Author Topic: Victimless. (Urban Fantasy YA) (Chapter 1. 2000 words) (Mild Language)  (Read 703 times)

Offline Zaheer547

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Hey everyone! Here is the first chapter of my current manuscript titled VICTIMLESS. Any criticism or review is greatly appreciated. Beware, it’s a lengthy first chapter. WARNING: Mild Language used and mentioned themes of drugs and alcohol.

“It was Friday The 13th, the night before Halloween-”

“Wait wait hold up…” I interrupt, “you realize how stupid you sound right? Isn't Halloween on the 31st?” Our group of friends sit in laughter until Leigh plucks up the courage and continues on from the embarrassment.

“Shut up Chelsea!” Leigh says failing to keep up her gentle nature. I lift my hands up in a surrendering motion but the background noise is instantly filled with the school bell which ends our little session. “Great, I blame you,” Leigh chuffs, “we’ll continue tomorrow, okay?”

“Do we have to?” one of the people that joined us today groans. Leigh rolls her eyes and clicks her tongue at him whilst he laughs.

“Well… it was nice bunking with you losers but I have things to do and places to be” I smile the words out of my mouth.

“No you don’t!” Leigh snaps with a smile as we walk out the empty classroom together. We begin to watch as everyone packs up and gets ready to go home.

My thoughts are interrupted by the husky voices of the jocks who obliterate everything in their path through the hallway. Chad, Tommy, and Nick. These three fill the stereotype of dumb preppy jocks. They are cute though. Makes sense why all of the girls fall head over heels for him.

“Ugh,” Leigh turns her face, “I honestly hate the jocks. Like who would even wanna be friends with them. Heck, what kind of monster would give birth to such delinquents?”

“Don’t insult their mothers like that. Probably deadbeat dads that passed their genes ya’know?” I reply.

“On a lesbian scale, they wouldn’t turn me. But for you… maybe.”

We tear up with laughter although we know it isn’t even that funny but we don’t care anyways.

“Well I should get going. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Leigh says as she hugs me goodbye. I watch as Leigh walks through the school doors when a tap on my shoulder brings me back to reality.

It was the big built Nick Rogers. I search him top to bottom but all I see is a blank greek statue. All muscles but no brains. He better choose his next words wisely.

“Hey Chelsea,” he says in a tone that I've never heard before. Him and I have always been like rivals. He hates my guts and I hate his so why on Earth would he be talking to me let alone with that tone. “I know we haven’t had the best history but I need help with my English homework.”

I almost spat out the water I was drinking. “I’m sorry what?” He stands there with his hands in his pocket almost if he wants me to pity him. “Who put you up to this?”


“You heard me! How much they bet on you to score?”

“Jeez Chelsea. You don’t have to be such a bitch about it”

“Huh… okay.” Hate is a very strong word. I’d prefer to say that we only ever just acknowledge each other’s presence but it ends there. He probably is a decent one of the lot but his other friends are all just jerks who pull pranks on everybody. His friend, Chad, once made me hand in an assignment late - later than usual - because he told me we had an ‘extension.'

I immediately turn around and start to walk out the school. I’m oblivious to the watching faces that stare at me as I walk through the school doors and the sun heats me up from inside out.

I begin my march towards home passing the typical suburban school clicks. The jocks, mean girls, nerds, emo’s and more. All populate the school with their own ugly traits as I recall the memories I have with each of them as they turn and look at me as if I'm the outcast. But I'm not. Well I don’t care anyway so there’s that too.

I make my way through the forest this time on my way home. Normally I would walk past the old union buildings but today was a different day. One of the days where I truly feel a little happy on the inside instead of the deep dark void that I feel every other day. Or at least that’s what I say I feel.

The sun peeks through the roof of the forest in little beams of light while the breeze sends goosebumps up my skin. The sounds of animals in the distance makes me feel content. This year has been quite a good one for me and now with Summer coming up, I can finally just let loose a little.

As I walk on the carved up path, something catches my ears to the bushes on my right. I turn quickly and notice a light shake to the leaves. Inching closer, I make sure each step I take has no echo behind it. Trying to avoid sticks and twigs so that my hunter doesn’t know I'm aware of his movements.

“Oh hell no. Not today. Nice trick whichever animal or thing or whatever is behind there but I'd rather not today. Maybe tomorrow?” I turn with no emotion and continue walking. I wasn’t about to let that something ruin my perfect day.

The small children greet me at the park on the edge of the forest and their high-pitched voices bring a smile as I greet them back.

“Hola Abuela!” I say as I latch the door behind me to my perfectly normal house. The smell of flour mix and vanilla essence immediately hit my nose and linger in the air when I put my bag down.

“Hola Querida,” grandmother replies from the kitchen. “Do you mind helping me in the kitchen?”

“Okay, sure.” I reply and head into the heaven that is a Mexican’s kitchen. Every time I see her face-to-face it just brings back memories that make me want to tear up.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was so excited to see Mom and Dad after I got off the school bus but all I remember is the yellow tape and so I ran inside and found the blood pooled in their room. After that, I started to live with my granny.

