Sunday, March 20, 2011

Show Me the Voice

Before I get started on the blogfest, I would like to announce that the great Natalie Whipple is hosting me on her blog today! She is a talented blogger with a whopping 1330 followers, so I'm honored she let me repost, "Let's Get Some Writer's Optomism." If you get the chance, check it out!

For this blogfest, I have until March 22 to craft the perfect first 250 words of my book and send the exerpt to Brenda Drake. Between now and then, people critique each other. You don't have to be a writer to tell me what you think; I'd be happy to hear from any of my wonderful readers.

I know, I know, I've posted the beginning of my manuscript before. (Thanks for all the advice, by the way.) I have to do it again because this time, the prize is a critique with agent Natalie Fischer. 

As usual, I promise to critique everyone who critiques me.

Name: Teralyn Rose Pilgrim
Title: Sacred Fire
Genre: historical fiction

The sun set over the river Tiber and turned the currents into flowing pink ribbons. Tuccia clutched the edge of her seat. Whenever their carriage passed over the Tiber, she knew Rome was close.

She squealed and jumped onto her pater’s lap. “We’re almost there!” she cried. This trip was a rare and anticipated treat. Their villa was half a day’s journey from the city, so her family only traveled to Rome to see the bustling festivals that turned the city into a glowing spectacle.

“Which festival are we going to?” Tuccia asked as she pulled on her pater’s toga.

“I told you, we aren’t going for a festival,” he reminded her.

“Then what are we going to do in the city?”

Tuccia’s mater sat close to her pater and watched him with a cold, emotionless face. He opened his mouth to answer, stopped, and glanced at her. Mater’s expression didn’t change, but she shook her head and mouthed the word “no.” He cleared his throat. “It’s a surprise,” he said.

He picked Tuccia up and sat her back down. She stared out the window and fidgeted in her seat.

They crossed the river and massive buildings rolled into view. The city was so large that it looked like it rested in the sky. Buildings hung in the air and almost leaned forward, on the verge of toppling over from their magnitude.

The carriage crossed through the city gates and descended into the crowded cobblestone streets. They were surrounded by rows of thick columns hefting up heavy, towering ceilings of marble. Tuccia felt small in a way that was breathtaking. 


  1. I so want to see that river with my own eyes!

    This is a good buildup of anticipation. The only thing that jumps out at me is the word "squealed" is spelled wrong.

  2. I really enjoy the combination of emotion here. The joy from the child and the trepidation for an unknown reason from the parents.

    One thing I noticed last time I read a version of this - it took me a few paragraphs to infer what mater and pater meant. This time it didn't, but that's because I'd realized it last time. I don't know if there's a way to work that in or not, but it did slow pace a bit.

    Great job and good luck ^_^

  3. What age group is this? I couldn't tell if it was YA and you just start with her younger (as I do in mine) or perhaps MG?

    I too liked the blend of anticipation and dread with this--sort of like when your parents said they were taking you for ice cream, but didn't mention that they're stopping for your vaccinations on the way! Maybe that was just my childhood . . .

    I thought the meaning of pater and mater were obvious from the context, but I wasn't sure at first who she was talking to when she said "tata"

    Good luck with the contest!

  4. You have an intriguing voice here. I love the descriptions you've given, it really helps to picture the story.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks for the advice... I'm still trying to decide how many Latin words to use, since it's for a mainstream audience and not only history buffs. Maybe it's too much to say "pater" and "tata" at once.

    This story is for adults (I just added that to the post); it's not YA or MG. The novel takes place over the course of 30 years.

    Thanks again! Keep it coming!

  6. I think this is a great beginning. Love how you've set the time perfectly and your description is beautiful. I'd definitely read on.

  7. I read this for another blogfest I believe, and I enjoyed it then too :) I like the mystery you are already creating; definitely makes me want to read on & find out what her parents are hiding.

  8. I love the image of the buildings almost toppling from their magnitude. :)

    Speaking of blogfests and prizes, you won one of the prizes from mine! Stop by to claim your prize.

  9. Yay! Thanks Alison!

    Everyone's compliments are super and make me feel warm and bubbly inside, but you can say mean things too. I think of it as tough love.

  10. I like this intro, although you said it's an adult novel, but you start with your MC as a child. Depending on how long she's a child, this could be problematic. I did the same thing with my novel, but ultimately decided to cut the child sequence (which was about 2 pages) completely, and now the story works much better.

    I do like the feeling that something really bad is about to happen, even though the child doesn't have a clue. It sets the reader up for what's coming next.

    My only word choice critique is "tata." Coming from a contemporary culture, I immediately thought of the "save the tatas" campaign, so was thinking of boobs instead of dad. lol. But that could just be me.

  11. I was drawn into the scene and time period right away, and I love the sense of foreboding contrasted with the girl's excitement.

    Some words I would consider revising are "glowing, religious spectacle." The word religious in there tripped me up, maybe because I'm not yet sure what time period this is - are we talking Roman Gods or Christianity? It also doesn't seem like a word that would enter into a young child's mind when thinking about festivals.

    I LOVE your description of the sun setting over the Tiber by the way.

    Overall, great beginning!

  12. I think first sentec puts right in the setting, but maybe you could mention it was Rome. I do agree that some words I didn't know, but if you just say a little blurb about what a pater is, you can probably use it the rest of the way. Going to Rome...EXCITING!

  13. Lovely imagery and emotion here. It's a slow start, but I feel that works for the genre and the tone you're going for here, so no criticism there. I love Roman history and so a good historical set in that period will always hook me, and this fits the bill! Good job!

  14. I love the descriptions and imagery here. It is a slower start, but I think that works better for historicals.

  15. I like the foreshadowing. It's well written, but a slow start. I think the slow start is OK, but you may have other opportunities to bring the story dramatically closer by using this as flashback. I have just one tiny comment--the words mater and pater. They are perfectly legitimate word choices, but there is something about them that doesn't set right on the ear, especially when they appear fairly close together.

  16. I remember this sentence from the "first line" blogfest.

    I'm glad you shared the first page so I can see what the ride was about :)

    Christi Corbett


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