Sunday, November 8, 2015

1st 5 Pages November Workshop - Makin Rev 1

Name: Devyn B. Makin
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy

A storm was coming. The heavy, graying clouds were an unusual sight for California summers, but it was no match for what was brewing in Jake Dorian’s mind. He came to a sudden stop. His broad chest heaving as he stood under a street lamp—flickering on, forming a small orb of light, radiating its unnatural, orange glow. For the second day in a row, Jake chose to run the long route that circled around his cookie cutter neighborhood.

He glanced at his watch. A quarter after six. Ten miles just under forty minutes, a new record, but anything past thirty he knew his dad could calculate which route he took. Routine is what predators look for in their prey. He could already hear his dad lecturing him. The same lecture he’s heard since he was five. But now at seventeen, his dad’s warnings didn’t control him by fear, but reverberated as a constant nagging of what Jake was doing wrong.

Jake pulled out the half crumbled envelope stuffed in his sweatshirt pocket. Even after opening the letter for the hundredth time, his fingers still trembled just the same as the first time. He began reciting the few lines, his photographic memory kicking in, even before he managed to crinkle the letter open.

Hey Kid,
This year I'll bring you your gift in person. It’s time for us to meet. And tell your dad to breath.

IN. PERSON. These two simple words had set off countless, heated fights between Jake and his dad for the past week. Telling his dad to breath was an understatement.  “He won’t be coming.” His dad had said looking over Jake’s shoulder. Jake had snatched the letter away before his dad had a chance to pluck it out of his hands. Jake took a mental note of his grandfather’s cleverness, to have sent the letter the same way all the previous odd, relic-like-birthday gifts he had sent over the years—in a brown box with no return address and never posted from the same place. Jake knew in his gut if his dad knew it was a letter, he would have never seen it.

He snapped the letter closed, breaking out in a flying run, letter in fist. He flew passed rows of endless homes with identical black front doors, white shutters, and pointed roof tops—like his own personal world’s most boring carnival ride.

His dad’s voice kept rubbing his nerves raw. “He is not welcome in this house. Blood may be thicker than water, but you don’t have to let it stain your life.”

“So damn bullheaded. And why does he always have to talk in riddles!” Jake yelled. He picked up his speed. His exhausted muscles ached, burning down to his bones, which he welcomed. He wished he could just run forever, but home was inevitable.

Jake reached his front doorstep, pulling off his hoodie. His dark, overgrown hair spilled over his eyes in a jumbled mess, which his dad called unbecoming. Jake’s flat out refusal to get a haircut was his first taste of not stepping in-line with his dad. And it felt good. He survived that?

In that moment, he swore to himself that he was going to follow his dad like a damn shadow, until he tells him the truth. —Why do you hate grandfather so much? What does he do? What has he done? Where in the hell does he live?

Jake went to open the door when he heard his dad yell and he jerked to a stop. "Artemis, this isn't your choice!"

Grandfather’s here? A burst of a feverish chill swooped through Jake’s body. His pounding heart lurched into his throat and he froze, listening.

"How dare you have the audacity to barge in here and expect me to roll over and give you my son?” Jake’s dad said.

Bells went off in Jake’s head.

Take my son?

 He pressed his ear harder on the door making the hinges creak.

A heavy graveled voice drunk in an Irish accent spoke. "Look, it's just for a few months. Let’s just tell him the trip’s my birthday gift…Anyways, the kid's gotta’ know. You’re acting like I'm a stranger."

"You are a stranger.” Jake’s dad raised his voice. “You haven’t seen him since he could barely walk. And that kid hasn't even gone out of town with his school because he doesn't like being away from home.”

Jake felt his eyes roll into the back of his head, hearing about school trips. He remembered every single one; science camp Nickawagra sixth grade, Honors Washington D.C. trip eighth grade, Varsity Future Olympian swimmers retreat this year, little Billy’s sleepover kindergarten…Jake remembered them all. He didn’t go to a single one because he felt guilty leaving his dad home alone. So, he had told his dad he was scared and to this day, his dad happily accepted it. No question.

Jake’s dad spoke again.  “How do you think he's going to do, to hop on a plane, fly clear across the Atlantic… and what? Stay in a dilapidated castle with you?"

Jake gripped the doorknob tighter, knuckles popping. Castle? Dad grew up in a castle? Questions flooded Jake, jamming his heart to a stop.

"Whoa…you grew up there just fine and I've done some upgrades.” His grandfather gave out a low chuckle.

"That’s not the point! And you know what I mean…. None of this is any of your concern.”

“How’s this not my concern, Frederic?”

"Family matters are for people with family that matter. And that for us only includes a son and a father.”

"Look,” His Grandfather’s voice slowed like an idled engine. “I'm not here to start trouble. But just because you dropped your post, it doesn't mean he shouldn't be given the same chance you had. It's his birthright."

