Wednesday, January 29, 2014

First Two (YA Fiction) #7

TITLE: Essence
GENRE: Fantasy

I open my eyes.

There’s a man hovering above me.

A stranger.

My legs are tangled in sweat and blankets as I scramble back against a headboard.

He’s ridiculously tall, his unnaturally, bright red hair contrasting sharp black eyes set above high cheekbones. “Well, good to see you’re finally awake.” He gives a wide grin. All his teeth are long, curved, pointed.

A scream chokes up my throat and I throw myself out of the bed. The sheets fall with me, binding my legs. They don’t give no matter how much I worm around or rip at them.

“Whoa, whoa.” The man jumps over the bed, squatting in front of me with his arms raised. “I won’t touch you. Calm down, please, you could hurt yourself.”

My fingers hesitate. If he wanted to hurt me, he could have. For God’s sake, he was hovering over me while I slept. A shiver spikes up my spine. “What are you?”

“What am I?” He blinks. “I’m Bob. And you are?”

Bob’s a name, not a thing. Is he hiding it from me, whatever he is?

And I…

“I don’t know.”

“What don’t you know?” An odd accent lilts across his words.

What do I say? Hey monster, thanks for hovering over me and all, but I have no idea who I am. I don’t even know my name.

“Come on now, I won’t bite.”

Hysterical laughter bubbles in my stomach, and I clamp my teeth shut against it. He sure as hell has the teeth for biting. But could he have answers? “M-my name. I don’t know my name.”

He nods, like that’s the most normal thing in the world. Maybe it is. “Then it’s a miracle you’re already up, much less speaking. “

“What happened?” Panic nips at my throat, and I curl tighter, further away from him. “Where am I? What are you doing with me?” This isn’t where I’m supposed to be. There’s no way to explain it, I can’t remember anything, but I need to run. I need to get back…where?

“Hey, I didn’t do anything you, honestly. And I won’t do anything to you.” He searches my eyes for a second. For what, I’ve no idea. “We’re not sure what exactly what happened to you. Or, at least, I don’t. It’s Morgan that rescued you. This is his house, in a little town called Wyndham. None of this happens to sound familiar, does it?”

Should I lie? Every time I see those teeth flash between his words I want to leap over him, out the door, find someone normal to help me. “What did Morgan rescue me from?” You?

His lips get thinner. “Well —”

A bang vibrates from another room.

I jump violently, and Bob sighs.

“One moment.” He jogs from the room, and as he leaves, he yells, “I know that wasn’t burning, there’s no reason to act out! Damned dramatic oven!”


  1. I love the setup and the situation. I want to learn more about the character(s) - why they're here, and where they go from here.

    You might want to spend a bit more time allowing the MC to explore the fact that she doesn't know who she is. How does that feel? Does she know it all of a sudden, or does it trickle icily into her brain as she tries to say her name?

    Also, I recommend at least one more edit pass before too long. Lots of little missteps will throw off readers, who'll lose trust in you. For example, she scrabbles, not scrambles back against a headboard. Screams don't choke up a throat - maybe they choke, but not choke up, and this phrasing puts the scream rather than the throat (and the MC) as the subject. "Or at least, I'm not," not "I don't," which doesn't match the previous verb ("we're nor sure").

  2. This is a great setup! It makes you wonder about what's going to come next which is always a good thing! :)
    I agree with MK, having your MC react to not knowing who she is would help us get to know her better. I think a great place to insert her reaction would be after "What do I say? Hey monster, thanks for hovering over me and all, but I have no idea who I am. I don’t even know my name."
    I also think describing the room she's in a little more would help also, because I LOVED the line about the oven, but I was not expecting her to be in a house with an oven. I was thinking more of a cell, for some reason.

  3. I do think it's important to pay attention to the details when you put your work before anyone and there are some careless mistakes such as the missing "to" in “Hey, I didn’t do anything you, honestly." Or the repeated "what" in “We’re not sure what exactly what happened to you."

    That aside, I could feel her fear. She doesn't know who this guy is--so interesting because his body language and his words are all non-threatening, but then there are those teeth!

    I didn't get the oven thing at the end of this section. Since the previous commenter really liked it, it must just be me.

  4. The beginning started out a bit rough for me. The single-sentence paragraphs felt choppy, especially since this is a first-person narrative. Also, the typos (as pointed out above) hindered my reading of what I'm sure is going to be a great story.

    I'm definitely intrigued by what type of world this is. I want to know what species Bob and the human are. I'd keep reading!

  5. Thank you so much for all the feedback! You all raise very good points and I can't wait to get back to doing another pass though it.
    I reworked this the day of submitting and didn't have a CP around to look through it before submitting -- completely stupid on my part. I know better than to assume I caught all the typos. Definitely carrying that on to my next contest.
    Anyways, thank you all again!

  6. I thought this worked pretty well. You open with the MC in an interesting situation, and something is happening. I did think the questioning and wondering went on too long, though. Is there some reason Bob is withholding information from the MC and thus, the reader? There must be a reason he is there, hovering over her bed. Perhaps he could get to the point and give her some answers a bit sooner?

  7. This is a pretty ridiculous situation, and I mean that in the best way. However, I think you could make an amusing opening even better.

    I'd like more description of the MC's surroundings. At first, I thought she was in her bedroom, but it becomes clear she's somewhere else entirely. Maybe even another world? Describe the room she's in. Is it fancy? Threadbare? Medieval-looking? Help the reader out.

    Also, make it clear earlier on that your character not only doesn't know where she is, but doesn't know who she is. That's a big deal and it gets glossed over a little.

    Good luck!