Thursday, July 12, 2012

Magic 8 Ball Meme

I've been tagged by Jaybird to participate in the Magic 8 Ball Meme.

In short, here are the rules:

1. Post the button and link to (following would be nice, but not required).

2.  Share an excerpt from your current WIP, perhaps something you're struggling with, are stuck on, or just can't "get right."
3.  Ask a question about your excerpt.  It can be something easy such as "What do you think?" or something more in-depth, such as "Can you suggest a better way to word such-and-such," or "How can I make the emotions in this scene more realistic?"
4.  Tag 8 people. 

I've been thinking about revising my MG fantasy adventure, KOA'S PASSAGE (it's my 2011 Nano). We all know how important the start of a manuscript is. We have to hook the reader (and agent!) and establish setting, conflict, a character to care about, and voice in such a short amount of time. So I've decided to post my first 500 words and ask you, my amazing blog readers, what do you think? I'm open to any suggestions on how I can shiny up this start as I embark on  getting this one ready to query.

Here's a quick blurb to give you an idea of what it's about: 
Death Marchers have taken his grandfather, and it’s all Koa’s fault. He must find Hina, goddess of the moon, and make her tell him the Marchers' deadly secret, because without it, his grandfather will be gone—this time, forever.

Here it is, the first 500 words of KOA'S PASSAGE:

I leaned over the edge of the canoe, dipping my hand in the sea, tempting the balance of life and death. A white trail of water followed my fingers as we glided along the surface of the Pacific. Mists of vapor rose to my face. I closed my eyes and stuck out my tongue, tasting the warm and salty sea air. It was as though I was ruler of the sea, master of all that stirred beneath. Follow my lead, my dragging hand demanded. Follow my path and I will lead you to victory!

“Make haste, young Koa,” Pueo’s grating bird voice interrupted my stolen moment. “Take caution on the sea. The rise and set of sun bring sharks aloft.”

Sharks fed closer to the surface of the ocean at sunrise and sunset. Hmmm. Perhaps that was why we were out here, on the ocean, at sunset—shark hunting. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if Pueo the owl thought I was an idiot that he had to explain such childish things to me over and over, or if he was an idiot…the most forgetful family protector on the island. He had been around since my great-great-grandfather’s time.

I looked to Grandfather Huali at the front of the canoe. He relayed baiting instructions to Akamu and Kaleo, my older cousins. Kaleo flung a dead fish at Akamu when Grandfather’s back was turned. It missed and landed on Grandfather’s head. A trail of intestines lined his face as the bait slid down his cheek and into the floor of the canoe.

Grandfather had told me I should listen to Pueo more often, that his old age meant he had great wisdom. Grandfather thought Akamu and Kaleo were ready to bait the shark themselves on this hunt. My cousins might be bigger idiots than the owl was, which makes my age old grandfather not so wise. Maybe his wisdom left along with his dark hair, leaving behind an empty white tangle of old.

What did age have to do with wisdom anyway?

Pueo ruffled his gray feathers and flew from the aft of the vessel to the middle of the canoe where I knelt. “If death you seek then death you’ll surely find. Perhaps a hand, perhaps a boy to feast upon—the lure of flesh tempts kings of sharks.”

So not only will a shark eat me tonight, but maybe the king of sharks too? I rolled my eyes but pulled my hand in anyway, deliberately splashing water on Pueo as I did.

Pueo grunted disapproval and returned to his original perch at the back of the boat.

If he didn’t like to get wet, then a double-hulled canoe in the middle of the ocean was exactly where he should be. I rolled my eyes again then looked to the island in the distance. We floated just past the edge of the reef, and I could see the flame from our fire pit on the sand. I sighed. We were too close to shore and not heading anywhere really fast. It was going to be a long night. 

Thanks ahead for your input. I'm gonna cheat and say whoever leaves a comment on my post is tagged. Let me know if you decide to play so I can read your Magic 8 Ball post too!


jaybird said...

Ilima- #1, thank you for participating in this meme #2. You never cease to amaze me. You are such a versatile writer! #3. I don't think I want you to change this, at all. My fav line is when Koa wonders if Grandfather's wisdom left with his dark hair. That sentance resonated with me.

What specifically, don't you like? Maybe I can be more useful if I know exactly what you'd like to change?

Kelley Lynn said...

Hmmm... I agree with Jaybird. This is fantastic!

But you're a fantastic writer, so it makes sense :)

Cassie Mae said...

Shark hunting... Yikes!

I thought you had the verbiage like, spot on with this. I can totally tell what time period we're in, the setting you put us in, and it was so crisp, first paragraph had me. :)

I only caught a few words I'd just take out since they're not really needed.

"Pueo grunted disapproval..." *disapproval, since we get just by him grunting, he's not too happy about getting splashed. ;)

"We were too close to shore and not heading anywhere really fast..."

Then just add a comma in this sentence: "If death you seek then death you'll surely find." Right between seek and then. But that's only because I had to read that twice to say it out loud the way I think it's supposed to be said, if that makes sense, lol.

So just nitpicks, but nothing major because the scene is beautiful. Great job, girl. :)

ilima said...

Jaybird-I like that line too :). I'm just looking for anything that stands out as off, I guess. No other eyes but mine have read this yet. Thanks!

Kelley-Welcome back! And thanks, you are too kind.

Cassie-Those are perfect suggestions. Thank you!

Emily R. King said...

I'm with Cassie on taking out "disapproval." Other than that it is great!

Kathryn Purdie said...

Ooh, I like your additions to this, Ilima. I remember reading the first page of this several months ago.

I'd mainly suggest omitting the cousins' names, and giving us their names perhaps a couple pages in. There are five unusual names for the reader to learn right here, and I was having a hard time keeping track. I think the cousins could still be in this scene, just have them nameless for now. Perhaps even just call the grandfather, "Grandfather" right now, and save the "Huali" for later.

Great excerpt, Ilima!

Deana said...

Hmm, I am not that good with MG, but I am telling you the truth, I love this beginning! No joke, it was mesmerizing:)

ilima said...

Emily-thanks! I think it's better without that too.

Katie-So funny. Too many characters too fast is usually what I call other people out on. Thanks!

Deana-Thank you. I'm not sure I'm good with MG either. It was definitely a different experience to write.