Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are You Hooked? #5

TITLE: The Secret of Mount Pella
GENRE: YA Historical Fiction

Her mother’s words, laden with impending death, seared Satara’s heart but ignited her soul.
   “This is a very important necklace, Satara.” With a shaky hand, Lucia placed it in her hand. “The key on this necklace opens the way to Mount Pella. There you will find the Secret Place.”
    “What do you mean, Mother?”
    “One day, you will have your own adventure, your own quest,” her raspy voice crackled. “You must make your way to Athenica, through the back gates of the palace, and up to the first summit.”
    “The palace? How will I ever get there?”
    “You will know when the time comes, my dear. It is your destiny.” Lucia clenched her eyes shut. Whether in pain or in recollection of something, Satara couldn’t tell.  
     Satara’s forehead tightened with concern. “Mother, you must rest.” Perhaps the fever was affecting her mother’s mind.
    “Not yet. You must promise me to keep this necklace safe. You are special, my child. You will do great things, but you must promise me.”
    “I promise, Mother.” She kissed her mother’s forehead and Lucia closed her eyes for the last time.


  1. Your opening piqued my interest, for sure, but I think the execution of the opening could be re-worked to be much stronger, more alluring, more enticing.

    My first thought was to introduce us to Satara, perhaps in her grief at her mother's passing, gripping the necklace, the last gift her mother gave her. Then show this scene you've given us as a flash back.

    Otherwise, if you are committed to beginning with the scene itself, I think it needs to be grounded with more details. What is the setting? Are they in a room? What does it looks like? What does it smell like?

    How does Satara react mother rambling about palaces out of the the blue? What does the necklace look like? How does it feel in her hand?

    I've heard the advice that your protagonist needs to want something, even if its just a drink of water. What does Satara want? I don't get a sense of it yet.

    1. Thank you, Sasha. This is actually a flashback that opens the story, but you make some very good points. Much for me to consider.

  2. My suggestion would be not to open with a flashback. Save it for chapter two. Instead, start with where she is now. This is historical. Place us in time and space. What country are we in? What time period? Is she wearing that necklace? Clutching it in her hand? On her way to Mount Pella?

    Involve us in what she's doing now, and what her problem/goal is now. After you've reeled us in, then give us some backstory. A dying person leaving a loved one a cryptic message has been done a miilion times, and while it can work and be effective (why else would it be used so much) do you really want to start with a cliche?

  3. I agree with Barbara. I found myself wondering where I was. I wouldn't start with this flashback unless you can make can show more details that would push the story forward.
    I was curious about what the necklace looked like and what is this "Secret Place". The place had me wanting to read more.

  4. Unfortunately, I think I will mostly be agreeing with the others here. I'm not a fan of prologues, and that is what this reads as. Something that happened before the story begins.

    I would echo the recommendations to start somewhere closer to the action. Whether she is on her way to the palace or already there, and then she can flashback to the moment you have written.

    Either way, I'd like more of a description around the necklace, as it seems to be a very important item in your story.

  5. Thank you everyone for your comments! Lots to work on now.

  6. I also agree with what's been said. I agree with Barbara about this opening not being unique enough..it feels like a cliche way to begin. I also need more grounding in the setting. I think your world building should start right away, right now they are characters in a blank white room. I think this will be good though.

  7. I'm curious, but there's too much dialogue at the start from people I don't yet know or care about. Try bringing in more movement and action.