"I said no! Now leave, before he gets back.”

"You know…it’s really not your choice, Son. He's of age. And who knows...maybe he's even started visions of dream sequences. You started them at sixteen. But you probably don't know because you haven't asked the boy."

"Don't you lecture me…"

"Like it or not, it's going to happen. So why not show him…before it's too late."

Silence fell into the room. Jake thought he could hear his dad's heavy breathing, causing his own to follow suit in harmonious fashion. He pressed harder on the door, making the wood groan—like it was resisting the pressure to indent a permanent cameo of his profile.

 "Or maybe, the Paladin Council will drop him a line..."

"Don't you threaten me!” Jake’s dad yelled.


"I said no!"

Jake couldn’t stand hearing them argue anymore with their odd wordsWhat birthright? Was Paladin a city? And why are they concerned about how I sleep?

Who cares. All Jake wanted right now was one thing, to get away from his dad and Artemis was the answer. Jake was exhausted of drowning in his dad’s fears. His paranoid absorption of prepping each minute detail—from combing his hair from left to right, never walking the same route to school more than one day, and planning your life in decades—because only bad things linger around every corner of the big, bad, monster called life.

Jake was exhausted, trying to be the good son. The son left to care for the father that lost his wife too soon. She died and Jake was tired of living like they were going to die too.


  1. Hi Everyone!
    Oops I am so sorry my formatting came out so weird! I actually emailed to myself and checked but something's went wrong 😔

    I hope it doesn't make it too hard on the eyes to read.

    Also, I would love to note, after some very awesome recommendations, I think I have decided to change my TITLE. In order o set more of a mood. Love to know what you all think about either of the two choices. Thank you again for all your comments and I can't wait to read your revisions and comments! Thanks again.

  2. Hi Devyn!

    Ooooo new titles! I love brainstorming titles!! I personally like Load 9. I think I would probably pick up a book titled Load 9 over a book titled Kismet of Light if I saw both at a bookstore, but maybe I just really like titles with numbers!

    Hmm, but then again, Load 9 sounds more sci fi and Kismet of light sounds more fantasy to me....We can chat more on twitter later if you want! I'm not sure what the rest to the story is about but I'm sure reading your pitch next week will help!

    Wow! Jake is a really fast runner! I’m super impressed at his under 4 minute mile times! I could never break 8 in PE class haha! The one thing in that paragraph I was a little confused about is what you meant by how his dad could calculate any route past 30.

    I really like this revision! I think the conversation between Artemis and Jake's father was so much easier to follow! Even when you were dropping in clues like Paladin Council! I also think you did a great job at illustrating Jake’s relationship with his dad! I got a much better sense of Jake’s feelings towards his father compared to the first version where there were moments when I was left guessing!

    As for the opening, I would recommend maybe opting for a variation of “A storm was coming.” One rough idea: “The storm was no match for what was brewing in Jake Dorian’s mind.” But I’ll think about this more too :)


  3. Devyn - great job with this draft! The story is much clearer now, more streamlined and easier to follow, which makes it that much more fun to read.

    "A storm was coming" is a great, punchy start to the story, but it's a little bit of a cliche in fantasy novels, sadly. (Fun fact - the first book I ever wrote opened the exact same way!) Is there something else you could start with? Even if it's a description of the endlessly clear SoCal skies NOT matching with what was brewing in Jake Dorian's mind. Like "The California sky was as clear as ever, but inside Jake Dorian's mind, a storm was brewing" - something a little bit more unexpected.

    Be sure in this next pass to go through and proofread - make sure to correct any present tense creeping in, like "The same lecture he's heard" instead of "he'd heard."

    A few sentences are still giving me a little pause. Ex. "A heavy graveled voice drunk in an Irish accent spoke." It's just a little clunky - is he drunk? Or is that metaphorical? See if you can simplify throughout to make the meaning of each sentence as crystal clear as possible.

    Here's another section that confused me: From "anything past thirty he knew his dad could calculate which route he took" through the rest of the paragraph. I'm not sure what he means, exactly. I think it's tied to what he mentions later about his dad's paranoid and controlling tendencies. That last section was a gut-punch, btw! Really effective. I wonder if you could move part of it up here - spell out the fact that his father controls him down to what route he's allowed to take when he's out running. That's really strange and intriguing and helps drive it home that Jake is frustrated beyond the stereotypical rebellions of a normal teen.

    One thing I liked in the last draft was that it took a few lines of dialogue for Jake to realize it was his grandfather arguing with his dad. Could you work that back into the scene - just a few beats of confusion before Jake registers what's going on?

    Great edits here, Devyn. Can't wait to read your next pass!

