Author Topic: YA Fantasy  (Read 100 times)

Offline bibliophile22

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YA Fantasy
« on: October 10, 2021, 01:38:36 PM »
Hi! I already posted my first chapter in the other topic, but seeing as it was so long, I didn't get much feedback. Decided to try again with just my first five pages. Please provide constructive criticism only, and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read! (Also, I know there are probably a few grammatical errors, but this is from my first draft, so I'm not too worried about those. I'll fix them in the editing phase.)



Mia pressed herself as close against the wall as possible, feeling as though she may sink into it. The darkness of the alley concealed her well, but she needed to be on the top floor of this building, meaning she would have to scale it and risk being seen. Ah, well. Where was the fun in playing it safe?

Smiling to herself, Mia took the steps two at a time up the fire escape. It stopped after the second floor, however, leaving Mia to climb the other four herself. She hoisted herself onto the railing of the fire escape; her balance was impeccable. A pipe ran along the side of the building a few feet up. Stretching, Mia loosed a slow breath and jumped. Her hands gripped the pipe tightly.

The rest of the climb would be a piece of cake. Mia moved down the pipe, hand-over-hand, until she reached the next set of windows.
These windows had ledges, making it easy for Mia to climb, and faster. The muscles in her arms contracted with each leap to the ledge above, and she could feel the cool night breeze as it blew against the sweat beading on her brow. She hadn’t done this in a while, having been too preoccupied with other so-called duties, and oh how she had missed it.

Mia hesitated at the window to the top floor. The curtains were closed so she couldn’t see a thing. Heaving a sigh, she pulled herself over the side of the building’s roof. She had been watching her target every night for months. Night was the only time she could escape, but it was enough.

The door to the stairwell was propped open and Mia entered it cautiously. She could not be seen, not just because of what she was about to do, but because of who she was. No one outside the Veil could ever see her face, or it would mean trouble for a lot of people.
Most of whom Mia cared nothing for, but the few she did care for was enough to make her stay hidden.

Mia slid along the wall in the darkness, taking the steps silently to the floor below. The hallway was lit, but only barely. This building was old not well maintained. The scent of mildew and dust alone was enough to tell Mia that much.

The scarf over her face was pulled up to just below her eyes and the hood she wore hung low, shielding her from anyone who may be lurking in the halls at this hour. Quickly and silently, Mia moved through the hall, but it didn’t take her long to reach. The numbers on the door were faded and one was missing altogether. Mia tried the doorknob, surprised when it easily turned. These people were really stupid, weren’t they?

Mia slipped inside the apartment, closing the door quietly after her. The room was dark, especially with the curtains drawn. She could only barely see the outline of the furniture; a television on the far side of the room in front of a couch. And on the couch, the man Mia was looking for. She pulled the thin piece of wire from inside her sleeve, but before she had a chance to take another step, an arm wrapped around her neck from behind. Without even thinking, Mia’s elbow dug into the attacker’s gut, eliciting a grunt from him. She grabbed him by the arm that was around her neck and used all her weight to flip him over her shoulders, throwing him to the ground.

“Dammit, Mia! Chill!” a familiar voice said from the floor. “It’s just me.”

“Echo, what the hell?” Mia responded, hoping the agitation was clear in her voice. “What are you doing here?”

Echo stood, dusting himself off and stretching. He was sure to feel that tomorrow. Good.

He reached around her to flip on a lamp; he was grinning. “I told you, you gotta be quicker,” he said.

Mia looked over at the man on the couch, who had yet to move, even with all the commotion Echo had caused. He was already dead.

“Dammit, Echo,” Mia cursed. “I’m sick of you stealing my kills.”

Echo had the gall to laugh as he flipped the lamp back off and headed for the window. Mia followed him, half-tempted to push him out the damned thing. Instead, she followed him out, closing the window after her and climbing back down to the dark alley below. The two of them walked in silence, taking back alleys for several blocks, and then the dirt path that would eventually lead them back to the Veil.

Now that they were free of the city, Mia took her hood off and lowered her scarf, shaking her black hair free of its tie. The wind combed through it, vowing to leave it in a tangled mess, but Mia didn’t mind. Having to hide herself from head to toe left her missing the fresh breeze and the feel of it on her face.

“Can’t believe you’re supposed to be the best,” Echo said, ready to get back to annoying Mia to no end. It was his specialty. “I beat you every time. Maybe you’re getting slow in your old age.”

