Monday, February 13, 2012

Hook Line & Sinker Blogfest

If you are looking for some of the other blogfests from this week:
Critique Partner Blogfest
That's YAmore Blogfest
Today is the Hook Line & Sinker Blogfest hosted by Justin Parente. Click the link for rules and to find the other participants. I'm supposed to post the first 500-1000 words and see if it hooks you. Here are some questions you can answer for me at the end.

  • Does the character have a personality you can fall into easily? Or at least one that you would like to learn more about?
  • Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they're introduced?
  • Too much setting or not enough?
  • Lastly, would you read more?

And now I give you the first 700 words of Eleena's Tale.

Imagine the grass taller. Image found Here.
I hid from Mother’s gaze inside the tall blue-green grass in the park bubble behind our home, but not from her voice. It called for me from opposite sides of the field. She must have sent the message bots to call me. I rose up on one elbow and peaked over the grass. Sure enough, three message bots glided around playing the memo, but Mother stood by the house just outside the bubble wall.

“Eleena Talrano, come to the house immediately.” Mother’s voice echoed around me.

I sunk to the ground and continued counting the clouds. She sounded scared. It was wrong to run away, but five minutes of dreaming couldn’t hurt anything. Studying all the time was boring, and the evacuation traffic made it almost impossible to concentrate insided the house. With the war getting closer, most of my friends had left. Nothing was fun anymore.

“Eleena, come to the house now!” Father’s voice joined Mother’s. 

Father never came home before dark. I jumped up and looked toward the house. Mother was gone, but Father stood with his hands on his hips. My heart pounded uncomfortably. He had been so moody lately, always yelling, or worse, silent. 

“Coming.” I grabbed my shoes and ran to the edge of the park. The traffic noise filled the air as soon as I stepped out of the bubble. “Why are you home so early?” 

“Come inside quickly.” He stepped into the darkness of the house.

I chewed on my fingernail and followed. Mother clung to a tall redheaded man. Although I hadn’t seen him for two years, I recognized my favorite uncle back from the stars.

“Uncle Murph!” I moved to hug him but stopped when Mother turned toward me. Her tear streaked face contorted into a mass of wrinkles I never noticed before.

“You have to go with your Uncle. He’ll explain everything on the way.” Mother spoke over the rattling of the dishes as another shuttle flew overhead.

I glanced from her to Father and back to Uncle Murphy. They all stared at the ceiling. Mother’s fingers twisted and tugged at each other, Father’s eyes looked watery, and Uncle’s smile didn’t reach his eyes. It was getting hard to breathe, then Mother pulled me to her, squeezing too tightly.

 “Where am I going?” My words came out muffled against mother’s chest. She smelled like pasta sauce.

“You’re going to stay with Murphy for a while.” Father spoke as he peeled me away from Mother and hugged me. “My little star, you’re going to travel.”

“Why?” My voice cracked. Were they sending me away like all my friends? Was the war really coming to Artemese?

“There’s no time. Listen to Uncle and you'll be fine.” Father pulled away from me.

“We must hurry to catch the shuttle. Is there no way to convince you to come with us?” Uncle Murphy held Mother’s hand but his eyes watched Father.

I looked at Father in time to see him shake his head. Uncle Murphy reached for the bag on the table. Mother hung a pack of food over my shoulder and kissed my head before turning back to Uncle.

“Peace on your path, Brother.” Tears slipped down Mother’s cheeks as she stepped to Father’s side.

I waited for the standard reply, but Uncle paused. He caught me watching him.

“Burn a light to guide me home, dearest sister.” He sounded like he had swallowed his gum berries without chewing them.

It brought tears to my eyes. 

“Go quickly.” Father gently pushed me to the door as Uncle Murphy walked through it. “Be a good girl, and remember we love you.”

Uncle grabbed my hand and pulled me into the crowded street. People had abandoned their transports in the middle of the road. It seemed like the whole world was running to the space port. My feet beat a rhythm that matched time with my heart as we ran.

The pack Mother handed me slapped up and down on my thigh.

Good-bye.

              Good-bye.

                             Good-bye.

