Sunday, November 15, 2015

1st 5 Pages November Workshop - Makin Rev 2

Name: Devyn B. Makin
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Title: LOAD 9


All seventeen-year-old Jake wanted was to get away from his over bearing dad. And his wish was answered with an invitation to spend the summer in Ireland, with his estranged grandfather—which Jake accepted without his dad’s approval.

At the emerald isle Jake discovers the truth about his Dorian family past—they are the original founders of the 13th century Templar Guards, but that is not the dangerous part. Templar Guards are born with a power to wield light called the Gift to fight Vapors—light devouring abominations.

But before Jake can see his dad again to ask questions, he’s attacked by Vapors and triggers his Gift. After barely surviving the attack, Jake's dad goes missing. And the Paladin Council, who controls the Templars, may have something to do with it.

Desperate, Jake enrolls into the Paladin Academy in New York. Where he masters his Gift and uncovers that his dad may not be an innocent victim.

And there is an army of Vapors rising and a underground movement within the Paladin council to over throw the present Elders. And Jake must choose a side; protect his dad and family name, join the underground movement, or side with the Paladin Council.

All choices will lead Jake to losing something he loves, but a choice must be made.

1st Five Pages

Routine is what predators look for in their prey. Jake could already hear his dad lecturing him for choosing to run the same route two days in a row—taking him outside of their gated neighborhood. His dad’s lectures were constant, looping in his mind, but now they were just a nagging reminders, of every moment of every day of everything Jake was doing wrong.

He 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 his life in decades—because only bad things linger around every corner of the big, bad, monster called life.

He stopped running to catch his breath. His broad chest heaving as he leaned against a street lamp flickering on. The small orb of light casted down an unnatural, orange glow, highlighting Jake’s sharp features.

He took out the half crumbled envelope from his sweatshirt pocket, picturing the bicycle messenger that delivered the letter.
Jake had noticed her even before she was on the same side of the street of his high school. She was riding fast, blowing past teens yelling at her to slow down. She didn't even flinch to apologize. Her delicate chin tucked in her chest, eyes narrowed, darting straight towards him.

Jake froze, taking in her bright blue outfit that looked like a speed skaters racing suit. Strands of blonde trestles, snuck out from both sides of her hoodie. In seconds, she skidded to a stop, her nose inches from Jake’s chest. She glanced up, locking her gaze into his. Her wide blue eyes were like witnessing the vastness of clear, blue, skies after a storm. She smirked, making Jake suck in a startled breath.

“Dorian?” She had asked. He remembered nodding. His voice lost in the sudden shock of the very closeup view of her skin tight leotard. It hugged curves that seemed too curvy for her age. Her bright smile and face couldn’t be older than sixteen. Even in memory Jake felt his cheeks burn red.
He had cleared his throat to speak, when the girl shoved an envelope in his hands and sped off—disappearing even faster than she had appeared.

The lamppost gave out a sudden electric pop, bringing Jake’s attention back to the crumpled letter in his hands. He snapped it open with a single flick of his wrist. He read the note for the hundredth time.

Hey Kid,
It’s time for us to meet and for you to learn what it means to be a Dorian. Don't show this letter to your dad. I would hate for the trouble to start without me.

It took only a second for Jake to decide to do exactly what the letter said, but having no routine, meant no routine even for his dad. When he had looked up from the shock of the letter and messenger, his dad’s car was sitting right where the girl had just left. No routines. Jake gave out a sigh. He was used to his dad just popping up during the day—but he just had wished it wasn't that day.

As soon as he had gotten into the car, his dad asked, “Who was that?”

“I don’t know.” Jake said, reminding himself it wasn’t a lie. He really didn’t know. Though he did wonder the same thing. No girls at his school looked like that.

“I’d like see the letter,” Jake’s dad said.
Jake slid in his seat as close to the car door, staring at his dad’s still expression. He could never read what the hell he was thinking. How long was he watching me?

“No.” Jake had answered. His heart began to pound in his chest like it did in the car. Jake just couldn't do it anymore—to be the good son. The son left to care for the father that lost his wife too soon. She died and he was tired of living like they were going to die too. He should of lied and said the girl was a friend. His dad didn’t even have to see the letter to know who it was from—just two simple answers and he had guessed who sent the letter.

