Wednesday, September 21, 2011

YA first page contest hosted by Brenda Drake (Can you hook a teen?)

Title: Hellfire
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Avery was fully dressed, under a sheet, and felt more exposed than if she were naked. Even if she were checked on, she could pretend to be asleep. There wouldn't be any reason for her covers to be ripped back, revealing her intentions, but the sleeveless top and jeans she had on felt like a traitorous beacon, calling out. She laid flat on her back, and staring through the darkness too aware of the rise and fall of her chest with the summer heat pressing down on her.

She couldn’t be early-standing out in the dark alley alone would be stupid. And if she was discovered to be out of bed, she'd be caught before Megan could pick her up. Being caught meant bruises and being locked in her room for a week, if she was lucky.

She couldn’t be late, either. Megan would wait for a minute, maybe two before creeping away, thinking Avery was unable to escape and not wanting to draw any unwanted attention.

The light from across the hall that leaked under Avery’s door had gone out forty-three minutes ago.

 Please let her be asleep by now.

Six minutes to go.

She had to move now, or she wouldn’t have enough time to get the window open and the screen out without feeling rushed and making noise. The edges of panic nipped at her as she sat up and pushed the sheet aside, but she knew from experience that if she allowed it to take hold, it would be harder to think and even harder to react. Her whole life she had lived knowing taught her this, and more than anything, she wanted control over her fear.


  1. Wo-hoo! a fellow Canadian! ...I lived in Calgary/Airdrie for a year and have family in Lethbridge ;)

    now, onto the 250 words...

    I thought this was interesting... you caught my attention 'cause I want to know why she's sneaking out, but there were a couple things I think you could improve to make it tighter/cleaner.

    For example, it was only when I read about the light from across the hall going out that I realized she was probably at home. Because she's hiding only under a sheet and thinking of escaping, I actually assumed she was at a hospital or something. Can you give us a few details so we know she's home?

    I wasn't sure why she's concerned about the rise and fall of her chest... if checked, she'd pretend to sleep... she's not pretending to be dead, so it's normal for her chest to rise/fall.

    I also don't think I fully understood the last line. Basically, she freezes up, right? That's perfectly natural... but because you devote so many words to this (your final 3 sentences), I'm assuming there should be something more, yet you only describe a normal reaction. Perhaps your very next line resolves this, but if not, I'd like it to be clarified a bit more.

    I'd turn the page :)

  2. You hooked me! I may not be a teen anymore, but I really like this. The sheet did make me think of some kind of hospital or something and the light in the hall sounded like a nurse's station. I think you did a great job of getting us into your MCs head without the use of first person. I'm definitely curious about the relationship between Avery and Megan, why they're sneaking away and where they're sneaking away from. Good job!

  3. Oh. This tension brought me in right away. I'd love to read more.