28 comments:

  1. Hi Charity,

    So this is really great. You certainly have the pace nailed. It continuously moved from the initial conflict of the bots finding her (which could have been a good or bad thing) to her parents revealing that she is being sent away. You've built your world in a select few words also, but a suggestion would be to play on her counting the stars a bit more. Is there lore surrounding the stars, such as constellations? Just a tiny but more might go a long way. What's beyond the stars? Again, just a little bit. Save enough for the moment when we're there.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for hosting Justin, and for the suggestion. One sentence about the war raging out there might be nice.

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  2. I think the premise is interesting, and I would want to read more. It piqued my curiosity.

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    1. Yay! The trick is keeping that interest. A friend of mine read the outline and said it was predictable. That means I've got to dig dealer for my twists.

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  3. This is nicely written and a good start, but I wish I had a better idea of the age of the narrator. I might or might not read more; it's the kind of story I need to be in a particular mood to read.

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    1. Thanks. Do you have a guess for her age? This story will cover many years, but working in age clues for the beginning is on my list of to-dos.

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  4. Holy cats. Yes, this had a definite hook. Good job!

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  5. This is good, and I'm interested, though I'd like to know what the blurb is for this story. I find that I'm really concerned about a few things, first that I don't have any understanding of why it is that her parents are staying when other people are leaving their cars in the middle of the street to run for the space port. That sort of thing implies imminent death of those left behind. It sort of seems like a good excuse to get rid of her parents, and that's why I want to know more about why they are choosing to stay behind. I also agree with M Pepper that I'd have to be in the right mood to read a book where the narrator is about to lose EVERYTHING. Those books can be hard emotionally, so I'm a little concerned (hence my need of the back cover blurb to let me know whether or not this is that kind of book).

    The good: Great voice, I feel like she's 10 or 11. I also liked how the conflict moved quickly from her personal issues to the bigger picture. Nicely done.

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    1. Rena, thanks for your comments and for taking the time to explain your thoughts in more detail. Also yay on the age guessing. She is 10 so that makes me happy.

      I haven't written the back blurb yet, but I think I'll work on it this week. It'll help me stay focused and help readers. Most of your questions/concerns are addressed in the next 2 scenes--why her parents are staying, the fact that they think they can win, but they want to make sure Eleena is safe. This will be an emotionally hard book to read if I can do a good job writing it. I want it to be hard. This is the first story where I want to make people think about choices and the difference they can make when they decide to act. I think it'll take a long time to write this book the way I feel it in my heart, and a lot of digging deep into some of the darkest recesses of my mind.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. It's very intriguing, and there are elements I really like, including the character voice. However, it all happens far too quickly. In less than five hundred words, we've gone from the setting to the inciting event with almost no sense of the world that's being unbalanced by it.

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    1. Great points stu. I guess I didn't build much of this world because she won't be coming back to it. My problem is I either don't give enough background or I wallow in backstory. I love backstory, perhaps that's why I try to avoid it.

      I'll keep working on balance. What kind of things would you like to know more about here before the inciting incident? Just out of curiosity.

      thanks!

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  7. 1. It's easy to tell this is science fiction / space opera, and this is obviously a family scene. I'm not really sure how old the MC is, and I think her personality needs a little development. I see traces of her parents' personalities, but the ones of the MC are not crystal clear.

    2. Adequate. For me, it lacks a little depth, but that might be because of the accursed word limit.

    3. The setting was the real strong point. You paid attention to details such as outdoor traffic, robots, and bubble gardens.

    4. Personally, I have an aversion to stories written in the first person singular. But that's just me. I know this form is popular these days, but I'm old-fashioned. But to be truthful, that's the only excuse I would have for not wanting to read this. If you changed it to 3rd person I would buy it at a book store.

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    1. Good to know. I tend to write my first drafts in first person and then switch to third at some later revision. It helps me write faster and get a little closer to the MC.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

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  8. I thought you had a hook for sure. I would develope the voice of the mc a bit more. I didn't know her age and she seemed a little bland. Is she sassy, snarky, timid, dreamy, airheaded.

    I would read on because the plot and setting were very interesting, but I doubt I would enjoy reading about a 10 year old. So keep in mind, if your mc is 10, you could be cutting your audience to mg.

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  9. I just realize I said I don't know how old she is, then I talk about her being 10. haha -from your example I didn't know her age, but I read the comments and then learned she's 10 :)

    My first wip I had the mc at 10, but it was my cp who pointed out how hard it is to relate to a pre-puberty mc. Even early high school is hard to relate to as a 28 year old woman. So what ever the age your mc is- is probably going to be your audience (round about) so keep that in mind :)--Nothing wrong with mg, huge audience.

