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July 25, 2011

GUTGAA Week 4 Novel Critique Contest

For the final week of the Gearin' Up To Get An Agent Blog-o-Rama on Deana Barnhart's Blog, writers are to post their first 200 words of a completed YA, MG or PB manuscript and hop around to each other's blogs to give feedback. After using that feedback, we all submit our final versions for review, and a chance to win critiques from Literary Agent Kathleen Rushall and author Monica B.W.

Title of Book: Arrow of the Mist
Genre: YA Fantasy
First 200 Words:


Koun’s Her hound's howl bark alerted Lia to the pair of horses charging up the path. She Lia squinted in the dusky light and recognized Da’s friend, Kenneth, upon one horse. Then her insides went cold. Across the other horse’s back lay Da’s limp body.
Lia dropped the harvested mallow root and sped from her garden to the cottage, her hound darting ahead. Ma’s scream shot like arrows a bolt through her heart, but Kenneth’s words, “He’s alive, Carin,” offered Lia a morsel of hope.
            Kenneth carried him into the cottage, and Lia caught a glimpse of Da’s torn and bloodied clothing. “I’ll fetch Granda,” she cried, and hurried to her filly.  
Clad in her usual boy’s breeches and high leather boots, Lia raced her horse down the path with her heart pounding in rhythm to the hoof beats. Stay strong, Da! Just a little longer, and Granda will be there to heal you.
Why hadn’t the her dreams forewarned her? They showed her when the mares or ewes would give birth, or when visitors were coming from afar, but her fate-dreams had failed to give a timely warning for Da.   

18 comments:

  1. Oooh! Great beginning! Good luck in the contest! :)

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  3. I really like this, it definitely hooks. Good luck, I'm totally looking forward to reading the whole thing!

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  4. I legitimately wouldn't change a thing. It was great. Description was spot-on and not invasive, over-done or thin. I love the names, and the accent gave the story a clear voice and mystery. Loved it. I'd read this book.

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  5. The first graph hooked me, especially the sentence about Da’s limp body, while words like "Lia dropped the harvested mallow root" showed me Lia's setting and life beautifully. I like the psychic dreams part too.

    P.S. I'm a new follower!

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  6. Love the bit about the dreams at the end - talk about a hook!

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  7. I really think this is great as it is. But, if I had to come up with something useful for you...I wonder how the story would read if your first line was something about "Koun's fate dreams hadn't warned her about this." It's a great hook, and might be awesome earlier.

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  8. Just a note of comment, I read somewhere recently that one of the most common fantasy openings was harvesting herbs or roots - so you might want her doing something different when she spots the riders. Also "shot like arrows through her heart" is a bit cliche - I love cliche myself, but others will probably call you out on it. The writing is very tight and fluid and I'm intrigued by the promise of magic in her dreams. Great job.

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  9. P.S. I've left a reply to your comment on Bird's-eye View, http://michellefayard.blogspot.com/2011/07/blogfest-first-200-words-contest.html.

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  10. Great start, with a nice action scene and immediate tension! Good luck in the contest!

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  11. I got a little lost in all the character names, but other than that I loved it. Well done.

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  12. I still think you need an identifier for Koun, even if it's just "Her hound Koun. . ." All sorts of things can howl, and it's not obvious that Koun is the "hound darting ahead". Especially with the first sentence, we don't know Koun's gender, so when we get to the second one, "She squinted . . ." We don't know if it's Koun or Lia squinting.

    And I just read through the comments again, and at least one poster (Laura) thought Koun was the MC/the "she".

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  13. I need a clarification for Koun as well. Someone mentioned harvesting roots was a common opening for fantasy? Really? Don't know why that would be, lol. Anyways, I loved the whole thing:)

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  14. You are wonderful. You're hard work continues to show in each revision.

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  15. Thanks guys for all your comments!! The first part is now: "Her hound's howl alerted Lia..." and "Lia squinted"
    There's both common and unique fantasy elements throughout, but herbs are extremely important, so starting with them is key ;-))

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  16. I LOVE it. The changes do help clarify who's who. The dream stuff has me wondering.

    Good luck!
    kathy

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  17. You have made some great changes and it is really coming a long.

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  18. Okay, one last pesky question from the Devil's Advocate--would a dog's first reaction be to bark or to howl when hoofbeats are fast approaching? Unless you're trying to set up that Koun _knows_ something about Da's injuries ahead of time, it seems like he'd bark.

    Also, try reading "Her hound's howl" out loud and I bet you stumble. But otherwise, I like the tweaks, and I love the herb garden!

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