Saturday, May 28, 2011

Made of Awesome Contest Submission

For those of you who also entered the Power of Tension Blogfest, I apologize for the duplicate.  My submission to the blogfest also happened to be the first 250 words of my manuscript.

Thank you for your feedback!

Title: Stormland
Genre: Urban fantasy
Word Count: 67,000

“Why isn’t the sky blue anymore?”

The man sat under a bridge with his niece huddled beside him.  The black rain seeped through the cracks above and left little pools of ash on the pale skin of the girl’s arms.  The child reminded him of a doll that had been left out in the rain and ruined.  Her hair was so tangled and matted that he had cut it into short uneven clumps. 

“Why isn’t the sky blue anymore?” she asked again.

Lena, dear, I don’t know.”

“Yes, you do.”

“The sky is a giant mirror that reflected the blue oceans.  But someone threw a rock at the sky and it shattered.  So now we just see what was behind the sky.”

“Can they fix it?”


The brush nearby crackled and he was there.  The child pressed herself closer to him.

Lena, I want you to go with this man.”

Her little green eyes went wide with fright.  “I want to stay with you.”

He took a deep breath to hold back tears.  “I am no good at taking care of you.  He is going to take you to a better place, a place where the sky is still blue.”

“Will Mommy and Daddy be there?”

Each time she asked of them, he felt like his heart would burst.  But this would be the last time he would have to say it.

“You won’t see Mommy and Daddy for a long time.  They will meet you in heaven.”


  1. Awesome! Only one small sentance I would change.
    "Her hair was so tangled and matted that he had cut it into short uneven clumps. "
    The flow her is off by a touch I had to re-read it twice. Other then that I am interested. I can see the people in my mind.

  2. If you can, I'd start this with the second paragraph so that the opening line isn't dialogue.

    Very easy to follow everything else, except I confused the uncle for the man in the second sentence because both men are referred to as pronouns rather than by names:
    The brush nearby crackled and he was there. The child pressed herself closer to **him**.

    This reads a bit like a prologue to me. I'd keep reading if I had picked this up in a book store, though if you have more tension in your first chapter, I would consider cutting this and starting there instead.

    I'd love a visual description of what's behind the sky. Is it like the stars at night, or is it red, is it a bunch of gears and computer parts, or gray storm clouds? It was easy to feel sympathetic for the girl and uncle.

    Good luck!

  3. very cool stuff here. i can agree with the haircut line mentioned earlier. it was the one line i read twice to grasp what was being said. perhaps there is a way to smooth that out?

    also, yes, if you added a name or description in the paragraph you mention the two men it might help differentiate who is who.

    LOVE the explanation of the sky not being really puts us in the right mindset to keep reading knowing this is not our "when" and possibly not our world even.

    douglas esper

  4. Great feedback! I think I might have shot myself in the foot a little but trying to cut words from this section to make it under 250 dialog tags. Clutzattack, you are right, this is the prologue. Thanks all!

  5. I enjoyed it and I like the opening being dialogue. I did confuse the uncle and the man also, maybe there is way to fix that? All in all I thought it was a great beginning, although I want to know the real reason the sky isn't blue. :)

  6. I enjoyed this a lot! I really want to know who this guy is, what he's doing with this little girl, what's going on around them to have ash seep through and drop on her skin.

    That being said, I just have a few suggestions. The first paragraph has some sentences that could be tightened by cleaning up the prepositional phrases (ex. on the pale skin of the girl's arms = on the girl's pale arms) It's easy to get lost and confused in long sentences so you probably don't want to start with them right away. Second - I'm okay with dialogue starting a story, but it's hard to pull off if we don't know who's talking. I really don't think you need that first line, IMHO.

    Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  7. this reminds me of the road by cormac mccarthy? as a prologue, it doesn't tell me much about what the story is going to be about. i'm not even sure who the mc is? because the pov of this was from the adult male.

    but i liked the little details you included a lot. i especially loved the way the man & the girl's relationship was developed through their interaction.

  8. Alison & JSC, thanks for the suggestions! JSC, fyi, I just tried to comment on your post but got a message delivery failure. Maybe the email address connected to your blog is wrong? Just wanted to let you know!

  9. Ahh, this was very moving, I loved it. I thought it ended way too soon. Great job!

  10. Emotionally interesting opening scene. Just a few thoughts:
    Your second paragraph contains rain twice - consider rewording one occurence. Also, is the rain really black? I have this idea in my head that it's raining oil or something.

    Best of luck!

  11. I was about to copy the same line Clutzattack already did - yes, it should be more clear that there are now 2 men there. And I wonder how the little girl knows it used to be blue, but not why it isn't anymore?? Did this event JUST take place and hasn't been explained to her? One other question - should it be "The sky WAS a giant mirror that reflected the blue oceans"??

    Overall, I'm not in love with prologues and would rather get to the "meat" of the story. But it's all about how you should write to be true to the story. Good luck and this was really interesting!

  12. I really like this. Love the innocence that we get of the girl and the description of her. I think you could maybe insert a little more exposition in when the man comes to take her away. Some description of him or something. His entrance is a bit too abrupt. Otherwise, very good!

    Good luck with it. :)

  13. I liked this a lot despite the lack of any real conflict or tension. I love the idea of the sky being black. One line bugged me though.. 'When she asked of them..." Shouldn't it be 'When she asked about them...' or 'When she asked for them...'?

    I'd certainly read on based on this.

  14. I thought this was beautiful. In only 250 words you have made me care for the characters and wonder what is going on. Small suggestions, if possible, could you put the man's name instead of saying the man? Bob Smith sat under a bridge... I think this is good though, good luck,

  15. Thank you all so much! This is great feedback and I am mulling it over before I submit. Good luck to you all!

  16. Very nice! I love it. Good luck. :-)

  17. I just read your query on Susan's blog and had to come here and read more about STORMLAND. It sounds great!!

  18. Thank you, Lo. That's great to hear! :)