Thursday, August 21, 2014

Honorary Warrior, Christy 3 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.
Marlana'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 (1)glimmered -- as if it possessed its own light source.
(1) This is really intriguing and you've caught my attention. :) 
(2) Can you take this even further? Is it glowing? Is it a pulsating light?
She ran a finger over its tufts. (1)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.
(1) I think there's also an opportunity here to show us more. What physical indicators are present that shows Katie that it's strong? For example: when she runs her finger across the tufts, does it make a sound?  
As she held it, something tugged at her inside. She had an urge to answer, to yell out, “yes!” and “here I come!” It startled her, but instead of dropping the feather, she curled her fingers even more tightly around it.
(1)She was in her secret place, a tucked-back nook in the woods near her house. She guarded its secret like a dragon hoarding a jeweled chalice, (2)never mentioning it to anyone, careful no one saw her coming or going between its branches.
(1) I think this paragraph might serve better as your opening. For some reason, it feels a little like backstory placed here. 
(2) Possible cut since its reiterated what the previous sentence established.
She first discovered the spot between a thick of bushes and trees draped in green hanging moss. (1)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 (2)had trekked the woods near her house, pulling down palm fronds to cover the dome. She named her hideout Palm Island.
(1) Awesome description - I can totally see it.
(2) Add 'had' -- had trekked
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.
(1)Just then, she was (2)startled by a quick flash of movement through the layers of branches and vines. Then a stir of leaves. A step-crunch-step.
(1) 'Just then' slow down the action / diminishes the tension. Possible cut. Also, I think you could combine this paragraph with the paragraph below
(2) Repeat word
 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.
How does this make her feel? 
The surrounding air thickened and grew damp, the sounds of night distant, muffled as if swallowed in a cloud.
Beautiful! 
Her grandmother’s voice sliced through the murky air. Katie whipped her head toward home. (1)At that moment, a gust of wind snatched the feather from her hand. She (2)darted to catch it, but it streaked away, (3)spiraling into the night.
(1) Again - this is a slow down phrase IMHO. Possible cut. 
(2) I love the verb 'darted' but with all the imagery you're painting, here I just wanted it simple because I felt darted sounded a bit forced. Possibly change to  -- She tried to catch it
(3)Great imagery
And it took some part of her with it -- a small, lonely spark of light that hadn’t been there before.
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. 
Repeat phrase.  
In the house, pots and pans clanked from the kitchen and the smell of sautĂ©ed onions and ground beef filled the air – her grandmother starting dinner.
I feel like I'm missing a sentence or two of entering the house
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.
This foreshadowing doesn't work for me here, maybe give us more of a reason why she needed more time.
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.
Aha. Okay - I'd suggest putting this before the line that she needed more time to work up some courage
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 feels forced IMHO and I'm wondering why she'd think of other girls feeling like this since other girls she's referring to probably don't have a mother dying of cancer.
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.
You are very gifted at painting imagery through your words. I'm very curious about the giant feather and am wondering what important role it will play in Katie's story.

Here are a few of your lines that struck me as especially awesome.

* A single bead of water slid from the feather’s base to its tip, glittering in the moonlight and falling to the ground.
She guarded its secret like a dragon hoarding a jeweled chalice,
The past year had vanished like a word written too close to the ocean’s shore.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Marlana!! Wow, thank you! I always love your edits!!! You have an incredible way of distilling language until it just sparkles. And good reminders about phrases and words that slow things down. I just love language so much I can't seem to stop piling it on - ha ha. Great notes about parts that seemed out of place or where setting was getting lost/excluded. You're amazing!!!
    Christy

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  2. Awe Christy. Thank you so much. You have a wonderful way of painting the world with your words and I thank you again for trusting me with them. For me, the greatest thing about providing feedback, is the knowledge I pick up along the way. So thank you. :)

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