Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Magic 8 Ball Meme

Thank you very much to two lovely ladies, Jaybird and Kathleen Doyle,
for passing on this meme.

Here's the rules:
1. Post the button and link to (following would be nice, but not required).
2. Share an excerpt from your current WIP, perhaps something you're struggling with, are stuck on, or just can't "get right."
3. Ask a question about your excerpt. It can be something easy such as "What do you think?" or something more in-depth, such as "Can you suggest a better way to word such-and-such," or "How can I make the emotions in this scene more realistic?"
4. Tag 8 people. (I'm not tagging anyone in particular since I see this meme is going around. Please take it if you'd like some help with a story or query, and let me know so I can pop over to see your post.)

This is the beginning of a steampunk short story I'm writing for a YA anthology. I rarely write for anyone other than adults. I have two questions for you:
1) Does it sound too adult? I'm trying to give it a YA feel. I don't know how well I am succeeding with it.
2) This is the beginning I have now. Yet I wonder if I should start in the middle of a fight. I'm biased a bit because I love action, and when I don't have an explosive beginning, I think maybe I'm not hooking the reader. Would this beginning make you want to read more? Or would you rather start it with a fight with a mechanical scorpion?

Here's my excerpt:

Walking on sand was the worst. Mercy's ankle had no movement, and no matter how heavy her pants, the grains got into the gears. Every now and then, her knee joint uttered a dry huff similar to the ones coming from the animal behind her.

“I see it ahead.” Edwina called from atop her mount. The giant jack hopped forward with more enthusiasm, and Mercy leapt to one side to avoid it.

Mercy tapped the stud on her right nostril and breathed in the heat. Mixed in with the faint scent of hot sand was the rich fragrance of life. Water, vegetation, people. No mirage this time. Turning off her sense of smell – it wasn't smart to waste energy out there – she ran as fast as her leg would allow her.

The jack bounded ahead of her over then down the dune with Mercy close behind and skidded to a stop before plowing into the massive mound. Edwina fell off one side, only keeping to her feet because she still had a hold of the reins.

Running past them through the skinny trees and the front of the mound, Mercy went down to her knees beside the water and scooped up a handful. Fresh and cool, it eased the dryness in her throat, and she felt she could speak now and not sound like a grandmother tortoise. Good thing, too, because when she looked up, the welcoming committee had joined them.

With their long spears and forks, welcoming was too friendly of a word for them. It was more of a we-might-kill-you-if-you-make-another-move committee. Mercy's hands didn't listen and went immediately to the guns at her hips.


  1. Hi Christine- To answer question #1, I don't think this sounds too adult, at all.

    In response to question #2, I don't think it's necessary to always start with an action scene. I liked the first two sentances "Walking on sand was the worst." - I immediately related to that, b/c it's true! I hate walking in sand. But then sentance two hooks you with "Mercy's ankle had no movement, and no matter how heavy the pants, the grains got in the gears."- That's when the reader is clued into something else is going on here! I really liked your first paragraph, and think you should keep it!

  2. I don't think it's too adult. And no, doesn't have to start immediately with action.

  3. I agree with the others. :)
    I saw the call for submissions for this, too! That's awesome that you're writing something for it. I don't know enough about steampunk, but I'd love to learn! Maybe I'll have to buy the anthology when it comes out. Good luck!

  4. I think it starts out just fine. Too much action right away can turn some readers off. And, like the others said, it sounds like a good start to a YA story to me=)
    Steampunk is an awesome genre and one that I have never been able to get right. Good luck with your submission!

  5. i don't think it's too adult. and i like when a book starts with action. gets you hooked right away.

  6. Like the others said, this doesn't sound too adult. And I like this scene. It has hooked me from the first line. :)

  7. Thank you all! It makes me feel a lot better about the beginning. :)

  8. I don't think it sounds too adult. Most YA readers are fairly sophisticated anyway. At least, my nieces are. I like that you started with the gears and all. That's interesting. Maybe play that up a little more.

  9. I may be 41 but I'm still pretty immature, so I didn't think the opening was too adult-ish. :-) I also enjoyed how you described the "welcoming committee." Fun teaser!
    Some Dark Romantic

  10. Ohhh very promising... I like that stud idea on her nose allowing her to pick up scents. For voice, I'd say 17-early twenties is what comes across.

    Hmm I think the beginning works, as long as the mechanical scorpion (love this idea) comes in shortly afterwards. Though I'd play up the beginning you have with a bit more tension, so we know she feels anxious about finding others, and why.

    Can't wait to read it all.


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