Monday, September 10, 2012

Entry #3

Name: Rebecca Yarros
Book Title: Aeolian
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Tagline:  If you finally had everything, would you be brave enough to destroy it?

First 250: 
“I don’t care how hot he is, no guy is worth throwing yourself off a cliff for.”  The words slipped out of my mouth before that little thing called a filter could stop them from interjecting into the insipid conversation next to me.  By the wide-eyed, gaped-mouth stares I was getting from the girls on the aquatics bench, I’m guessing that was not the input they were looking for.  
            Wait for it.  Wait for it.
            Ah yes, there it was: the awkward moment I was so fond of having when I’d spoken before thinking.  Luckily, their medley was called on the PA, saving us all from my social gaff.  As they disrobed and headed for the fifty-meter, I leaned back against the cold tiles of the wall and slipped my ear buds in, happy to escape my embarrassment.  
So here’s the thing; I had a normal life.  I guess you could call me average, whatever that means.  I was pretty, but in no way a bombshell.  I dove for my high school, but never in the run for captain, or homecoming queen.  That just wasn’t me.  I pulled grades that were good enough to make my parents proud, but not to stand in competition for valedictorian or anything.  I tended to hug the middle ground.
I’m not telling you this so you set your expectations of me low, but rather to make you understand that I wasn’t some extraordinary person.  Instead, there were extraordinary events that I just kind of rolled with.  


  1. My first impression is that you start with dialog, and there is an obvious conversation that has been going about some hot guy, but I'm left confused about it. (I am feeling that your MC is not that interested in guys and speaks her mind, though. Which is fresh.)

    Also, what is the "medley" that is called on the PA? I'm not sure I get that.

    Maybe clarify "disrobed and headed for the fifty-meter." They are at the pool and going to swim, but disrobe makes them sound naked. Do they take off a shirt? Actual robe? I'm not a swimmer so I don't know what one wears before a meet, but most of your readers won't be either, so just clarify.

    I like that your MC is an "average" teenager, but maybe a little more showing instead of telling. I'd suggest condensing the details into one sharp sentence. Just my opinion.

    Overall, I like it. I know its hard to convey much in just 250 words, but I always hear: hook the reader right away...I'm not quite "hooked" yet, but I'm nibbling.

  2. Great tagline. I like your voice, but I think you need to self-edit. Some of it reads like it was fun to write and you couldn't bear to part with it. For instance, the beginning of this is great, "The words slipped out of my mouth before that little thing called a filter could stop them," but I'd cut it there.

  3. You've definitely got an interesting mc - from what I've seen thus far, that's what will pull me into the story. The exposition doesn't do that for me. It comes off like the mc is navel-gazing. There's nothing inherently interesting about being average. Going on about it doesn't tell me anything about what might happen next.

    Instead of the exposition, I'd much rather have that opening scene fleshed out. Then you could SHOW all those features, at least the ones important in the moment. Then, when things really begin to happen, I'm grounded with your mc and world. I love the situation you've set up - funny and poignant.

    For such an average girl, the mc uses some pretty erudite words. Disrobe. Interject. Insipid. Social gaff. Unless this is intentional, I suggest you speak the whole thing out loud. Does it sound like a teenager? Since this is in first person, everything must be in her "voice" except other characters' dialogue.

    Insofar as the tagline, I really like the concept, but not in question form. What if my answer is "no?"

    Good luck!

  4. I really like the tagline; it makes me curious about just what's at stake. I'm inclined to agree with the others about the narrator's couple of paragraphs explaining herself, although my issue was just that I felt it pulled me out of the story before I even had much of a chance to get into it; the transition from dialogue to self-description was a bit jarring. It's so hard to include those details in the story when you're writing first-person, but if you could find a way to do it I think it'd work better. I do like the narrator's voice of the opening several lines, though - a hint of sarcastic humour.

  5. Thank you so much you guys! I really appreciate the critique. I had the prologue first, but I didn't know which one to submit, thinking it should be chapter one, but here's the first 250 of the prologue, I guess that's where I hoped to grab someone. I'll take a look at all your suggestions!


    I was stupid. So damn stupid. Betrayal had been right there in front of me, just waiting, and I let it in. No, I invited it in, ignored the warning he so blatantly gave. He told me not to trust anyone, but I never thought he meant himself.
    Footsteps echoed down the stone corridor to my gilded prison. I picked myself up off the ground slowly; testing out my weight on an ankle that was certainly sprained, if not broken. He wouldn’t find me lying on the ground ever again.
    I barely survived the night. He tried to break me and he almost succeeded, but I was stronger than he thought. I guess he never knew me that well.
    Bruises clothed my back, my lip felt ten times its normal size, and I was pretty sure that coppery flavor coursing through my mouth was my own blood. My once perfectly-coiffed hair lay haggard, my nails bitten to the quick, and my left eye was swollen shut. Every breath assaulted my cracked ribs as they labored to expand. It hurt to freaking breathe.
    Why didn’t they tell me the truth from the beginning? Instead, they kept a thousand secrets, and each one led me here. Their idea of protection may as well have signed my death warrant. They had kept me blind and now I would pay the price. We would pay the price.
    Thousands of images played through my head. My mother. My father. Him. Would he ever know what happened to me? Seventeen was too young to die, especially when I had finally found something worth fighting for.

    1. Wow... that formatted so PRETTY! Sorry about that, guys!

  6. Like Natasha, I was a little thrown by starting this off with dialogue. I felt like I was thrown in the middle of the conversation with no context. And her subsequent comment about "filter" felt off to me because, frankly, her hot guy comment didn't really sound so crazy. But then again, I'm not really sure who she is talking to. If she is talking to her BFF, then the comment seems perfectly reasonable to me. But then (I think) they were at a swim meet? Note: the disrobe comment made me cringe a little. It sounded like they were getting naked, but then I realized they were in bathing suits. LOL! Perhaps make the setting a little clearer.

    I guess I'm concerned at this point that the story hasn't really begun. This is a lot of backstory, but I want to get to the story! Your MC even tries justifying the backstory (saying she wasn't extraordinary). This is a lot of telling rather than showing. I'd prefer to get right to the meet of the story.

    Of course, just my 2 cents!

    (entry #21)

    1. Thank you very much! I will take a lot of that into consideration!

  7. I'm not fond of the tagline. It's daring to ask a rhetorical question. Lit agents, usually, ask for them not to be included in query letters because they (like myself) tend to think it's easiest to answer the obvious way, which would be "no" in this case and then they'd just move on to the next query. Also, a lot of them have come out saying they just generally dislike them or they are over used. Plus... it makes me wonder why would you? If you had everything, why destroy it? You really don't give a reason why (like, say, if you do it'll save the world or something)

    That being said, I really like how you started the story. It's in-the-moment like we're dropped into the story as it's already on-going, which I like. It's interesting and I come to really like the difference between your MC and the other girls. Then there's the info dumping that comes and I'm not so sure it's the right place...? Because it's like she's telling us her story, knowing she's talking to the audience, and I'd rather the MC or narrator not talk to me as a reader. If you remove the end part "I’m not telling you this so you... I just kind of rolled with." then I'd like it better. Don't tell me that, show me it.