Saturday, May 28, 2011

First 250 Words Agent Contest

This one is hosted by Shelley Watters. Post your first 250 words, visit, comment, accept critique, polish and then post your final version on her blog (May 31st) to be judged by Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson and Associates. Visit Shelley's blog to find Mr. Linky.

It doesn't qualify for the Agent part of the contest since it isn't finished, but here is the first 258 words of my summer novel (meaning I work on it in the summer, imagine that!) I hope to finish it this summer. 

Faerie Wings
YA Contemporary Fantasy (I'm not sure yet what to call it).
Jesse wore her cap and gown over the top of her wedding dress. Kevin gazed into her eyes and declared his love with such fervency that half the women sobbed into their hankies. I admit, I might have teared up for a moment myself. Lucky for me, no one else knew about my brief time with Kevin. It had been a test to see if our friendship could be more, but it only took a week for us to agree that we made better friends than lovers.

The next week I introduced him to Jesse, and the rest as they say in the story books is history. Truly happy for both, I performed my maid of honor duties with ease, but grew restless while they danced surrounded by the rest of our graduating class. The music drummed inside my head and all I could think of was getting out.

Jesse sat down beside me. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, why do you ask?”

“I dunno. Usually you’d be out there dancing with us.” Jesse flicked her head toward the gyrating mass of bodies.

“Headache.” I tapped my temple.

“Why don’t you walk through the garden or something? I don’t want any wall flowers at my graduation party.”

“I thought this was your wedding reception.” I squinted at her.

“Of course it is, but Daddy wouldn’t pay for both, so I’m combining them. Just because I got married doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the end of high school.” She laughed and started bobbing her shoulders in time with the music.

Well, what do you think? Is it too slow a start? That's my big concern, but I've been told I "rush" things, and I'm trying to slow it down a bit. This leads to the inciting incident, so I think its the right place to start. The bombshell falls in the next 88 words.

If you liked it, what was it you liked? Would you keep reading?

Oh, and what would you call a novel set in our day/age/world that also has magic and faeries?

Thanks in advance for any and all comments!

25 comments:

  1. I'm absolutely no expert on naming genres, but I'd call a novel set in present day with fantasy elements an urban fantasy.

    I think this is a great start and not too slow. I think a good way to grab reader attention right away without necessarily starting with a bombshell is to make the reader ask a question that isn't answered right away.

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  2. As for genre...I'd go with fantasy. The start isn't too slow, but there is one part that made me a do a double take.

    “Why don’t you walk through the garden or something? I don’t want any wall flowers at my graduation party.” This seems a little over the top if they are supposed to be friends. Without really knowing the characters yet, it could just be the personality of Jesse, but it made me pause and broke up what was going on.

    Good luck!

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  3. I agree that the genre would probably be fantasy. In the beginning, I had to go back to the description to see that it's YA, but then I realized that they were graduating from high school as well, that it wasn't just a wedding.
    I think the pace is not too slow but I would have liked a sentence giving us a hint of what might be wrong with the mc. Other than that, it flowed well for me.

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  4. I didn't think it was too slow, I actually thought it was a great introduction. I would take a look at the second paragraph with the the rest as it says portion because I think (??) that it should be the rest (comma) as they say in the story books (comma) is history. I agree that it would be urban fantasy. The pace is good although I am guessing that the friend is jealous or just harsh, as in the previous comment. Great start though.

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  5. pacing is good i think, but i am surprised jesse would have to inform the mc that it was also a graduation party as in the first sentence she is wearing her cap and gown and i assume the maid of honor would be pretty well informed of what was happening at the party...maybe with that cut out the hook in 88 words would come sooner :)

    good work...hurry up summer is going fast :)
    douglas esper
    http://www.douglasesper.com

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  6. I would read on to find out what this has to do with faeries. This must have to do with the contemporary label of your genre.

    I don't feel it was too slow seeing how something exciting happens within the next hundred words. Real life doesn't happen at hyper-speed and never should a book if it is to be believable.

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  7. You got into the characters and the conflict very quickly which is always a plus. I wanted to read on.

    Jai

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  8. I'm interested to hear what the bombshell is...

    For me, the conversation between Jesse and the MC seems a bit forced. I realize what you're going for by having her ask the MC to go walk in the garden and having to explain what the reception is for, but maybe there's a more natural way to do it.

    Love faeries... best of luck!

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  9. Ooh, interesting contest!

    In other news, I tagged ya:

    http://thefarseas.blogspot.com/2011/05/tagged-critique-win-blog-critique-win.html

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  10. Loved the opening line! I actually laughed out loud. Although it did lead me to believe that Jesse was the POV character.

    Pacing is ok. If you wanted to pick up the pace, cut the part about Kevin and save it for later. Then, draw out her transition from happy bride's maid to disgruntled wedding attendee--what you have is telling, show us.

    A stroll through the garden doesn't sound like something a teen would suggest. If the main character needs to go into the garden for certain events to occur, then make sure she has a good reason for going out there.

    I would definitely read on. I love this opening. And I believe that anything set in contemporary times with faeries is considered paranormal.

