Send your work at at gaia.b.amman at gmail dot com with subject “200 words”. Today we have some serious sci-fi. This is the text as I received it:
The light glowing around Elizabeth's door had just turned black when she hopped out of bed and tapped the window to make the curtian display switch off. She searched for her star, the only one that overshone the city lights. The thought that her father might be looking after her from her star kept her mind off school. Soon, she could barely keep her eyes open and with a yawn said good night to the cat from downstair's flat.
She climbed up her bed and hugged her toys, the light of her star shining on her eyelids was enough to make her dream, but it wasn't like any other she ever had. There was orange grass between her toes. A weary sun warmed up her arms as she lifted her dress to avoid getting it wet in a silver river. Then a woman wearing a diamond dress walked past with her chin up.
"To the castle" said the woman as she went on board a golden ferry. Soon after, two men rushed to the edge of the river.
"She's gone!" said the first
"Get a boat! She couldn't have gone too far!"
"Let's hope we don't get there too late"
The bigger lesson to take home from this piece is something every writer struggles with, sooner or later. The story unfolds like a movie in the author's head, but the details shared with the readers are not enough to paint it clearly for them.
- Clarity! What is the order of events? For example, look at your first sentence. I am a bit confused as to what is happening, in which order. Is the light really around the door or is it sifting beneath it? If it’s actually around it, we might need a bit more description. Does she hop off the bed because of the light going black? Or is it at the same time?
- Is is a “curtain display” or a “Curtian display”? I am not sure if it’s a typo or a made up word to describe something specific in your world. If it’s a typo, be careful! If it’s not a typo you might want to italicize your word to let the reader know this is a “foreign” word. If it’s a typo, do you really want to call it a “curtain”? Because that’s so old fashioned.
- The light turned black: it seems sudden. Was it electric light?
- Keep in mind that while the story is very clear in your head, the reader only knows what you write. Where is she searching for her star? I’m guessing outside the window, but the description feels hazy.
- Again, I am confused. She just hopped out of bed and opened the curtains (I thought she was a night worker getting up), but now she is yawning and going to sleep. Why should she have the curtains closed during the day?
- Typo, again. From “the” downstair’s flat (I think it would sound better to rewrite as “from the flat across from hers)
- Why would the star make her dream? Maybe you meant it gave her enough tranquility to fall asleep and therefore dream? Or is it literally a dream-inducing star? Remember that it’s your world, and anything goes :)
- What toys is she hugging? How old is she?
- In her dream, she is walking on orange grass, but lifts her dress to keep it dry from a river. I know that it might seem enough to declare the presence of a river, but for a reader is a bit jarring. They imagine the orange grass and suddenly she is in a river.
- In the dream there are four characters. I don’t understand who is talking about whom, though, and where did they come from? Where they already there? Did they pop in? What’s a diamond dress?
- Remember that you want your readers to feel for your character, to be curious about her. What’s her issue? I understand her dad is far or dead (is he literally on the star?) but she seems to live a comfy life in her tech flat with a bed, toys, and waving at the neighbor’s cat. I am not sure if you are starting with a normal life followed by a prophetic dream (in which case the dad part is a bit confusing) or if she has a miserable life (in which case I would work on that part a bit more). Is she a slave? How old is she? Is she trapped? Hungry? Lonely? The yawn seems so reassuring, as if everything were A-okay. Is that what you want?
- Add more senses to your descriptions: smell, textures etc…See this post on descriptions
- I hope I am not going to butcher your work! I will assume that she is around sixteen, her dad disappeared, she managed to get a comfy life at the price of her freedom, and she has a prophetic dream that will start our quest
Okay, here is my edit, trying to put into practice the advice I gave you. Let’s see how it works out ^_^
The light sifting beneath Elizabeth's door turned black, signaling the beginning of curfew. Liz walked to the wall of her tiny, government-issued flat, and tapped it. A window appeared. Only one star outshone the city lights.
Another day that I survived in the grip of the system.
Shelter, safety, some food: it seemed like a great deal when she had been a ten-year-old orphan, but six years later she found herself questioning her choice. Her lifetime contract left her no option, but misery or treason.
She climbed on the harsh cot, and hugged the worn out rag she had been found in at ten. It was the only clue of a life she had no memory of. Exhausted, she drifted into sleep.
In her dream, Elizabeth found herself walking in a forest of blue balean trees. A weary sun warmed up her arms, and plush, orange grass stuck between her toes. The wind mussed her long, brown hair. She took in the silver river ahead and noticed a woman, knee-deep in the water, wearing a glittering, close fitting gown that left her back bare and pooled in the current around her.
“Excuse me?” Elizabeth asked, approaching her.
The woman did not turn. “To the castle,” she said. “Hopefully it’s not too late.”
Who am I to give you advice?
I am all for equality, diversity, and breaking the mould. I love feels, humor, and non cheesy romance. I am the author of the Italian Saga (#TIS)
*STATUS UPDATE: COVER REVEAL FOR BOOK 4 OF THE ITALIAN SAGA ON SEPTEMBER 1st, 2016!!!!!!*
The books (all #1 releases on Amazon!) are recommended for ages 13 and above, but most of my readers are adults. Available as audio, ebooks, and paperbacks.
Why do I do this?
Because it was incredibly difficult to learn everything I needed to make my books successful, and I believe that no one else can write your book. So, I try to pay it forward with free edits and posts on writing. It spreads the word about my own books and it helps other writers.
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