Author Topic: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy  (Read 90 times)

Offline Sir Nessun Dorma

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A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« on: February 14, 2020, 07:23:54 AM »
Hello all,
I posted my query letter for this story a few days ago, and received good reviews, for which I am gratified.  I thought I'd take the plunge and submit the first chapter for your consideration.  Here goes:

CHAPTER 1 ― YOU WOKE ME UP FOR THIS?

     Cracking with purpose Kara stormed down the upstairs hall, raising a horrific racket and rousting her cousins out of bed.

    “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bacon!” she trilled in Sarah’s ear, having similarly awoken Sean and Jordan. “Let’s go, warm feet on cold floor!”

     “Wuz all that necessary?” groused Sara. Raising her head off of her pillow, she glared at her cousin with bleary eyes.  “What gives?”

     “No time to explain. Just hurry!” she barked, herding them down the stairs, then left away from the kitchen (don’t even think about breakfast), through the living room and entrance hall, out the door, down the porch steps, and onto the prairie―

     ―where they came to a screeching halt. The cause of Kara’s curious behavior was now plain; the emtriches were in an uproar, squawking and squalling in a furious free-for-all. The giant birds, confined to their paddock, were crowded together as far from their shelter as they could manage, huddled in a swarm as if for mutual defense from an unseen menace.

     Sean stared in astonishment. “I’ve never seen ‘em act like that before. What d’ya reckon’s gotten into them?”

     His sister shrugged, equally as puzzled. “Beats me. Kara?”

     “No clue. But that’s not the only thing weird,” she said, gesturing with her chin towards the bird shelter. “What do you suppose is going on in there?” She took the lead, their boots making crunchy sounds on the parched grass stalks as the four of them made their way to the weathered building’s entrance.

     If the emtrichs’ behavior was odd, then the shelter’s was odder. It was the silence. Not a common, everyday sort of quiet, but an uncanny one, as if all earthly noises were being sucked into a giant vacuum cleaner. Ordinarily alive with the cheerful warbling of barn swallows; the industrious droning of insects; and the comings and goings of the livestock, this was a foreboding silence—the countdown before the launch, the pause before the detonation, the deep breath before the dive.

     Kara and her cousins peered through the entrance, trying to pierce the shadows.  The ominous stillness convinced them that something extraordinary was waiting for them within. They hovered on the threshold, daring each other to go first, when a scritching sound and muffled peep shushed them.

     “Um, that came from Suzie’s stall,” squeaked Jordan, his voice tight with unease. “Er, Sean, why don’t you go first?” he urged, chivvying his older brother forward.

     “Don’t push,” he hissed, but nevertheless stepped, quite courageously Kara thought, into the silent gloom.

     Elbows and shoulders touching, each lending the other courage, the four made their way to Susie’s stall. Sarah was the first to peek over the half door.

     “Holy smoke, that’s a…” she gasped, her voice petering out before she could finish her thought.

    “Well, powder me in sugar and call me a donut,” said Sean, voice dripping awe.
 
     Shocked disbelief flashed across Jordan’s face at the sight before him. Seeing this, Sean quickly placed comforting hands on his shoulders. “Don’t go kinetic on us, Jordan,” he urged his younger brother before he could bolt. “We need you here.”

     The boy immediately whirled around, breaking his brother’s grip. Smoke was pouring from his ears as he blared, “Run away? What in the world made you think I’d run away? D’ya think
I’m a gutless petunia?” Gathering steam, he took a deep breath. “And that’s not all…”
 
     Deaf to her cousin’s growing tirade Kara staggered back a step, her stomach writhing with wonderment. This only happens in storybooks. Staring up at them, looking lost and abandoned, was a creature straight out of a fantasy. Her thoughts were as tangled as a tumbleweed as she recalled how humdrum and mundane her life had been only two weeks ago, and how interesting it would be from this moment on. For, unless her eyes were cheating her, she was gazing down at something that had no right to be alive.
   

Thank your for your critiques.







Offline MichelleG

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2020, 10:31:58 AM »
 Nice chapter. I enjoyed the relationship between the kids. You could see them all getting together to spend the summer on the farm, part of their routine.

Only 3 comments

1. Is there a reason you mention ‘two weeks’? I kind of wanted a bit more - before sent to the boonies - when I was sent here to basically babysit my cousins for the summer - since I was sitting on my bed at home hoping for anything to happen - something.  It’s not a big deal,  it just seems to me her life has gotten exciting since the humdrum of yesterday. I would either explain the time frame or leave it out.

2.  So if I am reading this right, she has already discovered the weird crap with the emtriches before she went and got the cousins, correct? And then she says “... But that’s not the only weird thing.”  Which in my mind means she notice other weirdness when she she first noticed the emtriches - didn’t she check it out then? What is she, a gutless petunia? (I liked that). Since she obviously didn’t go check it out before, why not have all the children notice the quiet together?

3. This distracted my reading, and enjoyment, of your chapter - the saying is ‘Wakey, wakey, shakey, bakey’. -  not bacon (granted you could know that and auto correct screwed with you - damn auto correct)

It’s nice to find a YA not written in narcissists - First Person POV.

