Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Honorary Warrior, Christy 2 of 5

We want to thank those who signed up for an opportunity to become an honorary warrior. It's scary to put your words out there to be evaluated by your peers--especially in a setting such as this. We applaud your bravery and truly appreciate you trusting us with your beloved words. 

For the next two weeks, we'll be looking at our winners first pages and providing our thoughts. Week Two: Christy.

Christy submitted a MG fantasy titled: ANCORA. Click here to see Christy's submission free of any comments. Every few days this week, we'll post one of our critiques of these first pages. To see all the critiques (once they have all posted) you can click the quick link under label titled Honorary Warriors.

Please know, we found it is extremely difficult to provide feedback on a blog post without the document becoming a bit of a mess. For this reason, some of our 'THIS IS AWESOME' comments may be at the bottom of the document. Areas that caused hesitation, questions, and praise are highlighted with the reason pasted immediately after the paragraph.
Diane's Thoughts:
Katie twisted the stark white feather between her fingertips. Three feet from base to tip, it was unlike any she’d ever seen. Not just because of its size, but because of the way it glimmered -- as if it possessed its own light source.
What a cool detail! 
She ran a finger over its tufts. How could it be so strong and soft at the same time? A single bead of water slid from the feather’s base to its tip, glittering in the moonlight and falling to the ground.
Replace with 'length' to avoid repetition base to tip. J
As she held it, something tugged at her inside. (1)She had an urge to answer, to yell out, “yes!” and “here I come!(2)It startled her, but instead of dropping the feather, she curled her fingers even more tightly around it.
(1)Makes me so curious! I’m guessing this is not an animal feather. J
(2) Replace 'It' with 'The need'
She was in her secret place, a tucked-back nook in the woods near her house. She guarded (1)its secret like a dragon hoarding a jeweled chalice, never mentioning (2)it to anyone, careful no one saw her coming or going between its branches.
 (1) Replace with 'the'
(2) Replace with 'her hideout'
She (1)first discovered the spot between a thick of bushes and trees draped in green hanging moss. (2)The dome of limbs and vines arched from the ground like the half-circle monkey bars on a playground. To her it was a fortress, a castle, a secret keep. She trekked the woods near her house, pulling down palm fronds to cover the dome. She named her hideout Palm Island.
 (1) This implies a time frame. So at the end of the sentence tell when. For example: “She first discovered the spot between a thick of bushes and trees draped in the green hanging moss when she was eight.”
(2) Great description. J I can picture it. J
Katie escaped to Palm Island anytime she needed to be alone. Days like today.
As she examined the feather, a shiver ran all the way down her spine and left a trail of goose bumps to her toes. It mattered. Yet she did not know why, or how much – only that it did.
Just then, she was startled by a quick flash of movement through the layers of branches and vines. Then a stir of leaves. A step-crunch-step.
 From her shadowed alcove, she pulled back a branch and peered out, the feather clutched at her side. Ahead, another white flash swished through panels of shadow and light. She walked toward it, but the footsteps receded. The whiteness vanished.
Ooooo this must be the owner of the feather! 
The surrounding air thickened and grew damp, the sounds of night distant, muffled as if swallowed in a cloud.
Her grandmother’s voice sliced through the murky air. Katie whipped her head toward home. At that moment, a gust of wind snatched the feather from her hand. She darted to catch it, but it streaked away, spiraling into the night.
Add 'sky' (..spiraling into the night sky) Just because below she is looking up. J
And it took some part of her with it -- a small, lonely spark of light that hadn’t been there before.
You’re doing a great job of building suspense around this feather and its owner. I can’t wait to see who it is! 
Katie remained staring up long after the faintest glimmer had vanished.
Her grandmother’s third call broke the spell over her, and she turned toward home. 

In the house, pots and pans clanked from the kitchen and the smell of saut̩ed onions and ground beef filled the air Рher grandmother starting dinner.
Katie would offer to help, but her Grandma would only usher her away, telling her to go visit her mom. She needed a little more time to work up the courage.
Interesting. This goes along with the mention that today was a secret hideout kind of day
In her room, she slumped to the floor. A year ago, the doctors said her mother had two years to live. The past year had vanished like a word written too close to the ocean’s shore.
LOVE!!!! J
Katie absently lifted both hands to cover her heart. A painful ache started there the day she learned her mother had cancer, and had only grown worse since. She wondered if other girls her age felt this way. She was only twelve but sometimes felt as though she’d lived twelve lifetimes.
This fits perfect. J I guessed middle grade from the voice. Great job!! J
Her cat Coal squeezed in the doorway and rubbed against her sneakers. His eyes met hers and he greeted her with a trilling mew.
“Hi Coal,” Katie said. She stroked his silky black fur. He purred and dropped to his back, looking up at her from half slit eyes.

“It was a rough day,” she said, scratching his stomach. He took her hand between his front paws and licked one of her knuckles, then rolled on his side. His tail hit the carpet in soft thumps.
Is it because she visited her mother earlier or for some other reason? SO curious to know! J You did a fantastic job of weaving little bits of info about you MC and what she is experiencing without dragging me through tons of back story. J And that feather! I’m guessing guardian angel? You’ve caught my interest! J  


  1. Hi Diane! I am totally smiling -- so happy that you felt curious about the feather and what would happen next. Thank you so much for the great edits. I loved what you said about first indicating a timeframe. I have never thought about that, and noting more detail about when Katie found the hideout is such a cool idea -- I LOVE that! Thank you so much -- this whole opportunity has been such a wonderful experience and I'm so grateful for your expert feedback!

    1. Yay! I'm so glad you found my feedback helpful! :) I really enjoyed this snippet of your story. Katie's voice shines! Best of luck to you with your writing endeavors!! :)