Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are You Hooked? Entry #3

TITLE: The Slavemaster
GENRE: Epic YA Fantasy

Mahran dropped the dagger from the throat of his invisible opponent, hiding it behind his back as the scuff of footsteps entered.

Kessa rolled her eyes.  "You are such a child."

‘You are such a child.’ So what does that make you, little girl?”

She grabbed the sack of clothespins off the wall and left the shed, muttering under her breath.

Mahran returned to his battle—the enemy he’d killed had allies, and they wanted revenge. He slashed through the humid air, dodging their nonexistent attacks, and his short blade connected with the center post, metal biting deep into its wooden victim. Tugging the dagger out, he examined the edge for injury.

“Rajmahran, son of Rajmah, you get here now!” Ma called.

He sighed and sheathed the blade, trudging outside. The sun pounded his head immediately after leaving the shelter of the storeroom, and he squinted to see his ma hanging a pair of trousers on the clothesline.


“You were being—” Kessa began.

“Kessati, quiet. Both of you, be good to each other. What does the Great God want us to be?”

“Good,” Mahran muttered, Kessa echoing him.

“Yes, good. Now go—visit your friend down in the village. I have a box of needles for you to play with if you run out of dangerous things to do.” She paused. “Go on—go.”

Mahran groaned and started walking. “Come on, Kessati. Do you have money?”

“Yes. You could pay for once.”

“Aph is my friend. That would be…weird.”

Kessa said something he didn't hear and followed.


  1. Okay... I'm not really hooked. The names threw me off a bit. Also, I'm also not really digging that first line. I feel like it's... rambly, maybe? Could be tightened? It's a lot of words to start a book with. *shrug*

    Normally I love high fantasy and epic fantasy, but I've been reading a lot of quickly paced things lately, and that might be why this doesn't grab me by the throat. I feel like I've read something like it before. There would need to be something unique and intriguing within the next few pages to make me say: "Oh, this book is different. I want to read on!" if that makes sense.

    Good luck with this!

  2. Technically I think it's quite sound, but the phrasing left me a little confused at points. With the first line, I basically understood what happened, but the jump from Mahran hearing Kessa's footsteps to Kessa actually being in the room and rolling her eyes at Mahran threw me. At first, I thought that Kessa was already in the room with Mahran and rolled her eyes at the way he hid the blade, not the fact that he was fighting his invisible opponents in the first place. It's not a big thing, though, and easily fixable with an extra line or so.

    With the dialogue, I'd like to get a clearer picture of what they're doing as they speak--personal preference, though, and that may not be the case with everyone. With Ma, for instance, I'm not quite sure how to perceive her--is she tired and worn out, and hence grumpy, or is she very strict and authoritarian? I can see her dialogue working either way, and as it is I'm not quite sure which is correct.

    When Ma says to "visit your friend in the village", it feels a little tell-y to me. It seems more likely that she would say, "Go visit Aph", and then you could show them going to the village. Again, though, it's personal preference.

    Also, with the last line--if Mahran didn't hear Kessa, how do we know she said something? Was it that he couldn't hear *what* she said, or did he really not hear her at all? If the latter, then I'm not sure how we know that she spoke at all.

    In spite of how those paragraphs may look, I'm actually very interested in the story and I'd like to know why they're going to pay this friend. Good luck and happy writing!

  3. I like it. I think this chunk here:

    “Yes, good. Now go—visit your friend down in the village. I have a box of needles for you to play with if you run out of dangerous things to do.” She paused. “Go on—go.”

    sounds odd. I agree with Rachel on the "visit your friend down in the village" bit. The only reason I can think she would say it like that is because maybe she doesn't like their friend? But if that's the case, I find it unlikely she would tell them to visit him/her. Also, I really don't get why she has a box of needles for them to play with. O_o That confuses me every time.

    But other than that, I would read on. OF COURSE. :P

  4. I think this is really good! I can't find too much wrong with it, just the reference to "the Great God": to me, it seems like a reference to our God from Christianity, but I'm guessing your world would have a different religion. I think their god should have a name.

    Apart from that, this is great and I'd definitely read on!

  5. "as the scuff of footsteps entered" -- The 'scuff' is entering? I think this needs to be rephrased. Also, it's not immediately clear whether Kessa was the one entering, or if she was already in the room.

    "“‘You are such a child.’" This made me hesitate a second as I figured out why the line repeated... I think you could still do it, but make it a bit more clear? Ex. "He imitated her, forcing his voice up an octave. "You are such a child..."" Etc.

    "their nonexistent attacks" Dodging imagined attacks?

    "The sun pounded his head immediately after leaving the shelter of the storeroom, and he squinted to see his ma hanging a pair of trousers on the clothesline." This part struck me as a little wordy. Are there smoother ways to say this? We already know he's left the storeroom before the sun 'pounds' his head, so... Something like, "He squinted at his ma as she hung a pair of trousers on the clothesline, sun pounding down on his head." *shrug* Up to you, but I think there are a lot of ways to make that part smoother.

    Does Kessa have teleportation powers or something? Because her dialogue always kind of pops up in a scene when I've got no idea she's even present. XD

    " have a box of needles for you to play with if you run out of dangerous things to do.” XD I love this line.

    However, I got the impression that A) he was in trouble, and B) it was something urgent. Did she call him over just to force him to go to a friend's house? Or did she call him over to scold him, and then *suggest* he go to the friend's house... But right now that suggestion sounds like an order. And, what exactly are they paying for?

    Because right now, my plotting brain is saying, "'Friend' is actually some supplier of black-market goods, and his mom is actually telling him to go pick up something that nobody in their area is supposed to have." XD I highly doubt this suspicion is correct.

    What is their area like? I get a rural impression, but beyond that... Are they on rocky, arid mountains, or flat plainslands, or on the outskirts of a forest...? You've talked a bit about the buildings, which is a start, but I'd still like to be grounded more in the setting.

    Would I read on... At this point, I have to honestly say, I don't think so. It wasn't particularly BAD, but I don't feel much of a connection to the characters or world yet. I have no idea if anything that's happened so far is significant to the plot (at this point I'd say 'no'?) and... *shrug* You teased a couple questions forward, I just haven't felt an extreme need to answer those questions yet. I wonder if their friend is a black-market dealer, but I'm not on the edge of my seat waiting to find out...

    I think the main problems I see at this point are...
    1. I haven't been grounded to the world yet, as I mentioned.
    2. A boy practicing/training/fighting. Sister annoys him. Mother scolds him. These are all scenes that we're already very familiar with -- common openings. And I haven't seen much to distinguish these yet.

    Is there a place with more action - more relevent to the full plot of the book - where you could start with more action?

    You have a good start here. Keep writing. ;)

  6. I got an immediate "fantasy" sense, which is good.

    My first thought is that your main character feels younger than YA. Fighting with invisible enemies isn't typical behavior for the 14-18 crowd. So I'm concerned that your voice reflect the genre.


    “‘You are such a child.’ So what does that make you, little girl?” Is he mocking her? If so, say so. Using italics inside the dialogue is confusing. I had to read this sentence twice.

    You've done a careful job crafting the mother's relationship with her children. Overall, though, there isn't a whole lot of tension here. They're playing, they mock each other, their mom tells them to be good. This isn't enough to make me want to keep reading.

    Bear in mind that I'm not talking about action; I'm talking about conflict/tension. The small spat between brother and sister isn't enough to propel us to page 2.


    “Yes, good. Now go—visit your friend down in the village.

    She would certainly call him by his name, and not "your friend."

    Overall, this writing isn't bad. It needs a little cleaning-up, and the scene needs some underlying tension to keep us reading.

    Good work!