I’ve been practically raised by my Abuela and she’s taught me everything I know. Including how to make cookies.

“How was school?”

“Same old bullshit.”

“Hey,” she takes her whisk and holds it up towards me letting some of the batter fly, “watch your language.”

“Lo siento.”

“It’s alright. Here help me. Get the chocolate chips.” We’ve been baking together since I was in diapers. I have this great memory of when the entire bowl of batter ended up on my head and dripped down all over my face. It was not lumpy at all and the peaks were stiff - so that was a plus side.

"Okay all done," I say pushing the last tray into the oven. "I'll be up in my room."
"Thank you, Querida. Love you."

My bedroom door opens with a loud creak. I jump up on the bed and kick my shoes off getting my daily dose of social media as I scroll through my phone. Today was seriously going to be a good day.

“Don’t freak out,” an unfamiliar voice fills the room and I sit up and look around to find the source but nothing.

“Must be hearing things.” I mumble to myself.

“No you aren’t.” I turn to my right facing the window and there it stood -or floated. “Hi.”

“Uhh hi.”

“You aren’t freaked out?” It says as I quickly make my way to the bathroom. I remove one of the floorboards and find my container. After lifting up the lid, I still see a full bag of the crystalline white powder.

“It’s full. I’m not high?”

“What? You think you’re high?” It laughed as the words escaped its mouth. I now turn around slowly until I face it.

“No,” I say as I throw water on my face at the sink that was next to me. It still is behind me when I bring my eyes up to the mirror. I can still see through its translucent body. “I'm not high, I'm not drunk, I'm definitely not dreaming so... what the hell are you?”

“Listen. I can explain-”


“Oh come on. Really?”

The door bursts open and Abuela runs into the bathroom, where I am, with a slipper in her hand. “Spider? Rat? Cockroach?“ she asks ready to swing at whatever comes across her path.

“It was something else, Abuela”

“What?” she asks with a confused face.

“I don’t know.” I say as I look around and see nothing.

“Must be the heat. Come now, Chelsea. Drink some water and go check on the cookies in a while.”

“Okay Abuela. Thank you.” She hums a yes and leaves the room. So much for my normal-ish day. I must’ve been dreaming. There was absolutely nothing in my room. How could there have been, right?

The night slowly creeps in and as I lay in bed I notice how, that when the light from the hallway shines, the door frame actually needs another paint job, and so does the window frame and so do my walls. I go on like this until procrastination is not in my mind anymore and I can finally fall off to sleep. Everything is peaceful.

Obviously that doesn’t last long until I have to go to the bathroom to pee. I urge out of bed to relieve myself. I drop my underwear to my ankles and the sound of piss hitting the side of the toilet seat is actually quite therapeutic if I do say so myself.

“Hi again.” The voice echoes and this time I take note of it. Sounds like a guy’s voice. Maybe eighteen or nineteen years old? Maybe older.

“Dude, can’t you see that I'm peeing?”

“Oh sorry. I’ll wait.” Can’t believe I'm talking to myself like this but I brush it off. Probably PTSD or something like that. I wash my hands and throw water on my face again to clear my head. Lifting the bed covers off and watching outside, the moon lights up my room just enough for me to see myself in the mirror. I jump back in bed and try to fall off to sleep.

“Can we talk now?”

I sigh. “Sure,” I say with my eyes closed and head turned to face the wall.

“Chelsea! I’m serious,” his voice has turned stern and I can sense the tension in the room.

“Fine. I’m up. Happy?” I grunt the words and lift myself up to see nothing.

But… I now notice the slight shimmer in the air. As if the light from outside is being distorted just a bit. I stare at it and stare at it until I see the full shape. It is a guy. Well, a translucent guy. “You’re a ghost?” I come to the realization.

“Why yes I am. But you don’t seem to be freaked out?” his voice returned to its normal pitch.

“Well I still think I’m high so…”

“You’re not high, Chelsea.” he says as he floats just off the edge of my bed. I begin to take note of his full shape. Where his head is, where his arms lead up to and how tall he is. He looks like a normal guy - just see through kinda. I can still see my closets through him -behind him? This is all so confusing but my head hurts so I am probably one hundred percent hallucinating.

“Fine. You have my attention,” I drop my head and listen to what he says.

“I need your help.”

“Great way to start.”

“My names Freddy.”

“You have three seconds to explain what the hell you’re doing in my room or I scream.”
“I just told you that I need your help!”

“You need my help? A seventeen year old girl that literally does nothing with her life besides Netflix.”

“Well, I mean you are my fifth attempt so it’s not like I came looking specifically for a seventeen year old girl.” He says with an off tone as if I should be doing him a favour.

“That’s all I need to know,” I dive back into my pillow and force my eyes shut.

“Wait no Chelsea!”

