Sunday, May 29, 2011

Made of Awesome Contest

OK, here is the inaugural post of my writing blog. I created this page a while ago, but never got around to launching it. Now I have an excuse. I'm entering the "Made of Awesome Contest," on the IS IT HOT IN HERE, OR IS IT THIS BOOK blog by Shelly Watters. The idea is to post the first page of my novel so that it can be critiqued by the other entrants. Agent Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson and Associates will select the winner, who will receive a ten page critique.

Looking forward to hearing what you think of my page. (Sometimes I think it's the most rewritten page in the history of books.) Thanks in advance!

And so, here it is:

Title: Darkling
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 68,000


The heavy stoneware crock slipped from Taela’s grasp, and smashed to the dirt floor. She jumped back as shards of pottery and summerbeans scattered at her feet. She bent to clean the mess and heard footsteps approach from the other side of the weathered door. Cursing herself for her carelessness, she ducked behind a barrel.

Blood rushed in Taela’s ears. Ribbons of moonlight shone through the slats of the storage shed illuminating the casks, barrels and crates stacked around her. The sour smell of vinegar soaking the dirt overpowered the scents of aging wood and hay.

The wooden handle turned and the door inched open. Taela hunched in the shadows, holding her breath. A young woman wearing a white nightdress entered, flickering candlelight illuminating her face. Selita. Long brown hair hung loose around her shoulders and she carried a wooden spoon as if it were a club. Misshapen shadows cast by the candlelight danced on the opposite wall.

Taela shifted to ease a cramp and her boot scuffed the hard-packed dirt. Selita turned toward the sound. “Who’s there? Show yourself or I’ll let in the dogs.” She was bluffing. The dogs weren’t anywhere near or their yapping would have given Taela away. Selita took another step toward her hiding place.

Taela cursed under her breath. Conceding defeat, she stood. “Selita, it’s me.”

Selita shrieked, then laughed as she recognized her. “Taela, you nearly startled me to death! I thought you were a Terrinian raider.”


  1. I really liked it! I love how you built up the tension in the story and effectively solved it. Since the beginning is about Taela and Selita I would like a line about their relationship. But the writing is really good. Best of luck.

  2. Very enjoyable first page. I like the description, and the mood created from the third paragraph is gripping. Starting out with that type of tension on page one sets my expectations that there's more suspense coming. I'd keep reading. Nice job.

  3. I am a little confused with the walking in with a candle throwing shadows yet the first MC seems to be able to see fine...
    Other then that though everything looks good. Good luck with the contest!

  4. I felt so much tension in this, but I couldn't figure out why the MC felt the need to hide in the first place when it was resolved so readily in the last line. I take it they are friends, or at least know each other pretty well.
    But like I said, I really felt the tension, so well done!

  5. Why is she hiding? Just because she broke something and is afraid of being reamed? I like that you've set up an enemy already--Terrinian raiders. Hope they come into the mix soon. (Especially with this build of tension.)

    Great opening!

  6. I too liked your tension build up. I was kind of let down when that build up seemed unnecessary because it was her friend she was hiding from.
    Maybe she is a Terrinian raider and that is why she was hiding? But then that makes me not like the MC because she is stealing from her friend. These assumptions could be completely off base, but that is what I gathered from the first page.

    I am not sure if my comments help, but good luck.

  7. I think you've got a great opener here. It's definitely full of tension. A couple of things that stood out to me...I wanted to know more about Taela's immediate emotional response and thoughts when she dropped the crock and why she felt she needed to hide. Since we're seeing so much from her perspective, those feel like things that would come out in the first paragraph.

    Beautiful description and scene setting. Great job ^_^

  8. I like that this starts out with action right away. There's a good bit of tension, which kept me reading and liking it. However, at the end, it tapered off when the Selita laughed. It felt a bit like a false opening, like you deliberately misled the reader to think the mc would get in big trouble. (But maybe she IS in big trouble despite Selita's laugh.)

    I think you could use more sentence variation in para 1; a bit less description in para 2; I thought para 3 was great; I think para 4 needs to be divided at "Selita turned..." so the mc's move isn't with Selita's actions and dialog.

    Good luck!

  9. Thanks so much for all your awesome comments and suggestions. It's so great to belong to a community of writers who support and help you.

  10. Great sensory descriptions, especially in teh second paragraph! In the first, I thought that the repitition of the "she did this" sentence structure was a little distracting--you could vary it up as you did in later paragraphs.

    I too, was confused as to why the MC was hiding? It built some great tension, but I felt faked out when I found out she was friends with the woman she was hiding from.