Mia punched him in the arm, happy when she elicited a wince. “I’m only a year older than you, idiot,” she said. “You keep stealing my kills because you know my schedule and how I like to work. Not because you’re better than me.”

“Touchy, touchy. Is it menopause already?”

“Do you wanna die, Fren?” Mia asked, using Echo’s real last name; he rolled his eyes.

“Maybe the gods will save you some trouble and let the Empty take me,” he said, sticking his tongue out and playing dead as they still walked.

Mia scoffed. “I should be so lucky.”

The forest began to grow denser, the light of the moon only barely able to penetrate the canopy of trees above them. Echo grabbed Mia by the hand and she shook her head in the darkness. He always said it was to keep them both from tripping up, but she suspected he was a little afraid of the dark forest. That was one thing she never teased him about, though. After the way he’d grown up before coming to the Veil, there was probably a reason for his fears.

Slowly, the trees began to thin out until the forest opened to a large clearing. Echo quickly dropped Mia’s hand and she pretended nothing had even happened. The small village was silent at this hour, just before dawn, all the lights out. The clearing was surrounded by trees and high grass, but it wasn’t like anyone was going to come to the Veil, anyway. Master Keo had made sure of that with his far-fetched tales and rumors of cursed land and spirits.

They stopped outside the small building Mia and a few other girls shared. Here, in the moonlight, she could see Echo’s dumb face and how the wind had blown his dark hair from its tie, leaving it a mess. Mia pulled the tie the rest of the way loose and handed it to Echo.
“You look horrible,” she said. “Be sure to shower in the morning.”

“Thanks for walking me home, Echo,” he said sarcastically as Mia went inside and closed the door.

#

Morning came too soon, the sun rising and hurting Mia’s eyes as it landed through the windows. Mia and the other girls slept on the floor of their small building. It didn’t do much for Mia’s back, but she rarely got to sleep as it was. Between training and sneaking around all night, she hardly had the time. Eventually, the lack of sleep would take its toll on her, leaving her to sleep for an entire day, straight through morning drills, lunch, evening drills, and even dinner. Those days were fun, until she woke up the next morning to a punishment.
Usually, it was to clean the entire village, top to bottom, end to end, which wasn’t too bad. The village was barely big enough to be called a village anyway.

Other times, though, when Master Keo was in a particularly sour mood, he would punish Mia by making her spar with everyone, one at a time. The only setback there was that she would have her hands tied behind her back. On those days, Mia often needed assistance getting home, and her bruises took weeks to fully disappear. It was also on those days that Mia desperately wished to turn Master Keo in. The act would earn her no friends or favors, and she knew she would never do it anyway. Master Keo had saved her; she owed him her life.

“Better get up,” one of the girls, Annis, said, walking past where Mia still lay. “Keo wasn’t very happy with you last night.”

Mia’s brows knit together. “What?” she said, sitting up. “Why?”

Annis shrugged. “He doesn’t tell me anything. I heard him scolding Echo last night when I went to pee.”

Shaking her head, Mia got out of bed. She needed to shower and change, among other things, but she was tired and irritable, and frankly: in the mood to argue. Master Keo was always angry with her over one thing or another these days, and she was getting quite sick of it. As much as Mia loved the man and as much as she owed him, she could hardly stand his self-righteous attitude.

Mia spotted Master Keo in his usual place beneath the weeping willow as soon as she exited her building. The pit of her stomach twisted, partially in anger and partially in fear. Anger because Keo had no reason to be upset with her; fear because Mia’s bruises from her previous punishment had just cleared up. She wasn’t sure she could handle anymore so soon.

Offline susan-louise

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Re: YA Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2021, 03:36:05 AM »
I am happy to offer my constructive criticism, but bear in mind that a critique is inevitably impacted by the syntax/editorial issues you yourself mentioned.  You are editor and arbiter, but it was hard for me to read without losing the flow.  As a first draft, you will inevitably make many further refinements so the language becomes more concise, repeated names (eg "Mia" when "she or her" would be easier on the eyes), adverbs & dialogue tags are reduced etc.  I did underline superfluous tags that interrupted my reading. On the very positive side, I can imagine YA readers relating to the characters you have created.  So well done there!
Opening:   Did it draw me in?  Frankly, no.  But you did a  good job of setting up Mia's illicit climb.  I felt that I was with her!  I think you need to reach the scene where she finds Echo with her prey, already killed, more quickly. Because this is where the true action and stakes become apparent.   Otherwise, you risk losing my interest (as a reader, and worse, that of an agent).

