Monday, January 14, 2013

Bouncer Post #5

Word Count: 81,000
Genre: Contemporary YA Fantasy


Maxine Protega isn’t a hero. She’s a fourteen year old girl destined to destroy magic and determined to survive.

When Max learns that she is the subject of a prophecy in which the future of magic hinges on a choice that she has to make, she panics. Joining forces with a guy she hates and her mildly annoying best friend, they enlist the help of a senile, milkshake-chugging coot with a bad lumbago and monkey on his back. Matters escalate when a mark, seared into her skin, chains her to the Abraxsus, magic’s creator, successfully ruining any chance she had of getting her life back. Hunted by old friends, assassins, and others unknown, Max comes to realize that some choices aren’t about doing what’s right or wrong; that there’s a grey area she must step into in order to survive. And it’s living in that grey area that she loses herself.

Drawing on the power of Abraxsus through the brand, Max nearly kills two warring armies and the innocent women and children trapped in the conflict. With the comfort of home in tatters, good friends dead, and demons both personal and real haunting her every step, Max questions the innocence of magic, wondering if the world would be better—safer—without it. What she doesn’t know, however, is how intricately woven magic and life truly are. In destroying magic, she will kill her enemies, but at the price of killing everyone she’s grown to love as well.

First 250:

Max grabbed a hold of Fabian’s face and squished his cheeks together as they wrestled on the plush blue rug they nicknamed ‘the cookie monster’. Fabian mimicked her actions, drawing her scrunched features as close as he could before sticking his tongue out and licking her cheek and nose.

“Eww,” Max said, rubbing the saliva off her face with the back of her hand. “No licking, Fabian.”

“But you taste like my sister,” he replied with a giggle.

Max stood and placed her hands delicately on her waist. She raised her chin and looked down her nose at her seven year old brother. Having seen the I’m-not-your-sister-I’m-a-princess act a hundred times before, Fabian groaned and fell back on the rug, flinging his arms out to either side as if he were about to start a snow angel.

“I am a limp noodle,” he professed, refusing to give in to his sister girly fantasy. “And one day, I will be spaghetti. You will try to twirl me around your spoon, but I will escape and smack you on the chin with my noodlie goodness.”

“You don’t eat spaghetti with a spoon booger breath. You eat it with chopsticks,”

Fabian sat up, abandoning his dreams of pasta-hood. “Do you think I’ll ever be as good a empath as Dad?” From his slouched shoulders and the tinge of sadness is his voice, Max knew he wasn’t expecting a positive answer.

Used to his abrupt change of subjects, she shed her queenly persona and sat down next to her brother. Even at seven, Fabian knew his Manipulating Ability wasn’t as strong as most. 


  1. I really wanted to love this. I'm a big fan of fantasy, and I think you have some interesting things going on in your query. I like the bit about Max questioning the innocence of magic and wondering if the world would be better --safer-- without it. But overall I was a little confused.

    I think you might have a little too much going on here. Is there any way you could simplify your query? Maybe think about cutting the last two sentences of the second paragraph, and cutting, "With the comfort of home in tatters, good friends dead, and demons both personal and real haunting her every step," from the third. This line is a little vague, and it kind of distracts from the awesome dilemma you present right after it.

    Hopefully this helps.

    Best of luck!

  2. It sounds like you have a great conflict in your book. And I really like your first 250. The relationship between Max and Fabian is sweet and you do a great job of smoothly inserting magic.

    I'd love to read more! I hope you get picked!

  3. I enjoyed the query--I mean there is a ton going on, but I thought you explained things nicely, and the world building is there but not confusing. I especially love the two closing lines in both paragraphs. I also love the pitch line--gives us so much insight into her character. She's not a hero, but she's determined to survive.

    Nicely done. :)

    Good luck!

  4. A story where the MC has to choose to save something or destroy it, and it's bad for the world either way is one of my favorite tropes. I love that there are no easy answers, and that the stakes are incredibly high. I can tell you have the right idea about structure of story and query, and that you've put a lot of work into making things very, very difficult for your MC. Awesome. :-)

    That being said, I can see where you could tighten things up a bit to make your submission stand out a little more. This is going to sound a little weird, but I think you give away too much and also don't say enough in your query. This is just my opinion, so definitely take it with a grain of salt, but I'm not a fan of opening lines in queries. To me it seems like they spill out all the important stuff and then back up to the beginning again in the next paragraph. Like a do-over but with more detail. I'd rather you incorporate the ideas from the opening line into the main body of the query. Also, the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs are a bit wordy, and it feels to me like that weakens the punch, like a hammer having to get through three pillows before delivering a blow. For example, the 1st sentence of the 2nd paragraph could be edited to: "When Maxine Protega learns that the future of magic hinges on a choice she has to make, she panics." I'd also cut the last line of that paragraph entirely, because, pretty as it is, it steals some of the thunder from the last line of the 3rd paragraph, which is where you want your thunder to be. Where I feel it lacks important detail is in regard to what she's fighting against. You mention demons and assassins in passing, but I don't have a strong sense of what she's fighting to survive. Who wants her and/or the magic and why? It doesn't have to be spelled out too thoroughly, but some idea of what she's fighting would help cement the story for me.

    As for your first 250, I love that you have a younger brother for your protagonist to fight for. Too often in stories I've read lately, the protagonist is going on such-and-such adventure in a vacuum. We have no idea what the "shire" she left was like or why she'd be fighting so hard to protect/rescue it. A younger sibling, especially a cute, underdog-ish one like Fabian, is a great way to instantly engage reader sympathy. However, this bit of scene doesn't really draw me in enough to be THE opening scene for your whole novel. It's a great scene, and I'd definitely keep it, but it's a fairly ordinary event that doesn't seem like it will have much relevance on the inciting incident that pushes Max into her quest. Consider starting in a more unusual setting or in the middle of something that more directly portends the inciting incident in some way. Avoid vague like the plague. ;-)

    Overall, I think you've got a great talent for generating epic conflict, which is waaaaay popular right now, so you are definitely heading in the right direction. Give your prose a little more pop, and I think you'll be on fire!