Author Topic: Young adult sci fi  (Read 2099 times)

Offline orchid15

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Young adult sci fi
« on: January 12, 2006, 02:20:55 PM »
I've read that the first five pages of a story either makes it or breaks it-- so here are the first five pages of a novel I am hoping to send to a publisher soon.  I'm not wanting brutal, but please be honest and tell me where I am weak.  I'd rather hear it here instead of making a fool of myself in front of an editor.  ;D
                *                   *                  *                      *

The elder spoke the words Andrea had been dreading as if they were a part of any other announcement.  But in Andrea’s mind, the words came crashing around her like boulders, building walls and trapping her inside.

“The founders have chosen the fall equinox to be Marriage Day.  Marriage classes will start for Group One on Firstday.”  The elder’s voice droned on.  He stood on a raised platform at a corner of the park as he made the rest of the week’s announcements.  Most of the villagers were eager to hear what was planned for the next week, but Andrea wasn’t listening any more.  She was part of Group One, so she needed to start thinking about choosing a marriage partner. 
She didn’t have much choice in the matter.  Group One only had five boys, and one was her cousin Joseph.  That left four to choose from.  She always felt insecure and unwanted around the other students.  Would any of the boys want to marry her?

 What about Kim Wu?  His mother taught primary school, and his father was the village carpenter.  He had dreamy almond-shaped eyes and hair so black it looked almost blue.  He looked like he knew deep secrets, and it was hard to tell what he was thinking.  He was easy to get along with, and he didn’t hate her.

Ahmed Watkins didn’t hate her either.  Ahmed’s mother made yarn from the wild cotton growing in the northeastern corner of the forest, near the swamp.  Andrea liked Eldress Watkins more than she liked her son.  He always seemed so insecure.  Andrea had no patience with his self-effacing ways.

Pierre Sanchez was the best looking one in the group.  But she couldn’t handle his stuck-up attitude and the way he teased her all the time.  She hated him as much as he hated her.

That left Juan Burr.  He had dark hair, dark eyes and honey brown skin that looked like he spent a lot of time in the sun.  He was Carpenter Wu’s apprentice and his parents worked in the village greenhouses.  His hatred of Andrea stemmed from second grade, when she kept telling the teacher every time he tried to cheat on a test.

  None of them would choose her.  She didn’t want to marry any of them, either. She knew marriage was forever, and she didn’t want to be stuck with any of her classmates.  The problem was, what happened if there wasn’t anyone for her?  Everyone in the village was married.  Man with wife.  That was the natural order.  She’d seen it all her life.  What would the Elders say if she told them she wanted to stay unmarried?  What would her parents say?  With three more girls than boys, they must know it would happen.

She still had no sloution to her problem when Firstday dawned.  Normally Andrea went to her Grandfather Warcloud’s greenhouse where she learned plant genetics.  Instead, she rose early and dutifully prepared for marriage class.  She braided her waist-length honey brown hair, enjoying the feel of the weight as she curved the braid on top of her head.  The braid kept her hair from getting in her face or tangling in branches when she was hunting.  She checked her pack to be sure her ropes were neatly coiled before slipping it onto her back.   She slipped her slingshot onto her belt next to its pouch of rocks.  She checked her hunting knife before slipping it into its sheath   She was proud that it was sharp enough to split a hair.   It was time to go to class.

When she stepped out of the house she saw her breath condensing to a white fog in the cool morning air.  Sweet smelling blooms covered the tree branches above her house.   The faint sound of buzzing told her insects were already gathering the sweet nectar.  She loved that tree so much that she picked one exactly like it to build her home under when she became an adult.

The dense forest kept the houses deeply shadowed.   Andrea knew the sun was up because she saw sunlight touching the tops of the trees above her.  The bits of sky she saw between the treetops were blue, but everything around her looked gray in the dim shadows.  She loved this time of morning.  It smelled so fresh, like anything could happen.  All her life she felt like someday something remarkable was going to happen.  Mornings like this made her believe today might be the day.
She walked towards the park, aware of the springy feel of the forest mulch beneath her feet.  No weeds or bushes grew through the thick mulch, so the ground under the trees would be a rich brown once the sun was high in the sky.
Towards the center of the village, the trees grew farther apart and more light reached the ground.  In the twilight of early dawn the difference wasn’t visible, but when the sun was higher in the sky, this part of the village was bright and cheerful.   

The park was in the center of the village.  The lack of trees here made it the brightest place in the forest.  Grass grew in a soft, thick coat on the ground.  She avoided walking on the grass because it was covered with dew.  The sun wasn’t high enough to peek into the park yet, but enough light diffused from the sky so the grass and trees were beginning to look green instead of gray. 