Jake stayed silent for the past seven days. Until this morning when his dad reminded him, “Jiu Jitsu starts today at twelve, remember to mow the lawn, and let’s not waste this summer vacation just swimming and running.”

Jake had poured himself a glass of orange juice and finally broke his silence. “Fine,” he answered.

“Good.” Jake’s dad said, then added.

“And...Artemis won’t be coming. So stop carrying that letter around like a lost puppy.”
Jake snapped the letter closed, breaking out in a flying run, passing the endless web of identical black doors, white shutters, and perfectly manicured grass. His anger rising again in boiling waves. His dad’s voice grated at him, rubbing his nerves raw. “He’s 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 marrow—it felt good. He wished he could just run forever, but home was inevitable.

As Jake approached his house he saw the curtains drawn tight as usual. His house was like living in a cave with working toilets. Jake stepped up to his doorstep and pulled off his hoodie. His dark overgrown hair spilled over his eyes. A look his dad called unbecoming..
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 he hated his grandfather so much?

Jake went to open the door, when he heard his dad yell. "Artemis, this isn't your choice!"
Jake’s dad’s words paralyzed every muscle in Jake’s body down to his breath. He said Artemis. Grandfather’s here? A burst of feverish chill swooped through Jake. 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, voice with an brogue 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. And your 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.


  1. Hi Everyone!

    I just wanted to say thank you to all the Mentors and fellow Nov. 1st page Writers! You have helped me become a better writer and inspired me to keep growing. I hope you enjoy my revise and if not please don't hesitate to give me the dirt! I had so much fun rewriting and revising! I know in the end I will mix and match to create the best 1st five pages out of all the revised critiques. And hopefully, one day, it will end up being my published five pages!! THANK YOU AGAIN & BIG WRITERLY HUG!


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  3. And again I'm sorry I just noticed all the parts that were italicized dissappered :( I hope it translates Okay. And! Some parts are purple! Why??? I have no idea...jeeesh sorry. Thanks again for reading :/

  4. Hey Devyn!

    Love the changes you’ve made!

    Since this is the last edit, all my comments are pretty nit-picky and minor. But here are a few, little suggestions—

    When you first mention Jake I would add his last name so that when you talk about the “Dorian family past” in the next paragraph, it comes together.

    When you bring up Templar Guards, could you write a short description of who they are, just so we’re grounded.

    The paragraph that starts with “desperate” is broken up into two sentences, however the second sentence is a fragment. I would either drop the period or change “where” to “there”.

    In the next paragraph I would drop both of the “and”s that begin both sentences.

    The last line reads a little flat. What about something like: “Either way, Jake will lose something he dearly loves. But a choice is inevitable.”

    First 5:
    I love how you added more about Jake’s features. It gives us a great visual of him—a runner’s body, his broad chest, the sharp lines of his face, etc.

    Okay, love the new beginning with the introduction of the girl. Great, just great!

    I still love the line about his father being bull-headed and talking in riddles. ☺

    Overall, for me this is the best draft yet! Everything is so much clearer. I am still a bit confused about the setting. You give us more info, which paints a really nice picture, but it doesn’t necessarily clear up my questions about where they live. Is it here, in the US, modern times? I’m assuming it is, but I’d give one more nugget just so the reader is certain.

    It has been so much fun to critique your work! Thanks for the opportunity, and best of luck with your writing!

  5. Devyn!

    Let me say, I love the additional detail about Jake, his father, the bike messenger...the environment they're in...their angst. I LOVE how you've ramped that up to give us cool details without going crazy with the "purple prose". :)

    Now I'm going to be the one who throws in the BIG, FAT, OMG...WHAT IF...

    When I read the mini flashback with the bike messenger and his dad picking him up from school, all I kept thinking was, "THIS should be the start of the story."

    (see? OMG)

    I was hooked more with that than Jake running and being frustrated with his dad. And the thing is? I've been hooked with your story since the start! But the build up was there with the bike messenger...dropping off the letter...his dad picking him up...his finding of the letter...going for the run...coming back to hear the fight was so strong I couldn't help but wonder if you couldn't rearrange stuff a bit?

    But that's just me.
    (and based on pages 6 to the end, it may not be appropriate).

