Sunday, November 19, 2017

1st 5 Pages November Workshop- White Rev 2

Name: T.K. White
Title: The Mirror Maker
Genre: YA High Fantasy

Aeris, the notorious Prince Charming, is a smooth-tongued con man with a penchant for causing trouble. He’s earned quite the reputation of woo’ing unsuspecting princesses whilst stealing away in the middle of the night, leaving behind trails of broken-hearts…and empty vaults.

One day, Lila, a fairy fighting her own demons, lands herself in none other than Prince Charming’s treasure-filled cave. With her life on the line, Lila scrambles to save herself, offering a deal she knows Charming won’t be able to resist: the con of a lifetime.

Meanwhile, Gabrielle has no idea she’s been served up on a platter for Prince Charming’s next con. The stench of death closes in on the fierce princess’s kingdom, leaving no room for distractions. When she learns about the existence of a mirror - one that might be the key to unlocking the mystery surrounding her kingdom’s demise - Gabrielle spurs into action, determined to find this mystical object.

Little does the princess know an evil queen is hunting for the same mirror, which she's convinced Prince Charming stole. But who really has the mirror? And once it’s found, will Lila, Aeris, and Gabrielle have the courage to face whatever might be lurking inside?


Aeris was in trouble. He cursed himself as he watched the princess stretch, waking from her deep slumber. He had given her a strong potion, one that should have made her sleep for hours.

A cool breeze brushed through the air, and little goosebumps peaked across Aeris’s arms. The window. Aeris hadn’t shut the window. A rookie mistake. No doubt the gust of air was what now roused the princess awake. Aeris gently closed the door on his view of the princess, retreating further into his current hiding spot.

Normally, after the princesses fell asleep, Aeris would grab any jewels or trinkets of value and high tail it out of there. But this Princess Gria just had so much. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, Aeris could see the shelves lining the walls of the room, which was easily the size of a peasant’s house. On the shelves gleamed iridescent pieces of jewelry. Over the past few weeks, Princess Gria had mentioned this room - her jewelry room - a beacon of pride, many times. It contained her rarest gems, fetching quite the price. Say, the cost of an entire village’s grain supply for a month.

Aeris had felt like if he didn’t grab as much as he could carry, it might be the difference between life and death. Trina was sick. Again. A relentless raspy cough that made Aeris’s insides curl each time he heard it. The healer had given a grim outcome: without the expensive medicine she needed, she might very well be dead within a month. Ysara had grown out of all her clothes and had nothing for the harsh winter months, soon approaching. She might freeze to death if she didn’t get appropriate outerwear. All the orphans in the realm of Neleque were far too skinny, their bones jutting out, their bellies swollen from hunger. The innocent faces had played through Aeris’s mind with each jewel he grabbed, and he had become lost in his determination to save every orphan he could. Now, he was stuck with a bag full of jewels and no way to escape.

“Aeris, my darling?” Aeris heard the princess’s voice through the closed door. It started off sweet enough, but when there was no reply, it turned sharp and sour like a tart berry. “Aeris, where are you?”

Flattening himself against the back wall of the room, Aeris frantically looked for a place to hide. The room was entirely closed, it’s stone walls a barricade. There was only one way out: the window, which lay directly next to the princess’s bed.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall…” Gria’s voice trailed off. She must have been sitting in front of her mirror, vain princess that she was. Her laughter pealed through the air. “I don’t need a mirror to tell me who is the fairest of them all.” Aeris held back a snort of disbelief.

“Esmerelda!” Aeris heard the beautiful princess call. Esmerelda was a dark-haired younger girl. From the immediate sound of sweeping skirts against the floor, he imagined she was right outside Princess Gria’s chamber waiting for the moment she might be summoned.

Esmerelda’s shy voice sounded. “Yes, m’lady?”

“Have you seen Aeris? Did he leave my quarters?”

“No m’lady, I haven’t seen him at all.”

“Why are all of my servants so useless?” Gria whined.

While the two women discussed his whereabouts, Aeris tried to imagine the distance to the window. If Esmerelda distracted her long enough, if her body was angled away from the jewelry room, maybe Aeris could stealthily find his way to the window and escape.

“Esmerelda,” Gria’s voice crackled through the air like angry lightning about to strike. “Where are my makeup brushes? My golden makeup brushes?”

“I-I don’t know Mistress. I haven’t seen them!” The serving girl’s voice faltered just enough to raise suspicion.

A chair scraped across the floor, and footsteps padded heavily. Aeris’s heart quickened its pace, and he hoped the footsteps weren't headed in his direction. “If you don’t tell me where my makeup brushes are, I’ll cut that shy tongue right out.”