*****

Mia pressed herself as close against the wall as possible, feeling as though she may sink into it. The darkness of the alley concealed her well, but she needed to be on the top floor of this building, meaning she would have to scale it and risk being seen. Ah, well. Where was the fun in playing it safe?  (so we have a sense that Mia is a risk-taker. Nice insight)

Smiling to herself, Mia took the steps two at a time up the fire escape. It stopped after the second floor, however, leaving Mia to climb the other four herself. She hoisted herself onto the railing of the fire escape; her balance was impeccable. A pipe ran along the side of the building a few feet up. Stretching, Mia loosed a slow breath and jumped. Her hands gripped the pipe tightly.

The rest of the climb would be a piece of cake. Mia moved down the pipe, hand-over-hand, until she reached the next set of windows.
These windows had ledges, making it easy for Mia to climb, and faster. The muscles in her arms contracted with each leap to the ledge above, and she could feel the cool night breeze as it blew against the sweat beading on her brow. She hadn’t done this in a while, having been too preoccupied with other so-called duties, and oh how she had missed it.  (This adds a drama...we want to know more.   Why has she not been climbing?  Forbidden?

Mia hesitated at the window to the top floor. The curtains were closed so she couldn’t see a thing. Heaving a sigh, she pulled herself over the side of the building’s roof. She had been watching her target every night for months. Night was the only time she could escape, but it was enough.

The door to the stairwell was propped open and Mia entered it cautiously. She could not be seen, not just because of what she was about to do, but because of who she was. No one outside the Veil could ever see her face, or it would mean trouble for a lot of people.
Most of whom Mia cared nothing for, but the few she did care for was enough to make her stay hidden.

Mia slid along the wall in the darkness, taking the steps silently to the floor below. The hallway was lit, but only barely. This building was old not well maintained. The scent of mildew and dust alone was enough to tell Mia that much.

The scarf over her face was pulled up to just below her eyes and the hood she wore hung low, shielding her from anyone who may be lurking in the halls at this hour. Quickly and silently, Mia moved through the hall, but it didn’t take her long to reach. The numbers on the door were faded and one was missing altogether. Mia tried the doorknob, surprised when it easily turned. These people were really stupid, weren’t they?

Mia slipped inside the apartment, closing the door quietly after her. The room was dark, especially with the curtains drawn. She could only barely see the outline of the furniture; a television on the far side of the room in front of a couch. And on the couch, the man Mia was looking for. She pulled the thin piece of wire from inside her sleeve, but before she had a chance to take another step, an arm wrapped around her neck from behind. Without even thinking, Mia’s elbow dug into the attacker’s gut, eliciting a grunt from him. She grabbed him by the arm that was around her neck and used all her weight to flip him over her shoulders, throwing him to the ground.

“Dammit, Mia! Chill!” a familiar voice said from the floor. “It’s just me.”

“Echo, what the hell?” Mia responded, hoping the agitation was clear in her voice. “What are you doing here?”

Echo stood, dusting himself off and stretching. He was sure to feel that tomorrow. Good.

He reached around her to flip on a lamp; he was grinning. “I told you, you gotta be quicker,” he said.

Mia looked over at the man on the couch, who had yet to move, even with all the commotion Echo had caused. He was already dead.

“Dammit, Echo,” Mia cursed. “I’m sick of you stealing my kills.”  (Ok so now we have a sense of plot emerging.  These young people are directed to kill residents of the city?  It's rather flung at us...and I nearly missed its significance...so perhaps develop this important part a little more??)

Echo had the gall to laugh as he flipped the lamp back off and headed for the window. Mia followed him, half-tempted to push him out the damned thing. Instead, she followed him out, closing the window after her and climbing back down to the dark alley below. The two of them walked in silence, taking back alleys for several blocks, and then the dirt path that would eventually lead them back to the Veil.  (is this where they live??  What is the Veil??)

Now that they were free of the city, Mia took her hood off and lowered her scarf, shaking her black hair free of its tie. The wind combed through it, vowing to leave it in a tangled mess, but Mia didn’t mind. Having to hide herself from head to toe left her missing the fresh breeze and the feel of it on her face.

