Friday, November 28, 2014

(26) YA Fantasy: MECHANIC

TITLE: Mechanic
GENRE: YA Fantasy

When the dragonstones, her frozen world’s only source of heat, start failing, a young dragonstone mechanic must discover the cause and fix them, before the cold murders everyone she loves.

The heat charred every inch of my exposed skin and scorched my throat with each breath. Out. Now. Please. I reached the turn wheel at the end of the tunnel. It glowed red. I grabbed it and scathing heat bit into my fingers through my gloves, like some vicious little creature was chewing them off. Gritting my teeth I cranked it around and the door popped open.

I slid out of the stone and the wonderful coolness of the outside air hit me. Finally. I yanked off my hood. There’d be a rat’s nest on my head for sure, but the only things around were a couple of plants. They’d hardly judge. I took a deep breath, savouring the crispness in the air that was already banishing the horrible memory of that heat.

“You fixed it.”

I jolted. Darm stood right at the edge of the garden plots, his expression tight with pain. It was obvious despite the smile he’d plastered onto his face.

“Darm, what are you doing? You shouldn’t be this close to the stone.” I grabbed my jacket from where I’d abandoned it and jogged over to him.

“Just suffering in solidarity.” He looked up at the stone, his smile faltering for the first time. “But it’s okay now, right?”

I glanced over my shoulder. The panel I’d fixed was glowing once more. Not as strong as I wanted, but at least it was lit.

“Yes.” My throat tightened around the lie. “Of course it is.”


  1. This is a really interesting premise, and I want to learn more about the tech of your world! I think it's awesome that your MC is a mechanic - already we know that she's strong, and clever, even if we don't actually see her "fix" the dragonstones. I want to keep reading to find out who Darm is and why the dragonstones hurt him to be near them.

  2. I, too, love the premise and would read on. Neither the logline or first page mention the name of the MC.
    The first sentence jarred me-- "the heat charred every inch of my exposed skin...." You might consider another word instead of charred since I wondered if a mechanic wouldn't have protective gear to prevent suffering significant burns each time she repaired a dragonstone.
    Also, I wondered about the other mechanics, which you'll probably discuss in your story. Good luck!

  3. Yes, great premise and strong opening. I agree the POV character needs a name, sooner rather than later. Readers identify more quickly when a character has a name. The easy way is for Darm to address her by name within this first 250 words.

    I also had the same question -- why does she go in without some kind of protective gear? She obviously took off her jacket before going in, no doubt because it's so hot inside, but that only exposed her to getting burned. Need a little clarification around that, maybe that there was a sense of urgency to act.

  4. Hi there! This is such a cool premise, though my first thought on reading the concept statement was MG, I think because this particular type of object-based problem (dragonstone) is often a key feature of a MG fantasy quest/adventure, whereas the YA equivalent stereotypically has the main character themselves as catalyst, rather than technician of change. That's not a bad thing, I just want you to be aware in case you get that kind of feedback from agents and wonder why.


    With an opening like this, urgency is key, and I think your first sentence does you a disservice. The sentences that follow are far more immediate, so I'd consider moving that first line a few down, or tighten it up into shorter, tenser thoughts, and plunge us into the book. These descriptions that follow are GREAT, but I think we need something before them with more punch.

    I agree with what's been said above, we should get the MC's name before Darm, for clarity.

    You do a good job taking advantage of feel as a sense with regards to the heat, but don't forget you have smell and taste. A small sense note goes a long way.

    I want to know why Darm's in pain. If we're going to find out, that's fine, if we should understand implicitly, it's not obvious.

    I also just have to say I REALLY like the line you ended on.


  5. A short and sweet logline--I love it! I also loved the action happening on the first page. The only thing I'll comment on is the rhythm of the sentences sounded off to me (now mind you, this could be just me). You start a lot of the phrases with the subject (I, he), but another option would be to reverse that. For example: Grabbing my jacket from where I abandoned it, I jogged over to him. It can help create a better flow.

    Good luck!

  6. If the heat she encounters is normal, wouldn't she protect herself so she doesn't get charred? If it isn't normal, it would be great to know that, even if we don't know why. The fact that the panel is glowing would seem to imply that the heat is a good thing. If so...

    I'd also like to know why Darm is in pain. Right now I can't tell if it's mental or physical pain.

    The premise is interesting, and mechanics are having a moment in the sun what with Steampunk and DIY and Cinder, so it's a well-timed premise. And I'm always a sucker for competent girls who do stuff. My only beef with your logline is the word 'murders.' Unless the cold is a malevolent force, it can only kill, rather than murder.

    God luck in the auction!

  7. What a neat premise! I also think the idea of having a female mechanic as your MC is compelling, and I thought your first page gave me a clear sense of her work and the dangers of it. This line “…like some vicious little creature was chewing them off” was great—made me feel like I was experiencing the heat right along with her (I also agree that I would love to know her name a little sooner.).

    Wishing you all the best in the auction!

  8. Cool premise, and I love that the main character is a girl mechanic! I'm also so intrigued by the name "dragonstone" - does that mean that later in the story there might be... dragons?? (I'm a dragon fangirl :)).

    I agree with the comments about the word choice in the first couple paragraphs. I thought the main character was actually on fire/burning, especially due to the word 'charred.' I'd clarify that she's just very overheated, rather than actually being consumed by flames.

    I also think the pitch sounds a little middle-grade-esque - however, the voice here definitely feels older. I wonder if there's a way to re-position this so it sounds more like YA? Perhaps emphasize the personal stakes a bit more by specifying who, exactly, these people are whom the MC cares about. I think by bringing out the MC's emotional connection to the plot, you could clarify this as YA.

    I definitely want to know what's "okay now" and would read on... Good luck!