Anytime Gria had been unkind to Esmerelda, Aeris had always made it a point to give the poor girl a smile or a wink so she knew there was someone on her side. Right then, he wished he could do just that. But instead, his only hope was that Gria would find the white rose he left behind. Long ago, Aeris had witnessed a servant come under blame for his thievery. Ever since then, he left a trademark white rose, so there was no question about who had struck. It had actually gained Aeris quite a bit of notoriety, and a nickname he didn’t entirely hate.

A long silence stretched out. Then, “What is this? Where did this rose come from?......But, impossible.....the thief!” A crumpling of paper followed Gria’s proclamation.

Well, she found the rose with the note attached. Now, there was no telling how quickly he would be found.

Crash! Bang! Clink! “M’lady, please, there’s no need to ruin your beautiful furniture.” Esmerelda pleaded with her mistress who screamed out in rage. A loud crack banged against the door to the jewelry room, spurring Aeris into action. He tried to find any crevice he could to sink into.

 “Check this entire room! NOW!” Gria roared, followed by a mess of sobs and angry mumbling about her irreplaceable jewels.

Light flooded into his temporary sanctuary and Esmerelda jumped to see Aeris crouched in the corner, bag full of the very stolen treasure Princess Gria searched for. She bit her lip, like she was faced with an insurmountable decision. A determined look spread across her face as she cleared her throat, “Princess!”

Aeris cringed, waiting for the inevitable.

“What?” Gria groaned from the other room.

“I think I just saw him, in your powder room!”

A distressed shuffling sounded and faded. Esmerelda stepped aside and held open the door, motioning her hand for Aeris to move. Taking the invitation, Aeris darted out of the room, treasure bag clanging behind him.

“I don’t see him anywhere!” The princess’s voice rang out, spiked with panic.

“What if he’s on the ledge, outside the window?” Esmerelda replied. She whispered to Aeris, “Go, this is the only chance you have!”

Aeris swung one leg over the windowsill, he looked back to Esmerelda’s young face. “Why are you helping me?”

“You deserve it....and so does she.” Her voice darkened as Esmerelda emphasized the ‘she.’ With that, Aeris was out the window, and on the ledge.

As he leaped from the sill down to the shadowy gardens below, Gria shrieked out a note of fury. A Promise. “You’ll pay for this Prince Charming! You will pay!”


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What immediately jumps out at me from these five pages is the tone; you have absolutely nailed the mix of lightheartedness and seriousness that I'm guessing will be prominent in this story - so great work there. I also love the notion of flipping the whole thieving ladies man trope on its head by making the man in question a prince; these charmers are usually peasants who finagle their way into the bedchambers of society's elite, leaving wives happy and husbands furious.

    That said, there are a few elements in this story that toe the line between new spin on classic concept and cliche. We have a man, known as Prince Charming, hiding in the closet as the unsuspecting victim wakes up to find out she has been robbed. And then when he's discovered by the help, his panache allows him to gain an ally to aid in his escape. We've seen this scene before; perhaps not in a palace, but there's nothing particularly new here. Perhaps there's a way to open this scene that increases the tension even more; maybe Aeris is dangling from a ledge 100 feet in the air, hoping the princess doesn't look down. Or perhaps he's being chased through the castle halls by an ever-growing group of angry residents, only to escape at the last minute.

    There's a lot of fun to be had in this scene, and I encourage you to have even more. We can learn a lot about Aeris in how he reacts to his circumstances; does he do it all with a smile and a wink, knowing that he'll for sure be getting out of this? Or is he sweating and nervous, worried that this time he finally bit off more than he could chew?

    This is a solids start - I just want more!


  3. Hi TK,
    Loved reading your pitch to see where the story is heading. I can see what Gabrielle wants, and Lila is trying to escape, but what was less clear was what Aeris actually wants long term-- from the pitch it sounds like he just wants a con and treasure, but in the pages, we saw he was actually more like Robin Hood, using the treasure to buy things. What could cause him to threaten Lila's life if he's more interested in philanthropy? And why is he desperate to steal so much if he has a treasure room already full? That said, I'm intrigued by the cast you've created and the potential they have for a fun adventure together.
    The pages captured his conniving and rogue spirit. My favorite line was Esmerelda's, "“You deserve it....and so does she.” " HA! Loved that.
    Glad to have participated with you this month. Best wishes as you continue to revise!

  4. Hi T.K.!

    Great pitch! It's a really intriguing idea and now I get a really good sense of how you've turned the Prince Charming narrative on its head. But I think I'm having a hard time connecting the man from the pitch--the con man/sort of bad guy, with the man in your pages--the one who is stealing for really noble reasons. Maybe if you added the orphan angle to your pitch?