    1. LOL! I will take it as a GREAT BIG SIGN of having the same exact beginning of your first book (since this is my first finished Novel myself!) as that I am on the right track to getting myself towards authorship dreams! Great minds think alike! keekeekee and thank you again for all your insightful comments!

  4. Hi Jenn,
    Thank you for your insightful comments. You really have a great eye to pick up the small nuances and mood of how to improve a story... I just had a question: the under 30 sentence. I think if I add minutes it should clarify the calculation factor.

    I am hoping that helps? Or shall I completely rework?

    Thank you again.


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  6. Hi Everyone,
    In the last two Critiques from the lovely Christy and Jenn there was some confusion in the sentence regarding the word thirty.. I think I was missing the word ' minutes'. So I decided to change it to the sentence below. I hope this helps clarify or shall I completely rework?:

    A new record, but anything past half an hour, he knew his dad could calculate which route he took.

    Thank you everyone for all your help! Have a great week!!

  7. Hey Devyn!

    I like your revisions! I have some minor suggestions:

    Title ideas: I like Load 9. That sounds pretty cool to me. The reason the other ones don’t totally speak to me is because I have no idea what “kismet of the parabian stone” or “kismet of light” is. I just looked up the word “kismet” and now I know it means “destiny” or “fate”. Maybe everyone knows that word and my vocab is limited??? But even “destiny of light” or “fate of the parabian stone” speaks more to me, simply because I understand a portion of what it’s saying. Then again, the word “kismet” is super cool (haha), so … I don’t know. Hopefully some of my scattered thoughts help you decide where you want to go with it! Titles are hard!! ☺

    In paragraph 2, when you refer to “predators” can you give us a little more here? What type of predators? Does HE even know? Why would his dad need to warn him? Have there been predator attacks before? Maybe a few more details so we get a sense of what type of world this is. I’m assuming it’s a future world/a more advanced world?? (--since Jake ran a 4 minute mile for ten miles which has never been done in the history of our world.) Wait, I just read the paragraph again. Are you saying that his father is the predator?

    The letter from Artemus: In this revision the letter is really chill and casual, with hints of humor in it, whereas before it had a more mysterious feel. Since this is fantasy do you want to keep it more mysterious? And if it always makes Jake’s hands shake while he reads it, I would think there’d also be some hint of danger there.

    Instead of “He won’t be coming” wouldn’t it be “You won’t be going”? Or is the dad talking to Artemus over the phone?

    I like the dialogue between father and grandfather a lot better this round. I think if you added even more hints into what’s going on, it would be clearer for the reader.

    The biggest suggestion I have with this revision is to world-build a little bit more in the beginning. I’m still a bit confused about time period and place. You talk about Washington D.C. and yet when you refer to the homes on his street all with black doors and pointed rooftops, I pictured a different type of land. It’s hard with sci-fi/fantasy because when a reader picks up a book in that genre, everything about reality is left behind and what you tell us becomes our new reality. So every description you give needs to be clear and on point. For example, if they are living in the now, maybe say something really clear, like “the middle-class subdivision my dad and I live in is around the corner from 7-11”. That way we know exactly what to picture. Does that make any sense? I know you’ll probably want to do most of your world building at the castle in Ireland, but anything to make this beginning backdrop clearer would be a nice touch!

    Overall, good job! I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. Also, I wanted to tell you that I LOVE your enthusiasm for your work, and how you are so willing and ready to make changes to make your work better! It’s inspiring, so thanks for that!

  8. Hey there! is what I've seen (which isn't a lot...that feels like a theme for me this time around...ha!)

    The revision about his running is great--much clearer. I said outloud, "Holy crap he's a fast runner!" But now I'm that because of who he is? I don't know if the first 5 pages is the place to put it, but if it IS a part of who he is (special abilities?) and it plays a part in the story down the line, then it might be worth putting that out there about how he's always been freakishly fast.

    Question: why did his grandfather choose to sign the letter with his name rather than "Grandpa" or "Grandfather"? It might be a bit confusing to the reader to make that connection. Same with Jake's dad calling him out...why does he choose his name over "Dad" or "Father"? Is it worth explaining? Maybe?

    You compare his father to a predator and then mention towards the end that he wants to get away from his father because of his constant paranoid state. I'd love to see this sprinkled in more to give us the feeling of his dad's paranoia. That would be GREAT tension to build into the story so that the dangled carrot of getting out of town with his grandfather makes the logical sense for the reader, too.

    MUCH better clarity and connection with the gifts so Jake doesn't know about the Irish heritage. I like that a lot. I also like the defiance of getting a haircut. SUCH A TEENAGER! ha!

    I am a sucker for dialogue and I still love the conversation between grandpa and dad. I still laughed at the "I made upgrades" line. ha!

    You've got lots of cool suggestions! I look forward to the next update! :)

  9. Hi Devyn,

    Wow – this is a great revision! It is much easier to follow, and the dialogue is much smoother. Terrific job!