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    1. Thanks for both comments Amber. Eleena starts out 10 but we quickly move through the years. By the time I'm done it will definitely NOT be a MG book. The stuff she's going to go through might push the YA bounds because of the darkness of it.

      Luckily she's only ten for a short while. In all honesty, this will probably get dropped and blended in as backstory by the final revision, but this is first draft and so I write it all. :)

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  10. I thought it was a good and classic hook. Although you may need a better excuse for ditching the parents to do so is a good choice for a ya novel so bravo. It bothered me that her uncle was referred to as simply uncle in the narrative voice even though no one called him that. I didn't personally feel like the pace was too fast. Great job!

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    1. I agree with you on the Uncle thing. I need to find a good nickname or something to call him throughout. My problem right now is I'm not sure what that will be.

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  11. I don't really think this is the best place to start your story. Nothing really hooked me besides your awesome world-building. ;) I feel like the dialogue, while perhaps appropriate for this situation, was just like any other in any number of scenes like this. Slip in more about the characters if you feel like yes, this is the scene where your story begins. He's her favorite uncle, why? Is it his personality? Does he bring her things? If she hasn't seem him for two years, she's not just going to stand and stare. Show us all of this, pull us deeper into not only your MC's world, but your MC herself.

    I got the young voice.

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    1. Great insight Brooke. I'm thinking it won't stay as my beginning for the very things you mentioned.

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  12. Definitely would like to read more, but would also like more depth and specificity. It's a fine line though, because I do like how briskly this moves as it stands, but it wouldn't hurt to add a few lines of explanation along the points that Rena and Brooke brought up, but I don't see why it shouldn't be the beginning to your story, especially if Eleena is your main character. Just answer a few more of the "why's" here and keep it moving and you should be fine.

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    1. Thanks Rob! Will definitely think along these lines. I'm leaning more with Brooke that this might NOT be the best place to start, but will use it somewhere as a flashback or something.

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  13. I think you do a really god job of setting this up... it definitely makes a reader want to continue to figure out why she'd being sent away.

    Voice is OK... not completely engaging... might need a bit more text for voice to come out, which is fine.

    As to setting, I can definitely feel it's fantasy/ futuristic and I'm sure more of the setting will come.

    I'd read on.

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  14. Ooh, this is a good hook! I loved the MC's voice, I liked the message bots, and I loved the hurried goodbyes as she has to go away with uncle. Thanks for sharing!

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  15. I have no idea what genre this is, however you hooked me. True, I am having an emotional day, but this post made goosebumps rise on my arms and chills run through my body. Then my eyes teared up when I realized she was being forced to leave. My goodness, how sad. So that answers your first question.


    1) Does the character have a personality you can fall into easily? Or at least one that you would like to learn more about? I do want to learn more about her. She is young, and I don't how young. And what will happen next? Will you fast forward me through time and she'll be all grown and 25? Gah... When will I know?

    2) Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they're introduced? It seems so, though there are only brief descriptions of the world. From what you gave me it seems like their world has been turned on its ear.

    3) Too much setting or not enough? There could be a bit more description of what is wrong, more about the impending war, yet I feel like its not entirely needed either.

    4)Lastly, would you read more? Yes.

    Great post!

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  16. Yes, I completely hooked in. Into the MC, the setting, the plot intro. I feel it was just enough intrigue to get me to read on, but not to vague. The intensity of the emotions carries this piece. I know the world is about to change for Eleena, so spending too much time building this setting would be a waste of wordcount.

    I am certain you will develop Eleena's character around the loss of her friends, her parents, her home, and possible her childhood as the war progresses.

    Well done Charity.

    ..........dhole

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  17. Hooked from the start. The story is starting right off the bat. We see the bit of defiance in the mc, but also that she knows when enough is enough, recognizing the impending disaster (or whatever). You started your world building w/out backstory or explanation, right off with the bots and the park bubble. Overall, I'm impressed.

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  18. In ending life as Eleena knew it, you really had a great, slap in the face hook of an introduction.
    Sorry to get here so late, but glad to find your blog. :)

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