Comment to 'Sol: A YA Novel looking for a critique '
  •  Hi Pamela,

    I won't repeat what Kate and L have already told you, but I agree with them.

    What they haven't said is that you've got some really great images and anecdotes in what you've written which have the power to show elements of these mysterious Fae powers that Sol has. I love the bit about the rose bush blooming all winter, the forget-me-nots that sprung up when she was going through a teenage crush, and the way these things exasperate mum. It made me think of the bit early on in the first Harry Potter book where Harry unwittingly uses his magic to talk with the snake and the zoo and then makes the glass window vanish.

    Could you turn some of this into a bit of present action rather than all reminiscing over what has happened in the past? For example, could you begin with Sol sat inside doing something typically teenage (e.g. scrolling through social media) and mum coming into the house with a pair of secateurs declaring that she can't understand why that rose bush can't tell that it shouldn't be blooming in the depths of winter. And then you could have a brief bit of Sol reflecting on the effect she seems to have on plants and remembering the time mum had to reseed the lawn. Mum could also perhaps make a comment about how a coyote or something has killed all of next door's chickens and how lucky we've been that it's left ours alone for some reason. Sol could then say to the reader something like... What mum doesn't know is that I told the coyote to leave our chickens alone. The animals listen to me you see.

    I think that in just a few short paragraphs you could communicate the essence of Sol's differences, her special but as yet unharnessed powers, through an event that's happening in the present. But don't give us too many anecdotes and also don't give too much away - you just need to hint at these things and leave your reader wondering whether Sol is really special or whether she's just got a vivid imagination.

    If that's chapter 1, I'd perhaps start chapter 2 with Sol tracing her finger over the symbol carved into the rock in the wall. Then perhaps mum could call to her or walk past her and ask what she's daydreaming about now / tell her she needs to get on with something she should be doing. Then when Sol looks back towards the symbol, it's vanished and she's left wondering whether it ever was there, whether it was a trick of the light or something. I'd definitely cut the All of these memories came flooding back to me, as I stood in our garden... Just go straight to what's happening now, and bring in another person (e.g. mum) into that present so that Sol's reflections are punctuated by things in the present. In fact, I think it should probably be the other way around, that perhaps events in the present are punctuated from time to time by reflections on things that have happened in the past.

    Of course, these are all just suggestions and it's your story, not mine. But I think you've got some good material in these first few chapters that just needs focusing a bit more into action rather than reminiscence. Others may disagree and say that you should jump straight into the more major inciting incident in your story.

    All the best. Paul.

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    • Paul thank you so much for the great feedback!  I actually had a few ideas pop into my head while I was reading it.  I'm hoping have a good chunk of time this weekend to get starting on (more) editing/reworking.  


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