Monday, January 21, 2013

Bouncer Post #53

Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 70,000


Fourteen-year-old horse-crazy Brook Steward hides in her father’s laboratory and sees him disappear through a rock wall. She follows him to the parallel world of Tirasvara.

Brook finds her dad’s secret life guarding a cultural melting pot of inhabitants from a dangerous madman intent on stealing five Elemental Fire talismans. Together, the talismans can be used to rewrite the gateway rules. Each theft sends ripples of energy to other worlds resulting in catastrophic weather, including a freak blizzard that killed Brook’s mother.

Brook must overcome her grief, join forces with the legendary Ghost Horse and harness the power of one of the talismans to foil the thief. If she fails, her pathway home will be destroyed, leaving her world to suffer apocalyptic storms.

ELEMENTAL FIRE is a YA Fantasy, complete at 70,000 words. It functions as a standalone book, but is intended to be the first of a five book Elemental series similar to Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality with touches of The Last Airbender.

First 250:

I peered into the stone-walled room Dad used as his home laboratory. I’d never gone inside without Dad around, but I needed a tool to punch holes in my stirrup leathers. I got my first horse three months ago, and my inherited saddle was made for someone much bigger. Even when Vienna behaved, my skinny butt slid all over.

The steel workbenches were empty except for a clock nestled in a jumble of wires. Must be some physics experiment for the university. Dad hadn’t mentioned his latest project, but then his gadgets hadn’t topped our discussion list for several months.

I dug through drawers filled with soldering irons, resistors and meters. Nothing looked capable of poking holes through leather, so I made sure nothing looked out of place and returned to the garage side of the old apple shed. Buried under unfinished projects, I found a large nail and hammer. Wouldn’t be pretty, but it’d get the job done.

As I raised the hammer, the lab door opened. A thin man wearing a ridiculous Futurama tee rushed through. Dad’s head above robot Bender’s body. I would have laughed, but some days it was the perfect uniform.

“Dad? Where’d you come from? I was just in there.”

Brown eyes gawked through thick lenses. His mouth opened and closed. “Brook! Why were you in my shop? My equipment’s expensive.” He stabbed a finger in my face with each word. “Just. Stay. Out.”

Seriously? He appears in a locked room, and I’m the one in trouble?


  1. What an interesting concept! I think your query does a great job of laying out the stakes for Brook. You could make it more punchy (sorry, can't think of a better word!) if you included more of a hook in the first paragraph. Something like: Brook always wondered what her dad did in his secret laboratory. She never guessed he was guarding the world from a dangerous madman. (Yeah, that's not a great example...I'm sure you can do better than that! :) Anyway - you want something in that first paragraph that'll make the reader sit up and think, "Wow, that's different/intriguing/weird/funny! I need to read this ms right now."

    I think your first 250 is great. I've got a good feel for both Brook and her dad, and I love Brook's voice. Right away, I know Dad is up to something & I want to read on to find out what it is.

    And you can't go wrong with a girl who loves horses. :)

    Best of luck!

    Gail (#60)

  2. I like the idea and it sounds really interesting. I feel like your query could be much sharper. Try adding a bit more voice to it, maybe one that reflects Brooke? I love the concept and would love to read this whole story!

    Good luck!!

  3. I really enjoyed your first 250. You've done a great job at character-building for both Brook and her dad in this short snippet. Also, you have a good YA voice.

    I agree with the above posts about the query. I think you're close, and a little more connecting the dots and adding voice will get you there. You may think about taking out some of the details and enhancing the key points.

    Good luck! - Monica (#69)

  4. Wow - it's scary how similar the story line is to my first novel I wrote years ago that I regrettably put in a drawer. (it needed too be re-worked way too much.) My original outline had the five elements along with the dad creating a portal. That was my first draft though and I changed it afterwards. But, we must have some sort of mental link lol. We'll have to exchange notes!

    Anyway, on to your story! Your query explains the plot and gives the stakes, but I feel like it's lacking voice. It reads more like a quick plot summary, but I don't feel for the MC at all yet. If you can bring out the voice of your MC into your query, it will make it that much more powerful. One trick I tried is just to write as if my MC was writing the query, instead of me. I did the same thing with my synopsis. If you can do that, your query will be spot on.

    As for your 250, your voice is there! As stated above, if you can combine the voice of your 250 to your query, you'll def be able grab some attention. I love your descriptions too.

    Good work and good luck!!

    -Copernicus (post #43)

  5. I really liked the last line of your sample—great voice and an excellent question, to boot! However, I felt that you could have set it up a little better. If this is really the first time Brook is going into the lab by herself, I’d like to feel more of her emotions—curiosity, terror about getting caught, whatever it is that she’s feeling. If you really up the stakes of that scene, we’ll be more invested in Brook from the get-go.

    The query to me felt kind of dry—I’d love to see some more of the story’s voice in there. Also, I wasn’t sure why her being horse-crazy was so important that it needed to be mentioned in the first line. Will she be riding the Ghost Horse later? If the Ghost Horse is really important to the story, then I want to hear more about him and Brook’s relationship with him in the query.

    Best of luck!