Lesson 4 Magic Mist
Kendra M. Frost
Fantasy/Urban Fantasy (not Paranormal Romance)
I stacked the boxes of crafting supplies between the closet and the bedroom door and stretched out. The craft fair setup started tomorrow night, so there was no use unpacking them. My muscles ached from arms to feet. These were the last of the boxes, though.
“Into boxes and out of boxes and into boxes again,” I said to the pile of stuffies on my bed. “My whole life is boxes, Biern.”
I’m guessing, based on the age of the MC, that this is MG or YA? Your MC has a strong voice, very much like the depth of personality in the character, but she’s not (to this point) structured for an adult readership. Which is fine. I’m just going to get to repeat my Know Thy Genre mantra again. 😉
It took me a moment to know that “stuffies” were stuffed toy animals. (Again, YA or MG might likely get that right away.) I like that she talks to her stuffies. Makes me feel not so crazy, as I did that most of my childhood.
I don’t SEE the stuffies, though, as quickly as I said, and with the odd names, and with it being Fantasy, and with them being a bit of a key focal point, I need to in ordere to identify the elements properly in an opening. You don’t want readers to have to go back and re-read. So, something like…
…I said to the pile of stuffies on my bed. They were in decent order for once, smallest to largest, from Locks the Lynx to Ricky the Raccoon. Biern, my snow leopard, was my confidante at the moment…
Or whatever. But not know if they’re sentient or toys or imaginary dilutes the impact of the ferret showing up “real.” Let the reader know they’re toys from the start. Then when one talks and it turns out to be a real ferret, it has more impact.
I hadn’t set up my alarm clock yet, but it had to be past midnight. Aunt Linda was supposed to drop me off at Rowan’s house at nine so I could go with them. Our annual summer trip this year was [to] a big cat sanctuary Mr. Ridley had read about. Not much time to sleep, since we’d have to do the trip before the craft fair set up just before dark. I turned to the closet to pick out some clothes and a voice came from somewhere near my bed.
“It could be worse.”
Is Mr Ridley Rowan’s father, uncle, caretaker, a neighbor, or Aunt Linda’s boyfriend? We don’t know and need to. We only know he decided where they were going on a summer trip.
For greater impact, I’d rewrite the last sentence like this:
I turned to the closet to pick out some clothes. A voice came from somewhere near my bed.
“It could be worse.”
Craft note: When you use ‘and’ in a long sentence, it weakens the action. It’s part of pacing. Long sentences slow things down. Short sentences speed things up. This is true with dialogue too, BTW.
I froze. The voice was gentle, //like// it was having a conversation with a friend. I slowly moved the hangars //like// I was looking, but I was listening as it continued.
I froze. The voice behind me was gentle, as if it was talking to a friend. Ignore it, my mind told me. Good advice. I slowly moved some hangars. Just looking for a shirt, right? But I was listening, because it was still talking.
It kept going, commenting on my stuffy collection. They were all cats except for Ricky, my raccoon hand puppet. That’s how I spotted it when I turned around with a random shirt.
Better: The voice commented on my stuffy collection. All cats, except for Ricky, the racoon hand puppet. I couldn’t stop myself. I had to turn around, random shirt clutched in my hand.
–Can you see the slight difference, Frost? I’m working on tightening, not just your words, but the character’s focus, which is the reader’s focus. Let’s raise the tension in the opening by doing this, because fantasy readers love the tension of the unknown.
I love the way the ferret touches the stuffies and the way the MC isn’t quite as afraid of this whole episode as the readers clearly will be. There’s a… gentle weirdness… about this whole opening that I just love. I want you to keep that. It’s your voice in this story.
Go through the rest of your opening and tighten for impact. Especially the fab end:
I lowered the bar on the other side of the window to keep it shut and only then did I notice the sky.
There wasn’t one.
Better: I shoved the bar down on the other side of the window to lock it shut. Only then did I notice the sky.
There wasn’t one.
Wonderfully weirdly interesting and really good voice.
//Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance//