Saturday, June 25, 2011

Shelley Waters/ Victoria Marini First-Page Contest Submission

Here's my entry for Shelley's contest!

My book is a 107,000 YA fantasy entitled The Heiress of Rhiangar. Here goes!

It was, Miles concluded, an awkward position. He was trapped with his back against the north gate, every avenue of escape blocked by the advancing princess. She grinned, winked, and shook a coy finger at him.
"Not thinking of running again, are you?" Princess Brianette asked.
"Actually, I am," he replied, juggling several possibilities in his thoughts. Go left and trample the rare mourning lily his master so prized. Go right and have to fight his way through thorn-riddled shrubs. Going forward would require shoving the princess out of the way, which he did not dare do. Looks like it'll have to be right.
"You odd little flower boy." Little? She did realize, didn't she, that he had two years on top of her fourteen? Leave it to a princess to ignore such details concerning her lowly subjects. "You know, boy, you are the only one in the palace who acts this way towards me? It is not natural."
"Not natural? To want to keep my head on my shoulders, Highness?"
A bubble of frustrated laughter fluttered from her lips. "What, you think my father would have you beheaded, just because of one teensy kiss? You are an incomprehensible fool."
"Better a fool than a criminal, my lady, which is what I would be if someone saw us now." It was easy for her to say. She was the princess here, not him. Apprentice gardeners didn't enjoy the same degree of leniency in the courts of Chrysanthem. It was true Brianette had yet to actually be caught during one of her escapades, but Miles didn't intend to be anywhere nearby when it did happen. 

Here are the details of the contest:


  1. I'd definitely read more of this! You seem to have two strong characters with a clear and interesting relationship, shown nicely through their dialogue. I'm intrigued! Nice job :) And good luck!

  2. Nice - two strong characters off the bat!

  3. Nice character, the voice. I want to read more about him, not sure yet about the Princess. You might consider picking what he is going to call Brianette: princess, highness, my lady. "little" makes me think short, not young. Good luck

  4. I really like the dialogue, and your voice is wonderful. Great characters, also. I want to read more!

    I'm a little confused as to how, exactly, he got into the gardens. But you probably explain that later, so don't mind me.

    Also, why would the Princess be so angry at/annoyed with a lowly commoner?

    Regardless, I love your voice and both characters are very well drawn.


  5. Yeah, all those questions are answered just a few more paragraphs in. *Sigh* You know how it is...

  6. Interesting dilemma. Princess seems to be a predator and he's just trying to water the freakin flowers.
    Did have a few issues with the styles. Lots of "it", "did" and "was" + adverbs kind of deaden the prose for me. Think about more active verbs, remove adverbs and vague "it" references.
    Want to know what happens when/if they kiss.

  7. Great opening line. Love how you hook the reader's attention with this first scene. I would definitely read more.

    A few nitpicky things:

    "Actually, I am," he replied, juggling several possibilities in his thoughts. -> I would removed the dialog take and have it read:

    "Actually, I am." He jugged several possibilities in his mind.

    And having the princess grin, wink, AND shake her finger coyly was a bit much. Other than that, a great beginning!

  8. Certainly an interesting relationship you've got set up between these characters! I'm curious to read more. I can feel the tension and excitement here. Nice!

  9. This is a great start. I loved Miles' voice and that of the princess. I agree with the above comments, except the overuse of adverbs (I only noticed one). I'd suggest scraping the 'did' in did not dare do and make it 'dare not do' just to make the sentence tighter. I'm keen to find out why the princess has miles cornered. Is she a predator? haha that comment is so funny.

    I would like to know what era this is set in. I understand it's fantasy, so this rule may not apply but royal characters are typically well educated and speak with eloquent, old fashioned dialogue - especially if they are from medieval times etc. So this may be something to consider.

  10. I loved the banter between these two characters! You have a good ear for dialogue, and the language works really well. I loved the old-fashioned element to their language, too. I expected the dialogue to be more contemporary given the fantasy genre, so now I'm beginning to wonder in what kind of world this is set??? (Future, steampunk, etc.) But that probably all unfolds within the next few pages, I'm sure. I'd definitely read more. The conversation alone was enough to keep me hooked.

    Though it's a subtle change, I agree with Louisa's comment about changing "did not dare do" to "dare not do". It seems to flow better that way.

  11. Here's a strange problem I have with this, that might be a little better answered further on in the story (yes, I know). Is she pretty? Is he sixteen? Is he straight? Is he single? If the answer to all four questions is "yes", I don't know I believe he'd be running away. Most sixteen year old guys would risk beheading to make out in the garden with a pretty fourteen year old girl who also happens to be rich and likely the most desirable person in the school... er, kingdom.

    Then again, this could just be a silly problem to have, with concerns that are addressed in the NEXT 250 words. Otherwise, fun, playful writing. Cat-and-mouse is always engaging. - Tom H.

    Check out my first 250?

  12. I love the dialogue you have going on between the characters. I would definitely like to read more.

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