fantasy to me than YA, but I enjoyed it either way!

  4. I have to agree, your line "If I'd known a hangover in death..." is great! Total props. And this is an intriguing concept.

    But I find I disagree with comments above about hiding the fact she's dead. Personally, I think you'd be better to nail that down from the start and thus more firmly ground the reader in your character's current reality and what they're trying to do in this scene. Of course it's all subjective opinion! But if it was me? I'd open with "Death sucked." and then move on to the paragraph with the puddle. I'd also try to shuffle some of your content so more on her immediate situation is at the start - could you push the "If anyone had ever asked me if I was afraid of dying..." down a bit?

    Cool things are definitely happening! I'd keep reading :)

  5. Great voice! I'm hooked. Not a lot to say here that hasn't already been said.

    I agree with Deana about not hiding the fact she's dead. The line, "If I'd known a hangover in death..." is fabulous, and could work well as your first line.

  6. First off, I want to say I really liked your voice and I like the concept. But...I agree with Deana. You need to let us know she's actually dead. I was so confused the first time I read it that it just made me frustrated. She's alive, she's dead, no wait, she's alive. And, she's dead.

    You had some good lines in there that the other commenters already mentioned. Some of the dialogue didn't feel very natural to me though: "You kept going on and on about how being ‘one with the city’ was the only way you’d come to accept your own death. So I was like, all right then, see-ya.” Maybe simplify it: "Remember, you wanted to be one with the city. What was I supposed to do? Deny you" Or something.

    Good luck!

  7. While I like the voice, you nearly lost me in the first two lines. When I read things like "the rain was pouring down from the sky" I cringe a little. Where else is the rain going to come from? Is the rest of the story going to be littered with the same sort of obvious telling/over explaining?

    Personally, I though you could lose all of the first two paragraphs. It is all tell and backstory - stuff that can easy be built in as you go (if it is even necessary - i.e. the concept of death is very cliche and one we all hope will happen to us!)

    The story would be much stronger if you started with "Are you all right down there?"

    Like others, I loved the hangover lines and I giggled at her head rolling off her shoulders and joining her arse in the puddle.

    The last paragraph is tell. Consider building this information in as you go, instead of thrusting it at the reader up front.

  8. I was also confused about whether the MC was alive or dead. That might have actually intrigued me more, though.

    Someone mentioned that this might work as an adult fantasy instead of a young adult fantasy. I'll thrown in a monkey wrench and suggest that you submit it for New Adult. The MC is the perfect age for new adult novels, and certain themes like college and drinking would appeal to college-aged readers more than it would appeal to, say, a sixteen-year-old reader.

    The last sentence of the paragraph had an oddly placed comma. I recommend changing the comma to a semicolon, thus: "Battling the crowds of the marketplace was the last thing I wanted to be doing; I wasn’t lucid enough to be on constant guard."

    I'm intrigued by the idea of an afterlife with a lot of crime. I would keep reading!

  9. The problem here, for me, was that the afterlife was no different than the MC's regular life, and all I know about the MC is that he's just woken up in a puddle after drinking the night away.

    There's no hint of a problem, There's nothing unique or different about the setting (college dorm scene). There's nothing to pull me in.

    And then we get to the last parg. where you start to pique my interest. Something is different here. Something is interesting and out of the ordinary.

    Perhaps start there and cut everything before that. Focus on the story you want to tell, and perhaps even write it in third person. Writing it in third person forces you to concentrate on story rather than unnecessary rambling by the MC. After you have your story, then rewrite it in first person.