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A PRACTITIONER'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK - I Will Critique Back!! (NA Urban Fantasy, 250)

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#1 TheBest

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 03:13 PM

Here are the first 250 words of my book. In querying, I've gotten rejections saying that agents were not "Engaged enough" by the first chapter. How can I make this more engaging?
 

Also, my first chapter has a different tone than the rest of the book's usually upbeat, light-hearted voice. I tried to set the scene in conflict, to draw the reader in and raise the stakes.

 

I will critique you, if you critique me.

 

Thanks!

 

 

Staring off the edge of a skyscraper, nothing else matters. I don’t care about my job. I don’t care about my future. I don’t care about the deadly explosions ripping through downtown Los Angeles. I don’t even care about that organic quart of ice-cream I forgot to put in the fridge, which by now is probably a puddle of goo. Six Hundred and Sixty feet up, there is no noise. Just ringing in my ears and a whole lot of peace.

    I hear peace in my thumping heartbeat. 
    I see peace in the whirling ball of light below me. 
    I feel peace in the wind and rain battering my face. 
    There’s even some warm peace running down my leg now.
    It would be so easy to take one step, and let everything slip away. One moment I’m a person, the next I’m a red mess on the pavement. I look down again. The people below me look up -- at least they’ll have a story to tell. I’m going to do it. I’m going to...
    But like everything else, it doesn’t last. I’m a long way up -- I could die! I don’t want to die. I don’t want to hit the concrete ninety miles per hour and stain Hollywood boulevard with my brains. Besides, my life isn’t so bad. There’s really a lot to live for. Come to think of it, I do want that melted ice cream. 
    I care again. 
    I jump back, and collapse on the roof. 


#2 asmcdermott

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 02:36 PM

 

Here are the first 250 words of my book. In querying, I've gotten rejections saying that agents were not "Engaged enough" by the first chapter. How can I make this more engaging?
 

Also, my first chapter has a different tone than the rest of the book's usually upbeat, light-hearted voice. I tried to set the scene in conflict, to draw the reader in and raise the stakes.

 

I will critique you, if you critique me.

 

Thanks!

 

 

Staring off the edge of a skyscraper, nothing else matters. I don’t care about my job. I don’t care about my future. I don’t care about the deadly explosions ripping through downtown Los Angeles. I don’t even care about that organic quart of ice-cream I forgot to put in the fridge, which by now is probably a puddle of goo. Six Hundred and Sixty feet up, there is no noise. Just ringing in my ears and a whole lot of peace.

    I hear peace in my thumping heartbeat. 
    I see peace in the whirling ball of light below me. 
    I feel peace in the wind and rain battering my face. 
    There’s even some warm peace running down my leg now. You might want to avoid repeating peace so many times, though this last line is pretty funny
    It would be so easy to take one step, and let everything slip away. One moment I’m a person, the next I’m a red mess on the pavement. I look down again. The people below me look up -- at least they’ll have a story to tell. I’m going to do it. I’m going to...
    But like everything else, it doesn’t last. I’m a long way up -- I could die! I don’t want to die. I don’t want to hit the concrete ninety miles per hour and stain Hollywood boulevard with my brains. Not a big deal, but I'm a little confused by the geography here since there are no skyscrapers in Hollywood, only in other parts of LA Besides, my life isn’t so bad. There’s really a lot to live for. Come to think of it, I do want that melted ice cream. 
    I care again. 
    I jump back, and collapse on the roof. 

 

I really like this opening. The only thing I would maybe add is more of a reason for the MC to change his/her mind about suicide. Maybe they could spot something on the ground that gives them pause, or recollect some happy memory. I'd just like to know what they have to live for (other than the melted ice cream). Good luck!



#3 TheBest

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 06:39 PM

Ok, so I took your advice, and looked into geography. You were right. I fixed that up. As for the reason not to commit suicide, that's elaborated a lot more in the next few paragraphs. What do you all think of this one?

 

​As always, critique me, and I'll mercilessly critique you!!

 

Thanks!

 

 

   Staring off the edge of a skyscraper, nothing else matters. I don’t care about my job. I don’t care about my future. I don’t care about the deadly explosions ripping through downtown Los Angeles. I don’t even care about that organic quart of ice-cream I forgot to put in the fridge, which by now is probably a puddle of goo. Six Hundred and Sixty feet up, there is no noise. Just ringing in my ears and a whole lot of peace.