Good work!

« Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 10:46:20 AM by MichelleG »
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline ryan1

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2020, 11:27:24 AM »
Agree about the wakey/bakey thing.  The incorrect use of the phrase distracted me.

But I have one very big complaint: Your avoidance of the word "said".  You use just about every other word you can to set off the dialogue...but actually, this is a distraction, and generally frowned upon.  "said" is invisible.  But "hissed" and "trilled" and "groused" and barked" and "squeaked" becomes too much of the author trying too hard.  Let the dialogue speak for itself.   Save the alternatives for a very rare moment when it really adds something.   But if you really apply the terms you used, they don't really make sense.  I have trouble imagining how you "trill"  the wakey, wakey phrase.  I suggest first replacing every instance of setting off dialogue to "said", and then choose, carefully, alternatives ONLY when it adds something that you don't capture already with the dialogue itself.

Furthermore, you sometimes use the word, and then explain what it sounds like.  Take this example:

Quote
“Holy smoke, that’s a…” she gasped, her voice petering out before she could finish her thought.

The ellipsis is enough to show her voice is trailing off, so no need to tell us her voice petered out.  It is redundant.  I think you can cut a lot of verbiage by cleaning this kind of thing up. (And, how, exactly, does one GASP the words, "Holy smoke"?)

Next, be careful about using useless misspellings to evoke tone.  It is the sign of a texter, not a writer.  Specifically, "Wuz all that necessary?"  How, exactly, does one pronounce "was" any differently than "wuz"?  You don't...which makes the misspelling a visual thing.  Since this is written in third person, it doesn't make sense.


I think you'll likely need to make a serious pass at editing through your novel if the rest of your chapters are similarly written.  Right now, this is seriously overwritten, I'm sorry to say.

Offline Sir Nessun Dorma

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2020, 01:10:58 PM »
MichelleG,

Thank you for your comments.  In the case of your first comment, why the two weeks, that was an excellent pick-up.  I am indeed establishing a time frame for this story.  You see, Kara will only be spending the summer, two-and-a half months, at her cousin's ranch, which is the time span of this story.  All of the events have to take place within this time frame.  I started off with the gestation time for a dinosaur to be the same as a chicken's--this gets us started.  The actual gestation time of a dinosaur is anybody's guess, so I can get away with this literary trick.  The rest of the story is precisely timed to be able to fit into the time frame before Kara has to return home to NJ.

your second point--the weirdness of the emtriche's behavior and the silence of the bird shelter is because her bedroom window opens in that direction, and she can perceive anything out of the ordinary before her cousin's can.  This point is covered later in the story.

Your third point, the phrase 'wakey, wakey, eggs and bacon' was borrowed from the program 'BONES', where David Boreanaz says it to wake up his wife, Dr. Brennan.  I thought it was more original and clever that the traditional way.

If you enjoyed this chapter, you'll enjoy all the other ones as well.  Thank you.

Ryan1

Your point is well taken.  It looks like I'm going to go back and re-edit it so that phrases other than 'said' are rare, and used appropriately.  Thank you

Offline MichelleG

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2020, 03:05:11 PM »
Okay I didn’t even notice the part were you wrote EGGS - just the bacon stood out. I remember that scene from Bones.

Yeah, not sure if it was the chapter or the query, but I knew she was only there for the summer.  Just struck me as weird that this event is so unusual it is a turning point for the story.  If you are going to mention two weeks maybe a little mention as I said.

The window - that makes sense, but (sorry for my 2 cents) if the emtriches were making such a racket how did she hear the silence from the bird shelter.  Again, not my story, but why not have the children realize how quiet the bird shelter is while they are by the emtriches?

"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline Sir Nessun Dorma

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2020, 04:45:20 PM »
MichelleG,

You're right, Kara could only hear the raucousness of the emtriches from her bedroom window, which warned her of the unusual morning.  It wasn't until they were actually outside that she observes the silence of the bird shelter.  I did it this way because Kara is the main protagonist, and though her cousins are just as bright and observant as she is, for the sake of the story I'm going to credit her with making most of the discoveries and make her the center of the surprises and events which come later.  Not to worry, though, the story will be in no way lopsided, and everyone will share alike in the adventures to come.  The first sentence of your first post was dead accurate, 'I enjoyed the relationship between the kids'.  Think 'The Goonies', that's how I intended this story to come out. 

Offline MichelleG

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2020, 05:12:29 PM »
The Goonies - most def - I can see it.

I hope there is a good story about where the egg cane from - wait - Don’t Tell Me!
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline Sir Nessun Dorma

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2020, 05:19:06 PM »
MichelleG,

Actually, you do know.  Have you ever heard of an emtrich before?

Offline MichelleG

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2020, 06:10:48 PM »
No. Is that a real thing?
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline Sir Nessun Dorma

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2020, 02:19:21 PM »
To everybody,

I can see Chapter 1 has raised a lot of questions and prompted a lot of observations.  I am now posting the synopsis and hope it answers some of your questions.  Please keep those critiques coming, what I have receives already has improved my manuscript and query letter.

