Saturday, October 29, 2011

CT First Page #4

TITLE: The Rowaness of Shalott
GENTRE: YA Fantasy

Never had I felt the sensation of touch. Not the wind in my hair or stones under my feet. If only I could awaken my skin, startle my half-alive body into awareness, release my spirit from the rowan trees.

Forget I was a nameless Rowaness.

Curling my finger, I beckoned an ocean breeze and twined it around a single blossom, high in the canopy of my favorite rowan tree. The flower floated down, petals like fluttering wings, its life force fading.

With a prayer to Eve, I opened my hand.

The blossom landed in my palm like a silent kiss.


Casting the flower aside, I strode out to the cliff and closed my eyes, listening to the waves crash onto the pebbled shore below. The spray from the ocean whispered through the veil strung over the back of my hair. Then everything hushed until the rowan trees rustled, echoing the sound of a commanding female voice. Her whisperings built into an urgent crescendo, spreading across the island for all the Rowaness to hear. “Veil your faces,” Nimue warned. “The king’s ship is near!”

I ducked to the ground, then after a moment’s hesitation, crept to the cliff’s edge. In the distance, a large vessel rocked upon the water as silhouetted figures drew in its great sail, bearing the crest of the blue dragon. I blinked in disbelief. The king and Merlin hadn’t set foot in Shalott for five years. No men had.

I didn’t veil my face.


  1. This is well written. I do have to wonder how she knows about touch. Are there other Rowanesses that can feel? Why is she nameless and Nimue not?
    Good luck!

  2. Hooked. Very clean writing--I couldn't find much to nitpick over. Only thing I noticed was the repeated use of rowan/Rowaness. Might want to just call them trees after the first instance.

  3. Your writing flows beautifully. I definitely would read more, and I don't usually read fantasy. I also wondered about touch - how does she know what a kiss is? I'm curious why she didn't veil her face. Why were they instructed to veil their faces? I'm intrigued. Good luck!

  4. Wow. The combination of your writing and worldbuilding blew me away. I'm asking all the right kinds of questions that make me want to read more. If this was on a shelf I would definitely pick it up. Great job and good luck!

  5. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. To keep my words to 250 I had to cut the paragraph that explains how she knows the sensation of touch is real, even though she's never felt it herself. (I plan on reinserting that bit into my official draft.) I wanted to get to a place in the story (for the purposes of the 250) where something pivotal is happening. I could put back in the explanation of touch, but I'd have to lose the part where she chooses not to veil her face. Let me know what you think, you brilliant writers out there.

    Also, the reason Nimue has a name, why the Rowaness veil their faces, and all your other questions are answered within the first 3-5 pages. It's difficult to setup the premise for a fantasy and answer everything on the first page, as I'm sure you know. Hopefully the questions readers have will be more intriguing and less frustrating and will keep them turning pages!

    Good luck to everyone with the Baker's Dozen contest!

  6. I think this is a great entrance into your world even if you had to cut some of the explanations. It sets if up without being too confusing. You do use rowan quite a bit, but I don't know if that can be helped. I'm interested to see your take on Merlin.


  7. Beautifully written. I had to cut parts of mine to fit within 250 words too. The wrong parts. But I've ever seen an agent request or read so few words. In an email they don't even see the bottom of a page. But at a conference you might be limited to that.

    In such a case I think you should cut most of the first part of the 7th paragraph in favor of putting the missing explanations back. Nothing important happens until the warning and we would understand she has a veil from that. If necessary she could choose not to veil her face right after the warning. Even without the 8th paragraph that's great incentive to read on.

    If the word count is close, you could cut a few words here and there to shorten. "I ducked low and crept to the cliff's edge." etc.