Today's post is an excerpt sent to me for public critique, an opening of Rosie Connolly's New Adult paranormal novel entitled SEER. New Adult is an interesting new category that falls in between Young Adult and Adult novels. The protagonist is older, roughly 18-25, and the books involve subjects pertinent to older characters and readers.
Rosie would love constructive feedback of any kind, so please chime in!
As a child, I dreamt of people’s deaths. Growing older, I tried to save the people I saw in my dreams. Now Death has come to collect its due. I’ve cheated Death so many times over the years by saving others that it refuses to let me out of its grasp.
The first dream I had scared me the most, of course. I was four. The night before the wedding rehearsal for my mother’s cousin Edgar will forever be the night that changed my life.
In my dream, the wedding took place in the most beautiful grove I had ever seen—or still have ever seen to this day, since I was four. It almost resembled something from a Dr. Seuss novel, the trees with their red bark and purple leaves, everything smooth as if it had been made of Play-Doh. The couple, a pair of doves, matched the scene with their sleek red bodies, ornamented with purple human hair. The crowd stood in the tiny grove, or further back amongst the trees. I stood up front, holding the bride-bird’s flowers.
The priest made his pronouncement, and the couple leaned forward to kiss. In the moment, a huge whoosh filled the air, making tiny me drop the flowers and cover my ears. The wind picks up, pushing the trees almost flat against the ground, bending like rubber at their bases. The couple seemed not to notice the chaos, however, still moving in slow motion toward one another for their kiss. The ground began to shrivel, and each person’s feet sunk, creating indentations in the earth. The edge of the woods began to fall away, and the crowd fell one by one off the land.
I am confused as to why her mother's cousin Edgar and his bride are doves. It sounds literal, here. It makes me wonder if the main character a bird, therefore. If the main character is human, maybe it could be more clear that the wedding of Edgar is not the wedding of the MC's dream. As it stands now, it sounds like it is.
The tense (past tense) is not consistent in this piece:
1. The wind picks up is in present tense; the verb should be picked.
2. …each person's feet sunk is also not in past tense; the verb should be sank.
Clarity of Sentences
1. The night before the wedding rehearsal for my mother's cousin Edgar is quite a mouthful that would be good to simplify. The phrase is too long by the time the reader reaches the verb.
2. …or still have ever seen to this day, since I was four is a bit awkward; "since I was four" seems unnecessary and confusing.
3. The crowd stood in the tiny grove, or further back amongst the trees seems contradictory. Which is it--in the grove or further back? Perhaps use "and"?
Wording and Little Things
1. A "Dr. Seuss novel"--I'm not aware that Dr. Seuss wrote novels; say "book" instead?
2. In the moment, a huge whoosh filled the air: say "that" moment rather than "the"?
3. Still is used twice in this short excerpt. Kinda close together.
I really enjoyed the description of the wedding; the words paint a vivid picture. I can see the trees, and having the scene be the smooth consistency of Play-Doh is a cool detail. It really sounds like a nightmare a four-year-old would have. It would be freaky enough for an adult--the edge of the woods falling away, the ground shriveling, and the people falling off into nothingness. Neat! Also, the opening is intriguing and sets up a conflict right away.
Can you add any other helpful comments to the above critique?
What's your favorite part of this excerpt? Your least favorite?
How often do you read or write paranormal novels--are they your "thing"?
Were you confused as to why the wedding involved BIRDS at Edgar's wedding, or was I the only one who thought the weddings were one and the same?
Deborah Halverson's book, WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES hits stores on July 5. Big virtual book launch party June 29-July 5 on DearEditor.com. Visit for daily giveaways (woo--manuscript critiques!), free downloads, excerpts from the book, and more!! Mark your calendars!
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