Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Are You Hooked? Young Adult #30

GENRE: YA Fantasy

Common-born mages are forbidden. When the peasant Adara accidentally destroys a hut with blue flames, the Dragonmaster agrees to hide her on two conditions: she must pass as a noble, and she must fling enough fireballs at his enemies to make the risk of being caught worth it.

As I got off the hay-cart, I realized a major problem in my plan to hide in a city: I’d never been to a city before.
One street had more life crowded into it than all of Stoneyfield. Horses with carriages and horses with merchant wagons, horses carrying men who looked down their noses. Women in trousers hurrying with purchases, chattering women in skirts of endless orange and blue. Trinket-pushers shouted behind me, bracelets and combs and eggs for—First One above, for an entire copper apiece—and the buildings crowded together with two, three layers of windows. Already the hay-cart was lost in traffic, lost in noise, lost in horse shit and people churning.
I stood gaping at it all like a bewildered cow.
Snap out of it, Adara. The sooner you get used to this, the better. I picked a trousered woman and tried to copy her easy-yet-rushed way of moving. The hay-cart farmer had promised this was a street of cheaper inns. I ambled until I came to a door.
The noise didn’t dim, it just changed. Through an arch across the foyer, people laughed, talked, and cursed. Pipes and a drum tried to be heard over it all. The foyer itself was empty except for a man bent over a book at a counter. Keys dangled from hooks on the wall behind the man, and several uncomfortable-looking chairs lined the opposite wall.
The man glanced up with a smile. It vanished.


  1. Hooked! I like the start of this. A commoner braving the city shows spunk, but her lack of foresight shows she has room to grow. I get that not being to a city before leaves an outsider at a disadvantage, but why does this cause a major problem? Does she not have money? Contacts? Supplies? All of the above? She's hiding in the city, so I have to assume the jump is at least somewhat premeditated. Or is she just simply overwhelmed with everything around her? Love how she picks at certain things of interest. If she comes from a small farming village, she would likely notice the vast differences in attire for women. She's probably worn skirts since birth! :) Great start!

  2. -sigh-

    Wordpress ate my first comment.

    Your log line does it's job perfectly. The very punchy and brief short first sentence hooks me in instantly. I need to know why they aren't allowed!

    Overall I love how well you pull the life of the city into your pages. The reader is immersed in the colorful, but not overdone, details immediately and you get a real strong sense of the culture shock our MC is feeling. I could definitely get lost in her story.

    The only thing I have a small issue with is the beginning of the first sentence. "As I got off the hay-cart" somehow manages to be both abrupt and a little boring in my opinion, which is really sad as the rest of the sentence if perfect. She needs a stronger "entrance" for lack of a better word.

  3. I'm not quite hooked, but mostly because that brief pitch doesn't give me enough detail to know whether your story is going to be too familiar, or a fresh take on the young person discovering she possesses magical skill (assuming she didn't already know and just lost control momentarily). I think perhaps the "flinging fireballs" part could made more specific. She's going to pose as a noble and fight in the Dragonmaster's army? Is he going to tutor her in magic, or is she on her own to figure out how to use it?

    Also, some of the tone of this opening doesn't come across as though a peasant is telling the story. She seems too refined in speech, though "Already the hay-cart was lost in traffic, lost in noise, lost in horse shit and people churning.
    I stood gaping at it all like a bewildered cow." both convey the tone I would expect.

    Overall, I probably would read a little further to get some of my questions answered as I think this could be an interesting story.

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  5. Not sure what happened to the first comment... anyway.

    Nice! I like the humor and the voice (the bewildered cow in particular), and you've done a good job breathing life into the street scene. I'm also impressed that you were able to get a hint of the humor into the logline--that's not easy.

    I probably would not have picked this up just from the logline, but only b/c I'm mostly off fantasy these days. You have a really solid opening here, though, and I'd be hooked enough to keep reading. Good job!

  6. I'm hooked! Mainly because of the use of language, the clever way you describe the action and tension in the setting alone, and the fact that I haven't met the second major character. Your log line makes me think they will be comparable because of the way you leave the plot open with just mentioning 'fling enough fireballs at his enemies'. It seems like much of the story will be about this too. If it isn't, you might want to tweak the log line to focus more on the girl.

    On another note, the language is so good that the word 'shit' stood out for me. You have some very clever choices in this small section and this world feels like it should be just as clever. It made it feel much less adventurous and much more current in time.

    Great opening!

  7. I'm not a super-fan of fantasy, so honestly I read your log line and then thought, "Oh, fantasy. I guess I'll pick a different one."

    BUT THEN...your first line definitely captured me. It was great. As I read through the rest of your writing sample, it was extremely intriguing. It leaves me with a lot of questions, but ones I feel would be answered if I read on. If this was a book on the shelf, I would read on. You build tension well, and I feel like I can see your setting. I wonder if you can build some of that tension into your log line? I feel like I spent so much time trying to figure out from your log line what the plot would be that I honestly got a bit lost. Perhaps you could simplify?

    Nice work here.

  8. Agree about the use of the swear word in this excerpt being a bit jarring - it just felt totally out of place and out of tune with the rest. I liked the descriptions of the city and the people, felt vivid and painted a picture. I haven't got much of a feel for the main character yet. I would probably be hooked enough to read on for a while before I could decide for sure.

  9. Agree with the swear word not fitting in with the tone of the rest of the writing. Too, the phrase "a major problem" stuck out to me as more 'modern' and out of place.
    "As I got off the hay-cart" seems passive and slow. Is her heart pounding? Does she clamber down from the seat near the driver, or is she crowded in with the hay?
    I'm definitely hooked, however, and loved your description of the city with all of its color, commotion, and confusion. :)