The elders held classes in a white building next to the park.  She entered the room to see it had changed little since school.  Thirteen desks were in four rows facing a board the teacher would use to explain difficult points.  There was a chair for the teacher off to the side, and a large desk. 

She was glad to see someone had adjusted the desks and made them bigger.  All of the students had grown so much.  She hadn’t noticed it out in the forest, but now that they were all in a classroom it was unmistakable.  Everyone towered over the desks.

Pierre was the first person to see her.  He’d grown tall in the years since school ended, and now his dark curly hair almost touched his broad shoulders.  Andrea wondered if he was still good at mental math.

“Look everyone!  Andrea, the great hunter has decided to join us.  Killed any duprees lately?”

Andrea looked up into his dark eyes framed attractively by equally dark brows.  No matter how good-looking he was, she still hated him for always teasing her.  He stared back at her, silently daring her to challenge him.   She wanted to wipe that mocking smile off his face.  They might have had a fight then and there if Elder Benson hadn’t entered the room and called the class to order.  Andrea picked a seat.  To her dismay, Pierre chose the seat right behind her.  A few stragglers entered the room and class began.

Three years ago school ended and all of them became apprentices.  Now classes were starting again and being together excited everyone.  Little missiles whizzed across the room and students were whispering to one another.  Elder Benson reviewed the basics of a hunt, facts all of them learned years before.  Andrea wondered why she was wasting her time sitting here when she could be out foraging at the Giant’s Bench.  She’d rather be hunting rock bounders instead of hearing someone teach about it.  She stopped listening to the lecture and began to daydream, imagining she was out in the woods hunting.

Suddenly she heard the guttural roar of a dupree right behind her.   In one fluid movement she was out of her seat, her hunting knife in her hand.  Instead of facing a large wildcat, she found she was holding her knife in the face of a flabbergasted Pierre.  The class was suddenly quiet. 

Pierre started to stammer.  “Andrea, I….  I’m….  I’m sorry.   I didn’t mean anything.”

Andrea stood there a moment more in shock, looking around for the dupree.  The roar sounded so realistic it took her a second to realize Pierre had played a joke on her.  She felt like a fool as she returned her knife to its sheath.

Pierre grinned once she returned the knife to its sheath.  His eyes sparkled in victory.  “Did you let your imagination get the best of you again?”

Elder Benson interrupted.  “Thank you, Andrea, for that flawless demonstration of preparedness.  I am disappointed no one else jumped forward to protect their classmates from a potential danger.”

Although Elder Benson was serious, Pierre laughed.  Then a few other students started chuckling.  Andrea looked around the classroom as more students joined in the laughter.  Her face burned with embarrassment and anger.   She ran out of the classroom, needing to escape the laughter.  She knew more about hunting than any of them.  She actually had killed a dupree when she was 12, no matter what that fool, Pierre, thought.  Tears filled her eyes as she rushed through the village and into the forest on the path towards the giant’s bench.

A willowy 17-year old with watchful blue eyes that missed nothing, she had the natural grace and alertness of someone who spent hours tracking prey.  Her tan clothing blended into grays and browns of the forest.  Her long pants and long-sleeved top fit closely so they wouldn’t catch on branches.  She moved quietly, and knew how to disappear, blending easily into the forest. 

When she was certain she was alone, she stopped and brushed the tears from her eyes.  They all hated her and she didn't know why.  She worked so hard to do everything right.  She thought being the best at everything would make her popular, but it didn't.  She did everything her parents and teachers asked her to do.  And the other kids still hated her.  Marriage day was coming, and she was going to have to stand in front of the whole village and admit no one wanted to marry her, admit she wasn’t wanted.  She didn't want to marry any of the boys in her class, but she hated to admit she was unpopular.  She wished someone thought she was special.  She wanted someone to love her the way her father loved her mother. 

But wishing wouldn't make it so.  When she was young, she heard there was another village.    She explored every corner of the forest, and didn’t find anyone else living anywhere.  Her hope of finding a dream man in some unexplored corner of the forest died long ago.

She had control of her tears, so she could walk through the forest safely.  Her face was hot and her eyes still burned, but her vision was clear so she would see or hear a predator before it could attack her.

She started walking again.  She knew this part of the forest well, but she kept alert, testing the air for the scent of animals or other people.  She left the perfume of the flowering trees behind and the spicy scent of the evergreens filled her nostrils.  Walking made her feel better.  She didn't expect to see anything dangerous this close to the village, but she might catch a rabbit or a bird.  She was tired of eating chicken all the time.

The village grew vegetables, grain and chickens.   Between gathering what grew in the forest and hunting the small rabbits, birds and other creatures, there was more than enough food to get by.  In addition, the giants walking along the edges of the forest often dropped bits of food near the bench.  The food the giants dropped tasted better than the forest food, so the children foraged daily.  It took skill and cunning to gather giant food, and Andrea was a superior forager.   Tradition said she would continue to forage for her parents until the day she chose a mate and started her own family.   If today was any clue, she would provide for her parents forever.   

