Saturday, May 28, 2011

Made of Awesome Blog Contest

They come in twos.

I swear this is the last blog contest I'm going to enter for a while, but this one by Shelley Watters is all about strengthening the first 250 words of a completed novel, and I have one story with 4 different beginnings that could really use a few external opinions.

Title: Dark Moon, 90K words
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy


Devonshire 1768. Noble-born Alexia has never been “attractive.” Far from. Avoiding Father’s push toward betrothal (before the unfortunate prospectives catch sight of her and think better) has been the only concern of her dull existence…until the night she meets him, the night she witnesses an unbelievable murder, the night her own impossible beauty stares back from the mirror, the night she realizes her entire life is a facade. Now she has a choice: step blindly into the unknown, toward him, or spend the rest of mortality wondering about red-eyed wraiths on moonless nights. 

I pushed myself off the ground. Dizziness rushed upon me in waves. The swelling in my ankle had returned, only now it throbbed in agony.
The hedges guarding the house from the road blotted Miles from view. He wouldn’t return even if I screamed for him, and I had to return to the house, to safety.
I turned.
A shrouded form stood between me and the lighted doorway. I fumbled backward, staggered, tripped on my skirts, and rolled.
Another creature appeared from around the side of the house, black robes limp in the absence of a breeze. More raven forms surfaced in the night following the first, murderous eyes, a great rolling tide of black.
I had only one course to follow.
Scrambling blindly away on hands and knees, I veered to my right, to the left, landing on my elbows, tearing my skirts.
Why hadn’t they overtaken me? They could move so much faster! Did they enjoy my flight? Perhaps they mocked me with the hope I might escape?
I lunged between gateposts that marked Father’s property and froze.
Multiple crimson pupils burrowed into me from the wooded shadows—hungry, piercing. How many? Forty maybe?
Miles stood only a couple paces ahead of me, whimpering in terror.
They circled us, eyes crushing down.
This is how it would end. I had seen it a hundred times in the prophetic nightmare, but never wanted to believe…

Thank you for reading! Suggestions?
Oh yes, before I for the random cheese fact of the week: Did you know there are over 1000 types of cheeses in the world? In fact, there are 400 types of French cheese alone.
Anyone who would like to read the final entries to this contest, go here.


  1. I'm a little confused by your first page. Is she dead? I'm guessing that's what she discovered at the end? I think maybe if you revealed she was dead first then went into her description it might help. There is definite potential though. Good luck!

  2. Nope. She's not dead, although I can definitely see where that might be a possibility from this opening.

  3. A very intriguing first page. Though I am confused, I like it. The writing has the feel of waking up after a dream. I'd read more. Nice work.

  4. It took me a couple reads to get the situation straight. Personally, when I wake up from a nightmare I don't expect to see my reflection so I was puzzled from the first sentence.

    The brief mention of her being ugly doesn't quite make it clear that what she sees isn't what she's used to.

    And then you're switching to her dream already -- let me get a clear idea what's going on before you throw me into a dream.

    Plus the whole bugaboo of the character waking up and looking in a mirror. I would be more interested if the scene was her stumbling down to breakfast and everyone asking "who're you? where'd you come from?"

    Just my opinion. :)

  5. Like the others, I was somewhat confused too and I have to admit I'm not keen on the flashback. I'm not sure this is the strongest place to start - perhaps within the dream sequence, giving the reader some action and the sense of danger you implied later, then have her waken and move to the mirror.

  6. I was a little confused as well. Maybe have her say it was only a dream or something, to make sure we know she is alive and then make it more clear that she is now beautiful. Also I don't know that a girl would be thinking life in 1768 is unfair. I think she would just think my life is unfair or for women in general, so I would lose the date and find another way to let teh reader know that.

  7. Like the others, I found this confusing. I also didn't like her thinking the year to herself. People just don't do that...

    Plus, both starting with a dream, and having a character look in a mirror are cliches that should be avoided wherever possible. I think there may be an intriguing idea in here, but I don't think this is the best place to start your story.

    Sorry, but I wouldn't read on.

  8. The imagery in the first paragraph didn’t line up with my perception of what was going on. Also a little confusing how her skirts could prevent her from breathing. The viewer sounds like a necrophiliac.

    A month ago the expectation to be ladylike and presentable began. –If this is true historical verses commercialized historical, I think she would have been expected to be ladylike well before her birthday.

    Mine is that it didn’t exist for a female in seventeen-sixty-eight. --Unless the year is really specific for the story (say in time traveling cases) I think it's better to omit it and let the reader glean the time period from the setting (or the image that ends up on the front cover.) Saying that she stubs her toe on a chamber pot while climbing out of bed on her way to light a candle goes a long way.

    I like how you have varied sentence lengths, and the hook is definitely creepy. I think it needs another line to clarify who the girl is. Is it her reflection of herself, being dead, or the other dead girl from her dream? In regards to the line about the potential husbands getting scared off...can anyone else see the girl in the reflection?

  9. I think this opening is definitely sucking me in!

    Here are the things that made me go "hmmm":

    "The sweltering in my ankle had returned, only now it blared blindingly."

    "Sweltering" according to is defined as:

    1. suffering oppressive heat.
    2. characterized by oppressive heat; sultry.

    And "Blared" is a verb that means;
    1. to emit a loud, raucous sound

    a swelter blaring doesn't quite make sense. I think what you meant here is the painful injury swelling up her ankle was radiating up her leg?

    I also notice a lot of extra adjectives. Stephen King said in his memoir on the craft *On Writing* that "Adjectives are not your friends." I completely agree with that. Maybe you could work on those?

    Other than that, I was a little scared of what was going to happen to your MC. I hope she gets out of there fast! Good luck with the contest!

  10. I'm afraid I think your writing suffers from too many words with 'ing' and 'ly'. One simply writes tighter and more concise when we're forced to keep them to a minimum. So my one suggestion would be to try and rewrite this opening with that in mind. Good luck in the contest!

  11. I am so worried for your MC! "Scrambling blindly away on hands and knees, I veered unsteadily to my right, to the left, landing on my elbows, tearing my skirts." I think you should break that sentence up somehow. It just has a lot of separate parts. I also agree that sweltering ankle doesn't make sense. But your premise is compelling and I get a very real sense that the MC is in danger. Good luck.

  12. Compelling opening! I noticed the part about the ankle too, so perhaps pick different words for that.

    And an MC with my first name! Awesome :) Thanks for stopping by to critique my page. Good luck!

  13. Your opening sentence hooked me!! I never thought she was dead, but I was a bit confused about reality/dreaming. I think you've got really strong verbs and don't need the ly additions - I didn't get 'only it blared bindingly' - sorry. However, it looks like I'm odd person out because 1768 worked for me. I adore historical novels from that era, earlier to the 1500s. It's a myth that women didn't want more out of life than the harshness thrust upon them. And, yes, a girl's ways changed after her birthday...a child one day; a woman the next (so to speak)...Anyway, I'd definitely read more. Good luck with your contest!

  14. First of all, thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog and comment!
    I like the voice of your writing. But the "ankle" sentence pulled me out too. Not correct word choice.
    And just a nit-pick detail, I'd get rid of the ellipsis. End with period to make writing stronger. Good luck on the contest!!!

  15. I think the tension is awesome but I am confused about what is going on. I would definitely read on. Good Luck

  16. Oh I liked the intensity but darnit I wanted to know what that 'shrouded' form was.


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