    It's been wonderful seeing these pages evolve. I love the lighthearted fantasy voice in it and the interactions between the characters are so much more alive. Good luck with this book, I hope to see the rest someday! :)

  5. Hi TK!

    It has been so much fun reading your pages and seeing how they've evolved over the last few weeks!

    I continue to be intrigued by Aeris and his mission. I agree with Sue and Michelle here - regarding the pitch - make it clear that Aeris isn't just a greedy, stealing for stealing's sake con artist. Also - are Trina and Ysara close to Aeris? Or are they orphans from the realm of Neleque? It felt like, at least Trina, might be someone close to him, but if she's an orphan, I think it would help clarify if you started out with that line, as opposed to it being 3/4 of the way through the paragraph.

    Also - the pitch for your story is a bit like a business letter and should be as streamlined and concise as you can make it. Nix the word "whilst" and the ellipses. As an exercise, try to create an elevator pitch - a line or two that gets to the heart of your story. ('con of a lifetime' jumped out at me!) Your current pitch is short but see if you can make it even shorter and punchier. tbh, I hate creating elevator pitches, but it can help you cut out the extraneous.

    This sounds like a fun story! Love the revisions so far. Good luck with it!

  6. Hi TK,

    This was a fun read! The beginning is so much smoother now. I really like the changes you’ve made, and feel much more anchored in the scene with the details you’ve chosen to highlight. Nicely done!

    It did seem like as soon as Gria saw the white rose, she would run right to the jewelry room to make sure nothing had been taken, instead of sending Esmerelda to do it. And one line toward the end pulled me out of the story: “like she was faced with an insurmountable decision." It felt a bit distant--Aeris probably wouldn't be thinking something like this in such a tense moment.

    As for the pitch, I had similar thoughts as the others—it would help to play up Aeris’s altruistic motives there. Also, what exactly is “the stench of death” closing in on Gabrielle’s kingdom—a disease? It wasn’t clear how the mirror is related to Lila’s story thread…does this have something to do with her “con of a lifetime”?

    It’s been a pleasure to watch these pages develop, and I wish you the best of luck with this story!

  7. Good work. Definitely see that you're considering comments and trying to hone and tighten this piece. Pitch-wise, it feels a little dense and complicated. As a reader, I'd appreciate a hint at a deeper, more powerful motive for MC and broader strokes over the tiers of plot. Remember that a pitch is not a summary. Your #1 (and #2 and #3) goal is to get the agent or editor to ask to see the actual ms. So, clarity, brightness of writing, tone and emotional connection are far more critical than drilling down on multiple plot layers. Choose every work carefully and make that pitch/hook shine (also, wooing does not require an apostrophe). W/r/t revision of first pages, it's getting tighter. I still get thrown out of the story occasionally by word choice/wordiness, such as 'little goosebumps' - goosebumps are little by definition and the word little somehow makes your MC feel little, which he is not; 'rookie mistake' - this phrase feels too modern and is confusing w/out context since Aeris is no rookie. That said, MUCH better job orienting reader physically in the scene and not overworking the Esmerelda link. Pace feels much stronger too - more active. Keep up the great work and good luck!

  8. Hi TK!
    Your pitch is engrossing and it's interesting to see where the plot goes with Aeris. Since he is the central character, it would be nice if the action described in the pitch was focused a bit more on him. This could be a good opportunity to weave in some aspects of his personality, since the pitch is mainly plot-focused currently.
    Your draft has probably transformed the most and it's been really awesome to see it come together so well. I love when Aeris's voice shines through (ie "Say, an entire village's grain supply"), and I'd look for even more opportunities to make that happen.
    To heighten the tension when Aeris is at risk of being caught, maybe he can imagine what might happen to him if he is captured? That would help raise the stakes. And it would be a good chance to express his personality, seeing his imagination and fears at play.
    Really great work, good luck with everything!

  9. Hi T.K. I found your pitch quite intriguing. The story sounds like it will eventually have some serious twists and turns. It definitely gave me deeper insight into the story as a whole. Saying that, I recall from your last revision you stating that Aeris is the main character. If so, I'd love to see the pitch focus on him. Ideally, a pitch should be about the MC, conflict/stakes, and goal of the story. Reorganizing and eliminating direct usage of other names could tighten and refocus it.

    For the piece itself, I find Aeris' voice wonderful and the tone threaded throughout. Bravo. It's very captivating. He's more personable, more easy to relate to and understand. Slight note: (paragraph 4) I feel it would be more effective if mention of the orphans came first, like a set up of the specific names. Your description of the princess has come a long way from telling to showing. Nice! I really enjoyed the way you used Esmerelda, too. This story has so much potential. Best of luck with it!