Andrea heard the giants long before she was close enough to see them.  It was full daylight now, and the grays of the early morning turned into the rich dark greens and browns of the shadowed forest.  Green light surrounded her, with brighter spots where golden sunlight beamed through the thick forest canopy.   The next turn in the path allowed her to see the giant road.  The sunlight reflected so brightly off the light colored stone that it blinded her when she looked in that direction.  She needed a few minutes to let her eyes adjust to that much light. 

‘Hi Andrea!”  Her sister waved. “Lots of giants this morning.”

Andrea’s two brothers were at their favorite spot, as well as almost twenty other children.  Today must be a school holiday.   The children were glad to see her.   Most of the young ones treated Andrea like a hero.  She was the best hunter and the best forager in the village.  Even though she wasn’t an adult yet, the elders sang several songs praising her accomplishments.
"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't havto get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon." Robert Cormier
 

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Offline Wantabe

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Re: Young adult sci fi
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2006, 04:56:41 PM »
It took a moment to be pulled in, but it is a good read.  I am no expert, but I think this is worth a shot.  Don't worry about what others say.  It takes courage to send a manuscript in.  Your imagination is good.  I can't say much else because I am not in a position to as I am not an accomplished writer yet.  I suggest you wait for a more qualified critic for the more indepth stuff.  Good luck...

BiancaMiller13

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Re: Young adult sci fi
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2006, 12:34:23 PM »
Orchid,

BiancaMiller13

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Re: Young adult sci fi
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2006, 12:35:29 PM »
Maybe If Ican get over this adult ADD I can complete a thought in here. :)  I will read over this and comment soon.

Offline orchid15

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Re: Young adult sci fi
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2006, 12:25:23 PM »
Sorry it has taken me so long to answer, but I have been sick and not thinking clearly enough to answer here,

Wannabe-  your remarks were just what I was concerned with. I know the piece is grammatically correct- or nearly so.  But even though I rewrote the beginning, I wondered if it was still a slow start.  You told me it was, and now I have rewritten the first scene.  It isn't typed yet, but I will get it to you to find out if it draws you into the story more quickly.  That is what I need help with most, getting the beginning going fast-  and I seem to have a blind spot there.

thanks

orchid15
"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't havto get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon." Robert Cormier
 

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Offline Mini

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Re: Young adult sci fi
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2006, 07:01:35 AM »
Hello Orchid,

Once it gets going it is great.

I think it is a bit slow when we are being introduced to the suitors. But I every reader will have a different response to this. 

If anything does need editing I am sure an editor will be able to point you in the right direction.

As for the replies of the others,  I was under the impression tha tan ability to read and add constructive comments are all the qualifications required. We can learn as much from analysing other peoples work as from our own.

Offline Rebecca Anne

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Re: Young adult sci fi
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2006, 01:45:30 PM »
Hi Orchid,
     The very first line drew me in.  A dreaded announcement makes the reader want to know what that announcement is.  You have a well constructed, interesting world and a well defined main character.  The point of view is flawless, no breaks.  The only point I can think of, and it is just a matter of opinion, is that "breath condensing to a white fog" sounds a bit cold for blooms and insects. 
Rebecca Anne

Offline orchid15

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Re: Young adult sci fi
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2006, 03:03:01 AM »
Good point Rebecca Anne

 I rewrite the first two pages,  Do they work better- does it draw the reader in better?  Does introducing the suitors flow better-- less slow?  I reallly want to grab the reader soon.
***

Her father spoke the words Andrea had been dreading as if they were part of any other dinner conversation. But in Andrea’s mind the words came crashing around her like boulders, building walls and trapping her inside.

“Marriage classes start next week.”

“So soon?”  Mother remarked.  Andrea knew by the tone of her mother's voice that she was upset.  She wondered why.  Andrea was the one with the problem.  She was the one who was expected to pick a marriage partner.  She'd been dreading this day for years, because there was no one in the village she wanted to marry.

“Oh Pierre.”  Her brother Kevin said in a falsetto voice.  Her younger brother Eddie made loud kissing noises.  Andrea gritted her teeth.  Usually, she and her brothers got along well.  But Kevin sometimes got into these weird moods.  What he needed was a good smacking, and if she had been alone she would have hit him.  Since her parents were there, she had to be nice.

“Pierre hates me and I hate him.  He always tells how I lied about killing the dupree when I was twelve.”

Andrea's father gave an involuntary glance towards her bedroom, where the carnivore’s skin covered her bed, a token of her skill and victory.  Even an adult would have trouble killing such a dangerous animal.  He could understand a proud boy like Pierre resenting Andrea's accomplishment.

