Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #8

Title: Great Uncle Gutenberg
Genre: Upper MG Historical Fiction

Twelve-year-old Elsa Humbrecht must decide what her great-uncle Johann
Gutenberg's priceless invention of moveable type is worth to her when
a moneylender threatens to shut down Gutenberg's printing workshop.

Chapter 1 – August 26, 1452

I looked backwards for a long time as we drove out of Frankfurt. First
my father and little sister vanished as the cart rounded a corner. My
younger brothers ran behind the cart for a while until they were too
tired to follow. We drove through the bumpy, winding city streets
until we reached the city walls. I watched as Frankfurt became a gray
mist of spires that finally faded into clouds. When there was nothing
left to see behind us, I turned around to face the road ahead.

The sun climbed higher in the sky. It struggled to shine through the
clouds that had been hanging over the countryside for nearly a week.
The longer we were on the road, the stronger the light became, until
it broke through the seams of the clouds and made sweeping shadows
cross our path.

“I knew we’d have good traveling weather,” Lorenz said from his seat
next to me in the cart. “There’s nothing worse than trying to drive
these carts in a rainstorm.”

At that moment, I wished for rain because it would have hidden the
tears that I was trying my best to hold back. It would do no good to
cry and Lorenz would think I was an infant, not a grown girl of
twelve. I needed to be strong to make my family proud.


  1. I think there is some solid writing here. Very clean and descriptive. The setting with the clouds and mist works well in the scene. I would like to see just a little more emotion in the form of a reaction from the narrator as her brothers and father stop following. Nothing too over the top...but just a hint so we can relate to the emotion (and the narrator) right away.

    For me, the weak link here is the logline. It seems obvious that Elsa has to make a sacrifice or jump through hoops to make sure her father's invention survives... beyond just "what the invention is worth to her." There must be a more clear and powerful way to convey what is at stake.

    Good luck with this.

  2. I enjoyed this. Your writing is strong and you do a good job of describing the scene. I am curious as to why this girl is leaving her family. Is she a child bride? I like the line about Frankfurt becoming a mist of spires. The paragraph about the clouds could be tightened a little. Good job and good luck!

  3. Historical fiction attracts my attention and your story intrigues me. I think it should begin with more description, at least one sentence, of the narrator's emotional state as she's driven away from her family. Is she thrilled, anxious, terrified? I loved the way her father and little sister give up first, then her brothers, and finally even the city itself fades into the mist. There is a sense of permanence to this journey but I don't know why she's in a cart with Lorenz. Has she been given to bondage or is she a bride? How does she feel about this man sitting beside her? Frightened by his size, disgusted by his age or smell? Read the opening paragraphs of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and you'll see how much information is given about Kit, the people she's traveling with, and the strange place she's going to. You are a good writer and I hope your book gets published.

  4. I love this. Perhaps she would not show the same kind of emotions as we would imagine someone would show in our own time. She's being very brave and doing what she thinks is expected of her. Maybe that's the point. I'm curious about her and I love historical fiction. You write very well. Good luck!

  5. This one really drew me in. Your opening is evocative and begins slowly, which is appropriate when setting up this historical period. Your writing feels as though it's of another time, which is a compliment. (It brought back an experience I had when I was 11, driving away with my aunt and uncle while my parents and sister got smaller and smaller…sob!) I wonder if a novel such as Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel would get published today, as it takes a very long time to set mood, location, personalities, etc. But that's what I like about your novel, and I'd gladly read on. Best wishes with this!