    As far as your pitch, you've made some great changes from when we exchanged e-mails this weekend. But it feels a little "spoiler alert". I'm horrible with pitches because I struggle with what to keep hidden, and what to tease. And I feel like I've been given a lot of super cool teasers and you've definitely got me wondering more about the council and the magical powers, but I have to wonder: what's left in the book for me to discover? Or did I discover it all right here in the pitch/blurb?

    Thanks again for letting me read your work and connecting on twitter! I hope we can exchange more chapters as we update and polish our stories!! :)

  6. Devyn,

    So happy you were able to get that pitch word count down! It was so hard to write everything in only 200 words : )

    I think you’ve made some great edits and fantastic progress with your pitch!! I agree with Kelley that certain parts read like “spoiler alerts”. Right now, there are parts that feel to me more like information I would find in a synopsis. Maybe there are certain ways to hint/tease instead of saying it straight out to keep people intrigued! For example, in the fourth paragraph, if you reword it slightly into something like, “Jake enters the Paladin Academy to master his Gift and discover the truth about his family (or clear his father’s name, or…something else Jake wants to do haha). But instead of finding answers, his enrollment raises doubts of his father’s true intentions.” My example is bad but hopefully it gets across what I’m trying to explain haha!

    Also, I love love love the new pages!!!!! (and the new title!) I also like the mention of the mother in this version! Since I think she will be playing a bigger role later on?? ;) Are you going to be dropping hints about the mother before we meet her character? For example, is she mentioned in future dialogue? Or does Jake know anything about her? If not, even a sentence or two here in the beginning could help! If I were reading this story, I think I would want to know some vague/fuzzy details about Jake’s impression of his mother before she makes an appearance in Jake’s life. That way, if she’s completely different from what Jake is picturing/thinks is true, it would provide more of a twist for me.

    Hope to keep in touch/read more of this story after the workshop is over!!

  7. Hi Devyn,

    First, the pages. WOW!!! What a fabulous job! So many great details without being overly described. I can picture Jake so clearly now. I was so caught up in this story, I was sad to see the pages end! (One picky thing – a brogue is just a brogue, not a brogue accent. So, he said in a brogue or an Irish brogue.)

    The letter is so much more intriguing! I do wonder about what Kelley suggested, starting with the bicycle. It is such an interesting, mysterious action scene. If the girl isn’t important, I would cut some details about her, however, otherwise readers will expect a romance. If you do decide to do that, you could cut to him spying his dad’s car, and taking off, running home, and then including your great lines about predators and routine. The more I think about it, the more I like it! And then we could see Jake hiding, opening the strange letter, and his reaction, reading it under the orb of light you describe so well.

    Regarding the pitch, I will first offer up the disclaimer that I am not great at pitches! I do agree with others that it isn’t exciting enough. Tell us briefly about the templars and his powers.

    Maybe – As the armor of vapors threaten to attack, the Paladin council is threatened from within, including a secret faction bent on overthrowing the Elders. As Jake struggles to learn more, he uncovers a troubling secret about his father. Jake must chose a side – and all choices lead to Jake losing something he loves.

    Good luck with this thrilling story! It has been a pleasure to read each draft!

    1. Oh my goooodness!!! I am soo happy you think the new addition is interesting... You inspired me to bring in the messenger from your comment of the first line "predators...." (And yes, the girl is definitely one of the love interests he struggles with..) so THANK YOU for that spark!

      And I agree with everyone this may be the place to start the story... Tricky reorganization but totally doable! Keekeekee

      And OMG! Thank you for your thoughts on the pitch! If you are bad I am miserably pathetic! Your ideas help sooooo much thank you!! And pound me in the head Brogue! Lol! I'll get it right I swear!

      Thank you again for such a awesome workshop!

  8. Great edits, Devyn! The new plot point about the alluring bike messenger is a fantastic addition - like Kelley, I did wonder whether you could start with her arrival. It gets a little muddled whenever a protagonist is remembering multiple backstories in one scene, so that might streamline things a little. I love the letter, btw - so much personality in so few words!

    The pitch is very exciting. My advice would be to tease more (rather than spelling out each plot twist) and to try to inject a little more of Jake's voice into the pitch (a throw-away line or two about his reaction to these dramatic turns?) to really help your book stand out in the fantasy marketplace.

    Really wonderful workshop - thanks so much for letting me read your pages!