Thanx

Offline rivergirl

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR YA low fantasy
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2020, 09:03:34 PM »
CHAPTER 1 ― YOU WOKE ME UP FOR THIS? Like the chapter heading

     Cracking with purpose (don't know what this means)Driven with a singular purpose maybe? Kara stormed down the upstairs hall, raising a horrific racket and rousting her cousins out of bed. I'm seeing her in the hall but a transition sentence is missing to put the reader in the bedroom. A few key words will allow your reader to see this scene.

    “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bacon!” she trilled in Sarah’s ear, having similarly awoken Sean and Jordan. “Let’s go, warm feet on cold floor!”

     “Wuz (since was and wuz is pronounced the exact same way, why incorrectly spell this?) all that necessary?” groused Sara. Raising her head off of her pillow, she glared at her cousin with bleary eyes.  “What gives?”

     “No time to explain. Just hurry!” she barked, herding them down the stairs, then left away from the kitchen (don’t even think about breakfast), Is the narrator speaking to the reader here? It pulls this reader out of the story. It would be more fun to have Kara say it)through the living room and entrance hall, out the door, down the porch steps, and onto the prairie―

     ―where they came to a screeching halt. The cause of Kara’s curious behavior was now plain; the emtriches were in an uproar, squawking and squalling in a furious free-for-all. The giant birds, confined to their paddock, were crowded together as far from their shelter as they could manage, huddled in a swarm as if for mutual defense from an unseen menace.

     Sean stared in astonishment. “I’ve never seen ‘em act like that before. What d’ya reckon’s gotten into them?”

     His sister shrugged, equally as puzzled. “Beats me. Kara?”

     “No clue. But that’s not the only thing weird,” she said, gesturing with her chin towards the bird shelter. “What do you suppose is going on in there?” She took the lead, their boots making crunchy sounds on the parched grass stalks as the four of them made their way to the weathered building’s entrance.

     If the emtrichs’ behavior was odd, then the shelter’s was odder. It was the silence. Not a common, everyday sort of quiet, but an uncanny one, as if all earthly noises were being sucked into a giant vacuum cleaner. Ordinarily alive with the cheerful warbling of barn swallows; the industrious droning of insects; (incorrect use of semicolon x 2 )Great descriptions in here, but this last sentence doesn't work for me. You clumped all the happy noises into a description of the silence. Truthfully i had to read it a couple of times. Consider:Ordinarily the barn was alive with all sorts of noises: the cheerful warbling of barn swallows, the industrious droning of insects, or the comings and goings of livestock. But this was nothing like any of those things...and the comings and goings of the livestock, this was a foreboding silence—the countdown before the launch, the pause before the detonation, the deep breath before the dive.

     Kara and her cousins peered through the entrance, trying to pierce the shadows.  The ominous stillness convinced them that something extraordinary was waiting for them within. They hovered on the threshold, daring each other to go first, when a scritching sound and muffled peep shushed them.

     “Um, that came from Suzie’s stall,” squeaked Jordan, his voice tight with unease( his voice tight or his voice uneasy. not both) . “Er, Sean, why don’t you go first?” he urged, chivvying his older brother forward.

     “Don’t push,” he hissed, but nevertheless stepped, quite courageously Kara thought, into the silent gloom.

     Elbows and shoulders touching, each lending the other courage, the four made their way to Susie’s stall. Sarah was the first to peek over the half door.

     “Holy smoke, that’s a…” she gasped, her voice petering out before she could finish her thought.

    “Well, powder me in sugar and call me a donut,” said Sean, voice dripping awe. I think another author pointed this out, but avoid the temptation to put too many (talking labels) spoke, urged, chided, gasped etc...Use them a little more sparingly in lieu of "said" which are invisible or not at all. For example: Sean leaned forward over the closed gate, unable to avert his gaze. "Well, powder me in sugar and call me a donut." The reader can automatically see that Sean is talking and feel the mood simply by what he's saying.
 
     Shocked disbelief flashed across Jordan’s face at the sight before him. Seeing this, Sean quickly placed comforting hands on his shoulders. “Don’t go kinetic on us, Jordan,” he urged his younger brother before he could bolt. “We need you here.”

     The boy immediately whirled around, breaking his brother’s grip. Smoke was might as well have been pouring from his ears as he blared, “Run away? What in the world made you think I’d run away? D’ya think
I’m a gutless petunia?” Gathering steam, he took a deep breath. “And that’s not all…”
 
     Deaf to her cousin’s growing tirade comma Kara staggered back a step, her stomach writhing with wonderment. This only happens in storybooks. Staring up at them, looking lost and abandoned, was a creature straight out of a fantasy. Her thoughts were as tangled as a tumbleweed as she recalled how humdrum and mundane her life had been only two weeks ago, and how interesting it would be from this moment on. For, unless her eyes were cheating her, she was gazing down at something that had no right to be alive.
   
charming interactions between the cousins and great descriptions in here. The story is also very engaging. This definitely reads like a Middle grade reader and not YW, I think that question came up somewhere? I'm in need of a critique of my first five if you feel so inclined! ;D