Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Critique contest Entry no. 10

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (http://beyondthehourglassbridge.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/critique-contest-and-giveaway.html)

Genre: YA Fantasy
First Page:

Under the planet’s churning blue waves, the sandy seabed sparkled from Vis Decor’s two suns. Nothing lived directly under the surface for the suns’ radiation wiped it out, but about a half mile down, the rays twinkled on a blooming coral reef. On top of it, fifteen-year-old Alphi McClure lay.
Around her, red coral spiked up in the water in a splash of color, and pink formations slithered over rocks like worms. Green brain coral snaked around the orange tubes, which lay motionless until—Plop! An Alpha popped out of the tube. Then another, and another, their smooth, off-white scales glistening as they swam out of their houses.
"Malcorianism meeting!" one of the Alphas said. He tightened the thin membrane that attached his legs. They clamped together and he swam off, pumping his newly formed fin.
Alphi stared at the huge diamond-like formation, the Pinoe, a distance away. The Pinoe jutted out with slates of green and red coral, and every single Alpha in the village swam to it.
Except Alphi. She rested beneath a blue arch, playing with her feet as cool currents breezed past her webbed fingers and toes.
"Alphi." One woman stood next to a pink arch. Her skin was barely white enough to be called a Pure, and many mothers surrounded her, pearls hanging from their skinny white necks.
"Megna." Alphi pulled her feet apart, the fin turning into two limbs as she slapped away the fish that swam around her head. She rose to her tall height, her chest heaving.
"Will you go to your mother’s speech? Or will you hang around with the Greys?"
The mothers around Megna snickered, their deeply sunken eyes glistening.
"I’m—"Alphi started.
"Oh, Megna! Look." One of the mothers pointed a webbed finger at a fat five-year-old who swam through the arches, his scales like graphite.
"Don’t," Alphi sputtered, but Megna swam up to the dark-skinned child. Alphi hopped over some spiky coral and stared at Calt, her golden hair billowing behind her.
"Hello," Megna said.
"Megna, just leave him alone—"
But Megna stared at the boy. The difference in their skin, hers, white, and his, grey, became even more noticeable. "You can’t swim near us Pures. Don’t you know?"
"S—Sorry. I—I didn’t see you." Calt looked down. Alphi shook her head. Don’t speak.
"So you’re blind too," Megna said.
The mothers tittered. Just like the rest of the Alphas, they rose many feet off the sea floor. Hair cascaded down their backs, billowing behind them through the currents.
Calt turned helplessly to Alphi. "W-will we play in the trench today? My mother wants you to come over."
No. No.
But Alphi smiled, trying to swallow the fear that crept inside her. Calt didn’t know what his words meant…. "Sure." She didn’t dare look at Megna.
"Are you joking, Alphi?" Megna yelled.
"He’s five years old—"
"We are Pures. We don’t live in some dirty trench, like him and his dark parents."
"Yea," Calt said, "but Alphi loves coming to my house."


  1. You've certainly introduced us to a colourful and creative world with a well-formed social structure. I particularly liked finding Alphi lying on the coral bed half a mile down. It gave a good sense of place.

    I wonder if you might have given us too much information to digest all at once. You could possibly forget about the Malcorianism meeting (because I have no clue what that is going to be about and you won't get back there until after Alphi deals with Megna). Much the same with the Pinoe. It isn't in the immediate action so you could describe it later.

    I like the interaction with Megna. Here you introduce the racial tension between the Pures and the Greys, and Alphi is forced to show her position.

    I'm a bit confused about whether the Alphas are a type of mer-person, or another social group like the Pures. Mainly because you say all of the Alphas swam to the Pinoe, and yet Alphi, Megna and all the mothers remained.

    I'd have like to know also why Alphi didn't race off like the rest of them.

    There is a solid premise here, but I'd recommend you really think about what we need to know at the outset to understand their world.

    I hope this helps, and best of luck!

  2. Ooops,
    I made a comment but forgot to prove i wasn't a robot (or couldn't prove it) so here is a quick redo...

    I understand quickly that the setting is a very colorful underwater paradise, so I got overwhelmed by colors real fast. Maybe take out a few colors and add description of the feel of the coral or the sound of the legs attached together to break it up a bit. The class/race conflict is very clear and looks large for what is to come, so good job on that. I also was a bit confused. BY the alpha and alphi mentions in the beginning.
    Thanks for sharing

  3. I love the description here =). The encounter between Alphi and the mothers sets us up for possible problems later on and I like how she handles that encounter.

    One thing: I'd say "full height" instead of "tall height".

    Over all, though, I like how you've started this. It's well written and you've got a good knack for descriptions. Well done!

  4. Hi, and thanks for entering. Sorry it’s been a while – with a number of gig’s my band had to prepare for and no readily available internet I haven’t had a chance. It’s no excuse, but I’m still sorry. :)

    I love the imagery you’ve constructed here. It’s fascinating and rich – nice work.

    I found it a little awkward to have Alphi McClure lay instead of lay Alphi McClure. Also, should it be ‘the sun’s radiation HAD wiped it out’ ?

    I’m having a real hard time imagining this: "Malcorianism meeting!" one of the Alphas said. He tightened the thin membrane that attached his legs. They clamped together and he swam off, pumping his newly formed fin. If you want some mystery that’s fine; I’m just really confused. The next paragraph is the same. I didn’t realise McClure was an Alphi too – I thought alphis were little fish. I’d try and set up earlier that they are the same things so that it isn’t jarring when the connection comes.

    I wish I could offer more constructive advice but I’m too confused by the following paragraphs. One thing I can say is you are extremely skilled at showing instead of telling. Every sentence you have serves to build your world even more and I’m thoroughly intrigued by it. I’d say just try and pare some of the details back, and also give us a reason to empathise with your character so that we’re gagging to keep reading. Good job!

  5. This is my third attempt at posting this comment. I'm mad at this program, but it's likely operator error.
    Lucky for me there are no grammar correction for me to remember. My only advice is to ease up on the descriptions. They're really good...by themselves. The problem is you're world building at the same time and it's a bit much for readers to take it all at once.
    This is a very intriguing world you're building and I'd yank this book right off the shelf and read it!
    - Lisa