Sunday 29 May 2011

Shelley's Latest Competition STARRING

Shelley Watters is holding a competition.

Judith Engracia
All you have to do is post the first 250 words of your manuscript for a chance to win a 10-page critique!

       The guest agent for the competition is Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson and Associates

Judith is building her client list and looking for all types of fiction, especially middle grade, young adult, urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance.
Genre: MG Magical realism
Word Count 30,000 words

Lucas Orme is a Twink, accepted at Tallin School because he has a glimmer of magical ability. It is bad enough to know you are failing, but Lucas knows it's worse to not remember and the Twinks who fail to meet the standards are wiped. Lucas passes a test, mostly by accident but he and his friend, Rowland, are accused of Starring - forcing magical ability to develop, by using magic - and the punishment for the crime is fiery.


Mist from the river lay low and soupy, but not as thick as usual. It was well past midnight. Moonlight illuminated the grounds outside. It shone in at the first floor landing and pinned Lucas in its spotlight when he transferred his weight onto the top step and the whole world creaked.
The night staff desk was suddenly silent. The shushing sound he made wasn’t a wish or some well-worked magic: Lucas cursed. He whispered it a lot. Frozen - one foot hovering between steps - Lucas waited. Matron's snore began again, painful and high, like air escaping from the mouth of a stretched balloon. Lucas placed his foot as close to the wall as he could. He grinned. He risked the next couple steps more quickly.
"You won't be able to get out," a voice whispered, "the doors are charmed at night." In the shadow that fell over the first set of Quarters, Rowland, the Class Captain, leaned against the wall.

Lucas' heart flipped from anticipation to disappointment.
“Why?” Rowland moved in to the moonlight, “It’s not like your par–”
 "I hate it here," said Lucas. Crumpling onto the step, he grabbed his bag and squeezed the air out of it.
Rowland held one palm to the landing behind him, put an index finger to his lips and said, "Shh!"
Lucas felt his fine hairs rise. The sound from his bag went from strangled to silent. Lucas jumped back to his feet again. "See?" he whispered loudly, "That's what I'm talking about. I hate it here."

I would love to read your thoughts on this wip. Thank you. :D


  1. This isn't a genre I read in (although my son does and so do a bunch of boys his age around here - 4th grade), but I like it and would be interested in reading more based on the writing and the tense scene - I love "the whole world creaked"! My only suggestion is to maybe point out that Matron is the guy at the night desk (I wasn't sure what Matron was until I re-read it).

  2. I had to read this twice to understand what was going on, so I'm thinking the writing could be a bit more straight forward. I don't understand why he's strangling his bag and because you mentioned magic, I thought the door was talking at first instead of his friend Rowland. I'm assuming the paragraph before STARRING isn't part of the chapter, because it's telly and not a great transition. This is a good beginning but there are parts that can be presented clearer.

  3. You have some very nice descriptions, like the snore/balloon and 'felt his fine hairs rise'. I would have preferred a briefer description before intoducing Lucas. He sees the moonlight where he is, not on the grounds, and he can't see the mist. I didn't understand what he's shushing/cursing/whispering. In several cases, a simpler sentence structure would be better than using introductory clauses. At the end, I didn't understand what's up with the bag. Is something in it? Is it a magical bag?

  4. I do like this genre so I would be interested in reading more. However I was a little confused at points. The quote of Why it's not like... I didn't understand who was talking at first. I guess overall you have a very interesting concept and a great drama of him hating where he is but it needs to be made clearer for the reader. Good luck!

  5. I am assuming the first paragraph is the pitch. ;)

    I had to assume the part where the curses over again, because a kid cursing? Depends on how old the kid is, I guess.

    I really, really like your descriptions.

  6. Great descriptions. I was interested and then Lucas said,"I hate it here." That hooked me. From that point on, the voice was pure and MG. I would definately keep reading (and know my kids would, too.) Nice work.

  7. It seems an interesting start but in need of some work. The first paragraph in particular. I also noticed this is a WIP? It is a great way to get your stuff seen but the rules are for complete works only... Unless your page is just not updated and the work is finished then ignore me completely!

  8. I love the opening paragraph. I love the MC's anxiety. Great dynamic established here.

    "The shushing sound he made wasn’t a wish or some well-worked magic: Lucas cursed." This sentence is great, but I did have to read it a few times to get what it was saying. Same thing with the strangling bag.

    Great set up! I would read on for sure.

  9. I love your descriptions here. Lucas's distress is evident and compelling. I agree with the comments that said some places are confusing. In this case you've almost got too much showing and not enough telling going on. Maybe put in some brief explanations of each of the things you're describing - simple one or two word statments to tell us what we're looking at that you've described.

    Great job on tension and character development ^_^