    A couple of things – the first paragraph has quite a few adjectives. I’d try to trim those. I love descriptions, but they can interfere with the power of the narrative. And why did he come to a sudden stop? I thought he might have seen something or thought of something. Also – he is running quickly – is there a reason? If not, I’m not sure that you need to tell us all of that.

    I love that his Dad keeps such a tight rein on him – it makes me wonder why, which is a good thing! But I’m confused still about the routes. How can his dad calculate his route – especially in a cookie-cutter neighborhood, where I imagine that there would be many streets that he could turn down, loop around. This is a great line - Routine is what predators look for in their prey.

    Regarding the letter, you really build up to it – and so I expected it to be cryptic or mysterious or hinting of danger. Instead, it was pretty normal. Why was Jake’s hands shaking?

    I also fumbled with this line about his long hair - He survived that? What does that mean? Does his father usually punish him/hit him? Or is it that Jake is not rebellious, and this one act of defiance he survived? If you clarify what it is, and I suspect it’s the latter, it will give us more insight into Jake – which would be great.

    Also, I was a bit surprised he wasn't more curious about all of the strange things his grandfather said. I wanted to know if anything had started with Jake. I think he would at least think - so that's why... or will I soon.... or maybe he'd think my grandfather is crazy, maybe that's why dad is keeping him away from me. But he would think something. As it is, just plopped there, it feels a bit of an info dump to me.

    Lastly, there were still a few tense issues, so (and I’m sure you’re sick of hearing me say this!) read it aloud when you’re done revising – the ear catches more than the eye! And an Irish accent is a brogue. I am really looking forward to reading next week. Good luck!

  10. Hi, Devyn!

    Fantastic revision!!! This feels much more to me like I can get into Jake's skin and see through his eyes. I really like seeing his world during his run. I wouldn't mind a few more details there. I think you can draw it out even more. And I really like Kelley's idea of revealing additional examples of Jake's dad's paranoia earlier on. Like maybe Jake has to scale a stone wall because he forgot his keycard to get through the gate his father had installed when they moved in. Something that really shows us why Jake's getting so fed up with his father's paranoia.

    Speaking of details, I'd love more description of Jake's house. The only thing I really see is the door Jake's leaning against, which wouldn't it be kind of hard to hear through an extra thick front door? It would be kinda cool if Jake had to climb up to his bedroom window and climb in--maybe to avoid his father or because he forgot his key or whatever. Then he could hear voices and sneak out to see as well as hear what's going on. Or maybe you have a reason for keeping him outside. But if it were me and I were that curious about my grandfather, I'd at least try to peek through a living room window or something.

    As for titles, I like Load 9 better, but it really depends on what audience you're trying to appeal to. I'm not one to divide between 'girl books' and 'boy books.' I don't believe in all that. But at the same time, I do believe that readers judge books by their covers, and therefore their titles. Load 9 has a Maze Runner and 5th Wave feel to it to me--grittier, high stakes, lots of over-the-top action. Any title with the word 'kismet' in it feels like The Selection or Delirium to me. Which isn't to say that those books don't have high stakes and over-the-top action. Just that they might be tempered with a greater percentage of romance subplot. Again, nothing against that--you just have to know your audience and title the book so that your audience has a greater probability of recognizing it as a book they'll like. One additional note about titles: don't sweat it too much. When you get an agent, they may ask you to change it. Then when you get a publisher, they may ask you to change it again. Not that I'm speaking from experience. *cough*

    Overall, I think this revision is fabulous and that you are totally on the right track! Can't wait to read the next round!

  11. Devyn~

    Great job on this revision! Here are some of my thoughts:

    - That first paragraph is winner!!!! The details are beautifully written and establishes the mood immediately. I think you could tweak the first sentence to make it less cliche, but I really like how that whole paragraph read.
    - In the third line for the second paragraph, the revision you posted in the comments works better. The next line about routine- is that a direct quote from his dad? Maybe clarify this as well. I love how you slip Jake’s age later on though! Clever!
    - Noticed a few grammatical errors. Like Jenn said, be sure to proofread.
    - The line Jake’s dad says “How dare you…” he says “…give you my son?” in the end but then Jake thinks, “Take my son?” which is a little inconsistent with the actual statement. I think you could actually do away with this line since Jake seems to be only repeating what was said already.
    - I liked the details about Jake and his dad’s relationship and how you illustrated it! It made me understand why he felt the way he did in the last paragraph.
    - Speaking of, great last paragraph! I think if you could make the final line just a little more punchier, it would seriously hook whoever’s reading!

    As for my thoughts on the title change, I think Kismet of Light sounds great. It’s a very fantasy title and I personally just like the word ‘kismet’! ;)

    Hope this helped! Looking forward to reading your next revision :D