Send your work at at gaia.b.amman at gmail dot com with subject “200 words”. Today we have the beginning of a novel. This is the text as I received it:
They say it isn’t scheduled but it’s always on time. Like clockwork. The sirens blare and a voice recording plays telling everyone curfew is in effect. Everyone still reacts like it’s out of nowhere. Except me. There are notebooks full of data for every time it’s happened. They’re just jumbled in a box under my bed. I’m pretty sure I’d get looks like I’d gone insane if this was ever discovered. I don’t know why I do it anymore. It’s become habit. I can’t really remember a time before this. . . This existence.
It’s like the city’s a kind of maze and its denizens the rats. They’re all content to keep finding the cheese again and again as directed. I’m not. I want the exit.
I grudgingly admit there was such a time I was also content in following this. . . pack. I’ve lived most of my life just going with the flow. It’s easier that way. I could go about my daily routine and then run panicked for the nearest cover when the voice boomed just like everyone else. But that was before. Before I saw it.
When it all started we’d had no warning.
- I like where this is going! You are trying to create tension by feeding the reader bits of information. Ideally we learn about the main character in the process.
- The writing per se is great. No typos. It flows.
- My main criticism is show, don’t tell! Don’t tell me about the siren going off, show me. Don’t tell me the main character is different, show me. Don’t tell me...you got it. Here is a post explaining show don’t tell.
- Also, you want the reader to care about the main character. So far I don’t know much about them (age, sex, looks) and they don’t seem very empathic. They seem to only show contempt for everybody else, which might be the case, but don’t they love or miss someone? Don’t they feel lonely? Scared? What’s at stake? I would try to convey more about the way they feel.
- I added a made up word (Alars) to give it more of a dystopian feel.
- I also added things like the cot and the makeshift pillow to give the idea that they are not comfortable.
- Add dialogue and thoughts to make your narration a bit more dynamic.
Crouched in the dark with my notebook in my lap, I wait.
When the sirens blare, I scribble the next entry, under the red, flashing lights. Just like clockwork.
Rada jumps in her cot, calling my name, looking around the small room we share. “Kaila! Kaila! It’s curfew!”
“Yep, I’m here.”
She squints toward me, and I hurry to hide the notebook under my bed. She scowls and asks, “What the hell are you doing?”
I wish I could trust her. I wish I could trust anyone. “Nothing, I just…got scared.” I go back to lie on the bed, the rough blanket scratching at the cut on my shoulder, and she huffs, rolling on her side and covering her ears with the makeshift pillow.
Instead, I listen to the stampede of people caught off guard, looking for shelter in this rats maze of a city. As if the alarm were a surprise.
Well, I’m tired to be a rat. I’m gonna find the exit to this Alars forsaken place.
I am Gaia B Amman, the author of the Italian Saga (#TIS), a series taking place in gorgeous Italy, and talking about everything I was told is impolite to talk about ;)
I wrote, edited, designed, and published the books myself. Each one of them was a number one release on Amazon in its own category. It was not luck, but a ton of work, and I am happy to share what I learned with you ^_^
You can check out the books here (e-books, paperbacks, audio)
The books are recommended for ages 13 and above, but most of my readers are adults.