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  11. I agree, this seems like YA paranormal to me. I also agree that the bride would not have to tell the maid of honor about the wedding/graduation party.

    Interesting opening. I wonder what the bombshell will be.

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  12. Thank you everyone! Urban Fantasy seems to fit the best with paranormal coming in second. I think I'll have to do a bit of research to see what the fine line is between the two before settling. :)

    I'm mulling over a more subtle way to get Ryanne out the door, and a more subtle way to show its a high school graduation and not a college one. I need to differentiate since I think most people will think college age with a wedding.

    Thanks you all for your comments!

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  13. I am really confused as to why she is having her graduation party and her wedding party at the same time. Maybe it will make sense, but when something that out of the ordinary is happening it needs an explanation. This almost seemed like the opening of a sequel to me.

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  14. I didn't think this was too slow, especially as you say the major conflict is introduced in the next 88 words. However, the graduation and wedding being at the same time did confuse me, and made me stop and re-read the opening.

    I'm intrigued as to what the bombshell is!

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  15. Good opening line. The dialogue is a bit off to my ear -- there are some opportunities to make it a bit more realistic.

    Best of luck!

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  16. I like this excerpt. Now I'm vested and want to read more. Excellent job.

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  17. "Wall flower" should be one word.
    Other than that, I don't see anything wrong with this. I like the pacing. I'm interested to see how the fantasy part of the urban fantasy comes together.

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  18. for clarification, fantasy isn't limited to a time period. it can be "contemporary" without saying it is. urban fantasy happens specifically in cities, where the city itself is almost a character in the story. this is probably just fantasy.

    this was good. i wasn't sure if i needed to know about her past with kevin, or if kevin was important. if the inciting incident happens on the next page, then i think you're fine with this pace. nothing in this first 250 really hooked me, though.

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  19. I didn't think it was too slow, but I did think there was a bunch packed into that first paragraph. I didn't think I needed to know she had a week long fling with Kevin right off the bat.
    She's also saying that she performed her maid of honor duties with ease but all she wants to do is get out. To me, that sort of makes her an unreliable narrator. I feel like she must be hung up on Kevin and is fooling herself.
    The image of a graduation cap and gown over a wedding dress is awesome. That's a pairing I've never heard of before! Not a bad start. :)

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  20. Oh no! I'm two stops past mine on the train and I blame your too-engaging blog, Charity. Will comment properly when I make it home! :-)

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  21. Home safe now! Thankfully there was a train coming back in the opposite direction in just a few minutes. That teaches me for getting too involved while on the train!

    I found the comment about high school helpful as I had previously thought it must've been a college graduation, but as others have said, there could be a sneakier way to introduce them. I didn't think there was anything wrong with suggesting a walk through the gardens. If you were worried about it, you could change it to, 'Why don't you go outside and clear your head for a bit?' or something similar...

    I'm interested to know what comes next! :-)

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  22. I really enjoyed reading this - I didn't think it was too fast or too slow, bu-ut - I do think you could condense the first two paragraphs, especially since some of this information is revealed in the latter part of the excerpt. And if the inciting incident occurs in the next 88 words, why not try to bump it up into this 250?
    Just my humble opinion. :)

    As for genre - I would have to read on. I am not an expert. I write paranormal, contemporary, and adventure so I have no experience with faeries - although that does sound like fantasy.

    Great submit though - I would definitely read on!

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  23. I really, really liked this, Charity. I think the opening line was super attention getting and when she tells us about her history with the groom, hello, tension! But then you tell us that they were just friends and that she really doesn't care that he's marrying her best friend. Darn it! I was hoping for more tension related to that. Can't she still have some feelings for the groom, even though they may be overpowered by her desire for her best friend to be happy. That would create a worry cloud over the reader and we'd feel more connected to her.

    I agree with everyone's comments about her dialogue with Jesse. The garden walk seems unrealistic. If you're trying to get the character outside, maybe Jesse should ask if she needs some fresh air since it's likely stuffy with all of the people there. She could point to the backdoor that leads to the garden.

    That being said, I could envision this wedding/graduation party setting easily; good job!

    Thanks for sharing and good luck!

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  24. Great job Charity! I could picture what was going on as I read it. I don't have a huge feel for the MC but I know it is coming. But the first 250 give me a lot of details about some of the characters and am intrigued about what is about to happen. The comments that have been posted seem to be helpful. Good Luck

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  25. The dialogue seems forced, like it's just there to tell the reader what's going on. It contains a lot of details the girls would already know. The last paragraph in particular seems unnatural. That information could be provided in a different manner.

    As for your questions: this does feel a bit rushed to me. There's a lot of information being shared and it's all telling. Maybe start with the wedding so the reader gets to experience Kevin's vows.

    I think you could cut both of the first two paragraphs and start with something like:

    Jesse plopped down beside me, glowing from the the day's excitement.

    "Are you alright?" she asked. Her hands fidgeted with her clothing, her graduation gown and the wedding dress beneath it.


    Thanks for sharing. Good luck!

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