Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Are You Hooked? Young Adult #24

TITLE: The Seven Laws
GENRE: YA High Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Roiden practices elemental magic in secret experiments, to preserve the only connection he has left to his parents, and where he was born. When he tries to save his friend, his use of elemental magic is discovered—and attributed to her. Now he must either confess, or find a different way to secure her freedom, and the cost of failure is death.

Prologue - Nine years ago

Roiden watched from his place at the dormer window, as the dark closed tighter around the grand bedroom and the heat became suffocating.
He thought he might’ve been forgotten, in the window seat. No one glanced his way when they went in or out, though they passed close by, and the light from the fireplace didn’t quite reach him there.  It seemed to glow stronger, in the air right before him, but he didn’t move out into it.  It would’ve felt better than sitting in the dark, but he wasn’t allowed to.  It was wrong, to notice it anymore.
Two servants had just gone out, leaving the bedroom more still than before.  They’d each carried their own burden wrapped in cloth, one bigger than the other and trailing withered leaves, and the other small and heavier, tied before Roiden had seen what it was.  The servant holding the smaller one had carried it at a distance, as though he could hardly bear to touch it.  Roiden thought it might’ve been cold.
He pulled himself tighter against the curtained window, wishing he could disappear, or that he could’ve gone out with the servants without being seen.  He didn’t think he was supposed to be here.  Aerael’s mother was asleep in the bed, but Aerael, the little girl almost his age, stood by the nightstand, and the old healer woman sat beside her.  Aerael was crying.
The old healer woman took one of her hands gently, and Roiden suddenly felt he should be crying, too, without knowing why.


  1. Your writing is good and descriptive but not a lot is happening in the first 250 to hook me. Maybe start with some action that will hook the reader.
    The logline is great and sounds like a book i'd like to read.

    1. Thanks for your critique! I realized after your comment (and reading several other entries) that my hook is the next line, which is too late. I'll definitely be fixing that. But I'm glad to hear my logline is working. :)

  2. Ditto, great description, and a great premise with good stakes, but I'm not hooked. A confused protag in an opening (esp if he's not active in solving his confusion) means it's hard for the reader to ground. Especially in fantasy. The reader doesn't know these characters, world, magic--aka what's normal--and the protag isn't free to weakens an opening.

    Could we start the story now, with 17yo Rioden? As a reader, I see a confused child, and my instinct is to skip to chapter one when Rioden's not as confused and likely (I assume) working toward making sense of whatever happened in the past. If you can cut the prologue, I would. You could weave in a fear of dark (and we slowly learn why) or awkwardness with Aerael (and then gradually learn why), etc with the other events. If you can time the reveals of what happened with Rioden's self-realizations, you may be able to make a powerful aha moment.

    That's all impressions from reading page 1, however. If the prologue doesn't go with my page-one impressions, if you believe it's vital, then keep it--just realize you have a bigger hurdle than most and make sure you grab that reader.

    Keep at it, and good luck!

    1. Thanks so much for your critique! Your note about confusion helped me crack what I was having trouble with in this opening. :) (I'd anticipated a general "not hooked" response.)

      The prologue leads to Roiden's initial decision to keep working with elemental magic despite the risk, so I haven't been able to cut it without significantly slowing down my first several chapters, but if he's intriguing instead of confusing, I think I can make it work. Thanks again! :)

  3. I am not a fan of prologues, they make me wonder how necessary any of it actually is, and not much has happened to hook me. The writing itself is nice, but I don't think I am hooked based on this.

    1. Thanks for your comment—normally I'm not a fan of prologues, either, but when it becomes necessary for pacing, I'm willing to be less prejudiced. :) I'll definitely make sure to include an actual hook in my revisions.