    I hear peace in my thumping heartbeat.

    I see peace in the whirling ball of light below me.

    I feel peace in the wind and rain battering my face.

    There’s even some warm peace running down my leg now.

    It would be so easy to take one step, and let everything slip away. One moment I’m a person, the next I’m a red mess on the pavement. I look down again. The people below me look up -- at least they’ll have a story to tell. I’m going to do it. I’m going to...

    But like everything else, it doesn’t last. I’m a long way up -- I could die! I don’t want to die. I don’t want to hit the concrete ninety miles per hour and stain Olympic boulevard with my brains. Besides, my life isn’t so bad. There’s really a lot to live for. Come to think of it, I do want that melted ice cream.

    I care again.

    I jump back, and collapse on the roof. And just like that my will has been defeated by a quart of Mint-Chocolate chip.



#4 bkarperien

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:55 AM

I like this, but I understand (at least, in my interpretation) what was being said about it not being "engaging". I found that while this should be a high stakes, terrifying, pull-you-in-and-grab-you-by-the-throat situation (standing on the edge of a skyscraper contemplating suicide), and while the voice is great, and the humor is genuinely funny, I don't feel any connection to the character here. Maybe because I don't know what put them up there in the first place. Maybe because this is the opening page and I'm ninety-nine percent sure your protag isn't gonna die, because unless this is a ghost story, then there'd be no novel. Maybe it's because their voice is so light that I'm not actually afraid they're gonna jump. I don't get a sense of desperation, of failure, of the senseless self-hate and feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness that can drive someone into that position. And if all they want is the rush of thinking about death, thinking about the fall, I don't get that sense either, the adrenaline, the racing heart, even though you describe ringing ears. Instead, I get a sense of apathy, a self-deprecating sense of humor, and peace. Overall, it's well written, it's humerous, and it's a little bit shocking. But I don't get pulled into the moment, I don't get pulled into the character's head, and I don't get pulled into the story.  So, while the action is engaging, the humor is engaging, emotionally, I don't feel engaged.

I hope that helps, at least a little bit. I wish I could give more direct feedback, but line-by-line, there's nothing wrong with this (In my unprofessional opinion, at least). I like the writing, the voice. It's good. But if you want to make it more engaging, I suggest going for more emotional oomph. :)


Check out my query :)

Or, if you're really awesome, check out my synopsis.

 


#5 jaustail

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 08:48 AM

JMO:

 

 

Staring off the edge of a skyscraper, nothing else matters. I don’t care about my job. I don’t care about my future. I don’t care about the deadly explosions ripping through downtown Los Angeles. I don’t even care about that organic quart of ice-cream I forgot to put in the fridge, which by now is probably a puddle of goo. Six Hundred and Sixty(I suggest don't use all capitals: Six hundred and sixty feet) feet up, there is no noise. Just ringing in my ears and a whole lot of peace.(there'd also be a lot of wind. maybe mention that. you've mentioned it later but i suggest put that here in this sentence else it feels there's only noise and peace around.)

    I hear peace in my thumping heartbeat(so she's not at peace which was mentioned in last sentence)
    I see peace in the whirling ball of light below me. 
    I feel peace in the wind and rain battering my face. 
    There’s even some warm peace running down my leg now.
    It would be so easy to take one step, and let everything slip away. One moment I’m a person, the next I’m a red mess on the pavement. I look down again. The people below me look up(are they screaming at her pleading with her to stop the act?) -- at least they’ll have a story to tell. I’m going to do it. I’m going to...
    But like everything else, it doesn’t last. I’m a long way up -- I could die! I don’t want to die. I don’t want to hit the concrete ninety miles per hour and stain Hollywood boulevard with my brains(even her body. maybe add that. like...my body scarred with blade I used to deal life with). Besides, my life isn’t so bad. There’s really a lot to live for. Come to think of it, I do want that melted ice cream(lol)
    I care again. 
    I jump back, and collapse on the roof.
 
 
There is an undertone of humor running through this. It was an easy read. Good luck.






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