“Lalalalalalalalalala,” I bawl, “I can’t hear you.” Before I know it, he’s gone without a trace. The eerie distortion of light in the room is now gone too and I saw no human shape at all. I stare at myself in the mirror trying to contemplate everything. I can still trace where the beam of light shifted into becoming something else. But now, nothing.

What the heck is going on?
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 04:28:51 PM by Zaheer547 »

Offline PIJ1951

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Re: Victimless. (Urban Fantasy YA) (Chapter 1. 2000 words) (Mild Language)
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2019, 07:37:12 AM »
First impressions - it kept me reading. . . but I'm not sure why.

Let me explain.

The first half reminded me of every single teen movie I've ever seen. There's nothing fresh here - nothing to grab the attention since every character would appear to be what we have come to expect from an over-worked genre - the nerdy swot, the jock, the cliques (not 'clicks'). It's as if you've stopped by at the 'American High School Character' shop and bought a set of stereotypical characters. Even your MC's name - Chelsea - is a cliche. It's hardly Mexican, is it? And the dialogue is just idle chit-chat. It doesn't reveal anything interesting about your characters and doesn't drive the plot forwards. In other words, your opening serves no purpose.

Your characters might well be YA but few readers of this age group are going to find anything new here. It's all been done a million times before.

Then we have the walk home through the forest. I'm not sure whether or not it's supposed to be creepy - but it wasn't. It left me wondering why I'd needed to read about it at all. And the domestic scene with grandma is more of the same. Nothing interesting is happening - nothing to make the reader sit up and pay attention apart from the throwaway line about the parents being murdered. But that's over in a flash.

The stash of cocaine (?) hidden beneath the floorboards made me laugh out loud by the way. Your narrator is the last person I'd expect to be doing drugs given the way she acts - and storing such a large quantity of class A drugs in her grandmother's house is nonsensical. My advice - exchange the full bag of white powder for a half-smoked spliff and it might begin to approach reality.

Unfortunately, what follows pretty much killed it dead for me. The magic voice belonging to someone called Freddie and Chelsea's low-key reaction were impossible to take seriously. It was like a genie in a lamp appearing half way through 'The Fault in Our Stars'.

You tell us it's aimed at a YA audience but the subject matter reads closer to fairy tale. I'm not sure how many YA books you have read but most YA readers are a discerning bunch. They expect much more than this, I'm afraid. It's not dark enough. It's not intriguing enough. It's not rooted in reality - which is what most fantasy relies on. And your characters appear to be rather two-dimensional.

For what it's worth, I'd look at ditching the opening chapter because your story starts in completely the wrong place.

My advice, read as much YA as you can. Try to make your story hit the ground running. Look at ways of making Chelsea more believable (I do like her as a character, but she's wafer thin at the moment) and maybe consider making the fantasy aspect more creepy (at the moment it's as scary as Casper the Friendly Ghost).

Good luck.

Offline jadynm1234567

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Re: Victimless. (Urban Fantasy YA) (Chapter 1. 2000 words) (Mild Language)
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2019, 11:25:27 PM »
Personally, I think Chelsea is fine. Just because she's Mexican doesn't mean she's going to have a Hispanic name.

I disagree with saying that this can't be young adult. I think your mood is light and funny, especially with Chelsea's reaction to the ghost, and I am a young adult. It doesn't have to be dark or deep to be entertaining, and you have a fun voice in your writing. I think they didn't understand what you're trying to do. Along with this, I just want to share that just because you are doing something that has been done several times before doesn't make it less valid or interesting. You have a funny, unique voice, and if you want to write a generic high school scene, you can absolutely do it. However, I would definitely run it differently. At first I thought I'd misread the genre and this was going to be a romance novel with the whole "Jock asks for help with homework" thing, and I don't understand the point. What is the point of these people? Are you using them? If you're using Leigh, maybe have them walking home from school, and having a conversation. If you're using Jock dude, maybe have him run into them. Something a little different than a typical high school day. If you're trying to use this scene to characterize, I'd show a little more meaningful dialogue. It doesn't necessarily have to be serious, but have it show something about the character. Maybe, since she is about to meet a ghost, have a little foreshadowing. Have Chelsea mention that she's been having trouble sleeping, or has been feeling really unsettled in her room. That's a little bit of an attention grabber.

I loved the grandma scene! It showed a new relationship and I enjoyed their banter. I would handle the sentence with the parents differently; maybe have a small flashback as she walks through the door, or sees some of her mom/dad in her grandma for a moment and is sad. Maybe she even has a hard time opening the door and finding her grandma the same way she found her parents.

With the cocaine... that's pretty hardcore. Addiction is common with cocaine. You don't usually just do cocaine every once in a while for fun. You don't have to include drugs if you don't want to, but if you really want, you could probably have some weed or something a little less... expensive and addictive as cocaine.

You're doing a great job! It's hard to write and harder to post for people to read. You're making progress, taking strides, and I'm proud of you. Keep writing!