“Can’t believe you’re supposed to be the best,” Echo said, ready to get back to annoying Mia to no end. It was his specialty. “I beat you every time. Maybe you’re getting slow in your old age.”

Mia punched him in the arm, happy when she elicited a wince. “I’m only a year older than you, idiot,” she said. “You keep stealing my kills because you know my schedule and how I like to work. Not because you’re better than me.”

“Touchy, touchy. Is it menopause already?”

“Do you wanna die, Fren?” Mia asked, (She) used Echo’s real last name; he rolled his eyes.

“Maybe the gods will save you some trouble and let the Empty take me,” he said, sticking his tongue out and playing dead as they still walked.  (what does playing dead mean here?)

Mia scoffed. “I should be so lucky.”

The forest began to grow denser, the light of the moon only barely able to penetrate the canopy of trees above them. Echo grabbed Mia by the hand and she shook her head in the darkness. He always said it was to keep them both from tripping up, but she suspected he was a little afraid of the dark forest. That was one thing she never teased him about, though. After the way he’d grown up before coming to the Veil, there was probably a reason for his fears. 

Slowly, the trees began to thin out until the forest opened to a large clearing. Echo quickly dropped Mia’s hand and she pretended nothing had even happened. The small village was silent at this hour, just before dawn, all the lights out. The clearing was surrounded by trees and high grass, but it wasn’t like anyone was going to come to the Veil, anyway. Master Keo had made sure of that with his far-fetched tales and rumors of cursed land and spirits.

They stopped outside the small building Mia and a few other girls shared. Here, in the moonlight, she could see Echo’s dumb face and how the wind had blown his dark hair from its tie, leaving it a mess. Mia pulled the tie the rest of the way loose and handed it to Echo.
“You look horrible,” she said. “Be sure to shower in the morning.”

“Thanks for walking me home, Echo,” he said sarcastically as Mia went inside and closed the door.

#

Morning came too soon, the sun rising and hurting Mia’s eyes as it landed through the windows. Mia and the other girls slept on the floor of their small building. It didn’t do much for Mia’s back, but she rarely got to sleep as it was. Between training and sneaking around all night, she hardly had the time. (So sneaking around at night is part of her training or life?  I think this revelation needs to come earlier for plot coherence...imo) Eventually, the lack of sleep would take its toll on her, leaving her to sleep for an entire day, straight through morning drills, lunch, evening drills, and even dinner. Those days were fun, until she woke up the next morning to a punishment.
Usually, it was to clean the entire village, top to bottom, end to end, which wasn’t too bad. The village was barely big enough to be called a village anyway.

Other times, though, when Master Keo was in a particularly sour mood, he would punish Mia by making her spar with everyone, one at a time. The only setback there was that she would have her hands tied behind her back. On those days, Mia often needed assistance getting home, and her bruises took weeks to fully disappear. It was also on those days that Mia desperately wished to turn Master Keo in. The act would earn her no friends or favors, and she knew she would never do it anyway. Master Keo had saved her; she owed him her life.

“Better get up,” one of the girls, Annis, said, walking past where Mia still lay. “Keo wasn’t very happy with you last night.”

Mia’s brows knit together. “What?” she said, sitting up. “Why?”

Annis shrugged. “He doesn’t tell me anything. I heard him scolding Echo last night when I went to pee.”

Shaking her head, Mia got out of bed. She needed to shower and change, among other things, but she was tired and irritable, and frankly: in the mood to argue. Master Keo was always angry with her over one thing or another these days, and she was getting quite sick of it. As much as Mia loved the man and as much as she owed him, she could hardly stand his self-righteous attitude.  (Who is Master Keo?  We might need a bit more information here.  THeir trainer?  Leader?  He is obviously an important character)

Mia spotted Master Keo in his usual place beneath the weeping willow as soon as she exited her building. The pit of her stomach twisted, partially in anger and partially in fear. Anger because Keo had no reason to be upset with her; fear because Mia’s bruises from her previous punishment had just cleared up. She wasn’t sure she could handle anymore so soon.   (so suddenly you bring in more emotional stakes.  She is frequently punished.  I think you need to build this up a bit as a reader I am now beginning to engage with her character....)
« Last Edit: October 17, 2021, 03:44:51 AM by susan-louise »