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DOGGONE VOICE: CROW’S REST (WIP)

Friday, 29 June 2012  |  Posted by Brenda
 

Title: CROW’S REST (WIP)
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Mom woke me as we hit the outskirts of Crow’s Rest. “Brace yourself, Avery Girl.” It’s what she’d said the first time we’d come to visit Uncle Tam, and every time since, as we got close to Crow’s Rest and the Castle. Anticipation and dread surged through me as I sat up.
The June air streamed in through the open window, coating my tongue with heat and iron-rich dust. Houses flashed by: a few McMansions (probably foreclosed on before they’d even been built out) along with the farmhouses from the 1840s on. Buzzing insects circled the weeds, already drying and brittle among the oaks.
As we took that last curve on the approach, tree branches arched over the road, blocking our view until there it stood—a castle, a brick anomaly glowing red in the afternoon light.  Looming over the Gold-Rush-era town from the top of a hill, making my shutter finger itch. The usual mass of turkey vultures and ravens soared above it, sinisterizing the turret seven more.
Wilson Castle wasn’t really a castle, of course, not here in the foothills above Sacramento. The fanciful hulk had originally been built as a reform school for boys. Bad boys had come and gone through the Wilson School of Industry since it opened in the 1890s, up until they moved next door to a more secure facility in the 1960sand the landmark was gutted.
“The Castle’s so solidly out of place,” I said to my mom, “but kind of elemental–like it grew herewith the oaks.”

Filed: Misc, Workshops

4 Comments
  • Leigh Ann says:

    Really nice writing here!

    This voice feels a bit more adult to me, probably because of the concentration on describing the setting so very much, and the vocabulary she uses. I wonder if a teenager would use phrases like “sinisterizing the turret” and “fanciful hulk.”

    If this really is representative of the voice of your MC, I might suggest thinking about a move to a more narrator-based style; third person distant. It would allow you to use this vocabulary and voice without distancing us from the MC’s feelings quite so much. Right now, there seems to be some discord there.

    A warning: be deliberate with your use of parentheticals as you move through the WiP. Make sure that the character is using them consistently – for the same reason, for example, maybe when she’s observing a detail about setting, or when she’s snarking about something. Otherwise, your parenthetical use will not be “voice” but instead just be “sloppy writing.” 😀

    Beautiful work! Keep it up!

  • Marieke says:

    There is a wonderful sense of setting here. That’s definitely the first thing that jumps out for me. I love the lush descriptions and the vivid image you create.

    I do agree the voice feels off for a teenager. I mean, unless she’s studied for her SAT just before that, some of the word choices are odd and I think that creates a distance to the reader.

    More importantly, because you’re focusing on the setting and not on the character, it’s hard to get a good understanding of Avery. I don’t think you should let go of this place completely, but especially the first pages I’d love to see you focus more on Avery and what changes for her. Once you have that down, the setting will add a great sense of richness to this story!

    Very well done 😀

  • callmebecks says:

    There’s some definite skill in the descriptions and the building of setting. However, I don’t feel a strong hook or connection with the MC. Since it’s first person, her voice and personality need to come across through stronger from beat one, in my opinion.

    IN-LINE CRITS
    Mom woke me as we hit the outskirts of Crow’s Rest. “Brace yourself, Avery Girl.” It’s what she’d said the first time we’d come to visit Uncle Tam, and every time since, as we got close to Crow’s Rest and the Castle. (Personally, I don’t think you need anything after “every time since.” We already know about Crow’s Rest, and we find out about the Castle soon enough.) Anticipation and dread surged through me as I sat up.

    The June air streamed in through the open window, coating my tongue with heat and iron-rich dust. (Great line.) Houses flashed by: a few McMansions (probably foreclosed on before they’d even been built out) along with the farmhouses from the 1840s on. Buzzing insects circled the weeds, already drying and brittle among the oaks.

    As we took that last curve on the approach, tree branches arched over the road, blocking our view until there it stood—a castle, a brick anomaly glowing red in the afternoon light. Looming over the Gold-Rush-era town from the top of a hill, making my shutter finger itch. (Nice detail about her that you’ve snuck in there.) The usual mass of turkey vultures and ravens soared above it, sinisterizing the turret seven more.

    Wilson Castle wasn’t really a castle, of course, not here in the foothills above Sacramento. The fanciful hulk had originally been built as a reform school for boys. Bad boys had come and gone through the Wilson School of Industry since it opened in the 1890s, up until they moved next door to a more secure facility in the 1960sand the landmark was gutted.

    “The Castle’s so solidly out of place,” I said to my mom, “but kind of elemental–like it grew herewith the oaks.” (I need to know more about Avery in order for this bit of dialogue to not pull me out of the story. It doesn’t sound modern or young enough. You can use this as a character aspect – maybe Avery prides herself on a wide vocabulary and making these sorts of lyrical descriptions/observations. It would fit with an artistic-type photographer. However, at this point, I don’t know enough about her to draw that conclusion, so it’s just a little jarring instead.)

  • Brenda Drake says:

    There is some beautiful writing and descriptions here. The voice is feeling more adult than young adult to me. Try and use verbs a teen would use. What would a teen notice?

    I like the itchy shutter finger. Maybe have her think about the cool pics she could take out here, or how secluded it feels. That she won’t be near other teens or a mall. Of course all this has to fit your story. But you get what I mean, bring out the feelings a teen would have about the place.

    I hope this helps.

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