  9. Great edits, Devyn! The new plot point about the alluring bike messenger is a fantastic addition - like Kelley, I did wonder whether you could start with her arrival. It gets a little muddled whenever a protagonist is remembering multiple backstories in one scene, so that might streamline things a little. I love the letter, btw - so much personality in so few words!

    The pitch is very exciting. My advice would be to tease more (rather than spelling out each plot twist) and to try to inject a little more of Jake's voice into the pitch (a throw-away line or two about his reaction to these dramatic turns?) to really help your book stand out in the fantasy marketplace.

    Really wonderful workshop - thanks so much for letting me read your pages!

  10. Devyn, wow your pages have really transformed! My favorite part would be the letter from Artemis which shows so much about him in just a few sentences.

    For the beginning though, it's just my opinion but I think I preferred last week's better. I just think it really set the mood. But maybe that's only me.

    I seriously love that line from Jake's dad though: "Blood may be thicker than water, but you don’t have to let it stain your life." So meaningful!

    Your pitch is great and gives an overview of the story in 200 words. It also reveals a lot already, so I think maybe just keep to the really important stuff and tease the rest.

    It's been such a pleasure reading your pages and working with you!

    Sending you a big writerly hug right back- good luck on working with the rest of your story! :)

  11. Hi Devyn!

    This is a really fun, ambitious idea for a fantasy novel, and I’m intrigued by the idea of modern-day Templar Guards and a Paladin Council. There’s a lot of potential in intertwining the family drama of Jake’s difficult relationships with his father and grandfather with the more global, sweeping conflict of the Vapors and the underground movement within the council.

    Your pitch has good bones, but could be smoothed out a bit to leave out awkward phrases like “but that is not the dangerous part” in favor of a bit more information about the Templar Guards. In particular, what’s their relationship with the Paladin Council? If they’re so powerful, why do they allow themselves to be controlled? If the Guards are all over the world, with some sort of academy in New York, why does it take going to Ireland for Jake to discover his family’s involvement? Getting more background would help to establish the stakes, as would a bit more description of Jake’s father. In what way is he overbearing? My impression from the pages is that he’s more overprotective and paranoid than strict or even abusive. Like a couple other commenters, I think you can save the bits about the army of Vapors and underground Paladin movement, not just because they’re spoilers, but because they invite questions that you don’t have the space to answer here. I’d hinge the end of the pitch on Jake’s discovery that his dad may not be who he’s always seemed, and that other dangers lurk on the horizon, poised to force him into a choice about where his loyalties lie.

    Both in the pitch and the pages, you’ll need to pay special attention to proofreading, especially since speculative fiction can get confusing even more quickly than contemporary. A typo here and there isn’t a dealbreaker, but all of it adds up to a first impression. If your writing is difficult to read, that will stop a lot of agents before they have a chance to fall in love with your novel. You’ve got a number of sentence fragments, which can be dramatic when used very sparingly, but feel unintentional when they’re so frequent. For example, I ended up reading the sentence that starts “His paranoid absorption of prepping each minute detail” several times looking for the verb, which distracts from the story. You’ve also got some awkward sentence structures and word choices that seem a little careless, like “He was exhausted of drowning in his dad’s fears” and “Strands of blonde trestles” – obviously I know you mean “exhausted from” and “blond tresses,” but the odd phrasing has already stopped my reading.

    In the case of tense confusion, small errors can go beyond interrupting my flow to actually making it hard to figure out what’s going on, and in these pages you jump around between present, past, and past perfect. It seems that the story opens with Jake on a run, then flashes back to having Artemis’s message delivered a short time earlier, then forward again to rereading the letter, when his dad shows up. Why then does his dad ask “Who was that?” if he was nowhere near when the messenger girl found Jake? I also wasn’t sure how significant the girl was meant to be from her lingering description, and think it might streamline things if the sequence is simply told in chronological order. Similarly, it may seem nitpicky to point out that “Jake stayed silent for the past seven days” is ungrammatical, but I didn’t immediately realize that the story had jumped forward by a week. Inserting a section break might help with that as well. Since it’s the inciting incident, it would have been good to get an idea of who Artemis when the letter first arrived, especially since the name is most often used for women and isn’t immediately associated with Jake’s grandfather. Does Jake even recognize the name when he sees the letter? How does he feel when he first reads it? This will introduce us to both the character and the conflict in a more visceral way.

    Thanks for the opportunity to read these pages and pitch. Hope these notes help!