“Ahmed is a nice boy.” her mother suggested.

“Not likely” Andrea answered.  Ahmed was unsure of himself and very quiet.  She had no patience with his self-effacing ways.  “Ahmed is too…” she looked at her mother before saying more.  Family rules were very strict about saying bad things about others.  She chose her words carefully.  “Ahmed is too shy.”

“What about Juan.” her sister, Dora, suggested.

“He cheated on his tests in second-grade.”

“Andrea!”  Her mother spoke sharply. “How can you still be holding that against him?”

“I'm not, Mom, but he never forgave me for telling the teacher on him.  He hates me.”

“Oh Andrea.  I'm sure you're exaggerating.” her mother answered.

Andrea wanted to change the subject.  She didn't like to think about the upcoming marriage day.  She didn't like any of the eligible boys and they didn't like her.  She had no desire to pick a husband and wondered how she could get out of it.

“What about my apprenticeship with Grandpa Warcloud?”  Andrea asked her father.

“Founder Warcloud, Andrea.”  Her father corrected.  “While you are his apprentice, you must call him by his title.”

“What about my apprenticeship with Founder Warcloud?”  Andrea asked obediently.

“All apprenticeships end when marriage class starts.”

“Oh.”  Andrea was sincerely disappointed.  She loved her work researching plant genetics and propagating new varieties.

The next day was the village picnic.  Although Andrea was expecting the elder’s announcement, the words still upset her.

“The Founders have chosen the fall equinox to be Marriage Day.  Marriage classes will start for Group One on Firstday.”  The elder’s voice droned on.  He stood on a raised platform at a corner of the park as he made the rest of the week’s announcements.  Most of the villagers were eager to hear what was planned for the next week, but Andrea wasn’t listening any more.  She was still thinking about the problem of choosing a marriage partner. 

She didn’t have much choice in the matter.  Group One only had five boys, and one was her cousin Joseph.  That left four to choose from.  She always felt insecure and unwanted around the other students.  She was sure none of the boys wanted to marry her.

 She thought about Kim Wu?  His mother taught primary school, and his father was the village carpenter.  He had dreamy almond-shaped eyes and hair so black it looked almost blue.  He looked like he knew deep secrets, and it was hard to tell what he was thinking.  He was easy to get along with, and he didn’t hate her.

Pierre Sanchez was the best looking one in the group.  But she couldn’t handle his stuck-up attitude and the way he teased her all the time.  She hated him as much as he hated her.

Juan hated her and Ahmed was too shy and insecure.  She was certain no one in Group One would choose her.  She didn’t want to marry any of them, either. She knew marriage was forever, and she didn’t want to be stuck with any of her classmates.  The problem was, what happened if there wasn’t anyone for her?  Everyone in the village was married.  Man with wife.  That was the natural order.  She’d seen it all her life.  What would the Elders say if she told them she wanted to stay unmarried?  What would her parents say?  With three more girls than boys in Group one, they must know it would happen.

Firstday dawned.  Normally Andrea went to her Grandfather Warcloud’s greenhouse where she learned plant genetics.  Instead, she rose early and dutifully prepared for marriage class.  She braided her waist-length honey brown hair, enjoying the feel of the weight as she curved the braid on top of her head.  The braid kept her hair from getting in her face or tangling in branches when she was hunting.  She checked her pack to be sure her ropes were neatly coiled before slipping it onto her back.   She fastened her slingshot onto her belt next to its pouch of rocks.  She checked her hunting knife before slipping it into its sheath   She was proud that it was sharp enough to split a hair.   It was time to go to class.

When she stepped out of the house she inhaled deeply, enjoying the scent of the crisp morning air.  Sweet smelling blooms covered the tree branches above her house.   The faint sound of buzzing told her insects were already gathering the sweet nectar.  She loved that tree so much that she picked one exactly like it to build her home under when she became an adult.

The dense forest kept the houses deeply shadowed.   Andrea knew the sun was up because she saw sunlight touching the tops of the trees above her.  The bits of sky she saw between the treetops were blue, but everything around her looked gray in the dim shadows.  She loved this time of morning.  It smelled so fresh, like anything could happen.  All her life she felt like someday something remarkable was going to happen.  Mornings like this made her believe today might be the day.

She walked towards the park, aware of the springy feel of the forest mulch beneath her feet.  No weeds or bushes grew through the thick mulch, so the ground under the trees would be a rich brown once the sun was high in the sky
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 03:16:09 AM by orchid15 »
"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't havto get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon." Robert Cormier
 

website: www.leonashappyplace.com    newsletter:Leonas BrainCandy

Offline justwright

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Re: Young adult sci fi
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2008, 01:20:46 PM »
Nice job.