Sunday, May 27, 2012

May Test Run #5

TITLE: Threads
GENRE: YA Fantasy

The soldiers boarded up the doors of Flynn’s house and set it on fire
in the night.

Climbing through the cracks of the splintered door, Flynn grabbed his
two-year-old sister Mena from his mother’s battered hands and ran
through the flames, knowing the cracks were too small for his parents
to escape. He flew down the blazing streets of the snowy mountain town
and struggled to stay upright amongst the bloody slush beneath his
feet. A monstrous army, dressed in bronze and green, trampled through
the streets between the houses and snatched up the people running from
their burning homes while those still trapped in their houses screamed
and thrashed against the walls.

Flynn gagged on the smoke, held Mena closer to his chest, and skidded
onto the last street of the town, ducking under an arrow and slipping
on the ice. Another arrow flew by his face as Mena sobbed into his
shoulder. Her hands clutched his neck and hair, and the last image of
his mother’s bloody hands stuck in his mind. Flynn swallowed back a

Laughter rang out behind him. He turned and saw his elderly neighbors,
dead and splayed out in the dull red snow filling their basement
doorway. The laughing soldiers kicked the bodies back into the
smoke-filled basement. Flynn blinked and turned away. Skidding across
the ice, he twisted his body and darted between two shouting soldiers
standing between him and the safety of the woods. Mena screamed.


  1. talk about putting us right into the thick of it! wow! the only thing i could say about this one is that i got a little confused about some logistics in the very beginning - and maybe it was just me - about the main character's escape. is he going through a back door as the soldiers are boarding up the front of the house? surely he is not escaping through a hole in the same door they are boarding up.

    also, do the soldiers not see flynn running away when he can see them?

    i know it might be difficult in such a limited amount of words, but could you tell us what he's planning on doing next or what he's thinking of doing next? even if it's flynn has no idea where he's running to only that he has to get his little sister away from x danger? sort of setting up the story, if you will.

    other than that, i have no other comments. nicely done.

  2. This is one I would definitely read, but there are a few fixes that could be made. I noticed a lot of telling, especially in the first paragraph. What was he thinking about his mother and father burning? How did he feel about all of it? Will seeing his slain neighbors traumatize him? These are just a few things to think about. As it is it reads as a case file more than a story, but I see great potential for it!

  3. I think you're moving too fast. This sounds like a really interesting, conflict-ridden start, but you're pushing through too much action without enough 'senses' detail to really ground the reader in what's going on.

    A good example is the bloody hand image. I think your first paragraph should probably be your first page - pull out the feelings - sight, sound, emotion, smells - and really put the reader in Flynn's shoes. Then you can make the rest of the action pass a little more quickly when we're solidly behind Flynn's eyes.

    I hope this helps - and good luck with the book. It's certainly an exciting opening!

  4. It's definitely an action-y start to a fantasy novel, but there needs to be more showing and less telling (I know...that most common and most vague writing advice there is, right?). In other words, don't start by telling us that his house was burning down. Maybe he comes out of a deep sleep when he hears a commotion downstairs and heads down to find torches have been thrown through his windows and the flames cracking up the walls. Make us hear, feel, smell, and taste what the character does.

    Also, saying that Flynn heard laughter behind him and then mentioning the "laughing soldiers" is a bit redundant. All in all, this is a pretty good action intro into a fantasy world. It just needs a few tweaks to get it ship shape.