First 250 words of Dadewalker: Book One of the Innocence Saga

I’m entering another bloghop contest. They’re a bunch of fun! This one is called the Made of Awesome contest and it’s hosted by  Shelley Watters of Is It Hot In Here Or Is It This Book? Check out the rules posted there, and also the links to the other contestants.

Today I’m entering the first 250 (248 if you want to get technical) words of Dadewalker. This entry is open for critique, and you are more than welcome to say what you want about it. I’m a big girl, I can handle it.

Title: Dadewalker
Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy
Word Count: 65K words.

FIRST VERSION

I am not a protector of the innocent. I am a punisher of the guilty.

That’s one aspect of my ancestry. My banshee blood screams for the sins of others.

The pounding of many hooves became louder, and I could hear the men – the riders – screaming at the top of their lungs. It was no match to a banshee keen, but it was still loud – and terrifying.

“I won’t leave you, Innocence,” Laysa said, her soft brown eyes wide. “You didn’t leave me.”

The riders came in to view over the hillock, whooping their war-cry and swinging their swords, their horses frantic and foaming at the mouth, hooves tearing up the soft earth and sending clomps of dirt flying every which way. Laysa half-turned, saw their approach, and shoved at me. “Run!”

But I couldn’t run. It was physically not possible.

So I planted my feet and prepared to meet the rider head on.

They jumped off their horses and came at us, their swords drawn.

Tagodan snarled horribly, and clashed his wolf teeth against the Riders. I quickly lost sight of him among the sea of brown hair and eager, maniacal grins and raised arms and glinting blades.

I twisted my palms down to the earth, and thought, Winter.

The temperature dropped immediately and the icy wind cut through the warm summer’s day. Snow that burned to touch whipped through the air and ice crusted at my feet.

But it wasn’t enough.

I couldn’t protect the innocents.

That’s it, ladies and gents! Remember to hop over to the other entries on Shelley Watter’s blog and check them all out as well.

FINAL VERSION

I am not a protector of the innocent. I am a punisher of the guilty.

That’s one aspect of my ancestry. My banshee blood screams for the sins of others.

The pounding of hooves got louder, and I could hear the men – the Storm Riders – bellowing at the top of their lungs. It was no match to my banshee keen, but it was still loud – and terrifying.

“I won’t leave you,” Laysa said, her eyes wide. “You didn’t leave me.”

The Riders came into view over the hillock, whooping their war-cry and swinging their swords, their horses frantic and foaming at the mouth, hooves tearing up the soft earth. Tagodan by my side growled horribly, his hackles raised, lupine teeth exposed. Laysa panicked, and shoved me. “Run!”

But I couldn’t run. Not anymore. My injuries, blood loss, and the weight of my unborn baby were just too much.

I planted my feet and prepared to meet the Riders head on. They jumped off their horses and came at us, swords drawn.

Tagodan leapt at the Riders, teeth bared. I quickly lost sight of him among the sea of brown hair and glinting blades. The scent of their sin made me dizzy.

I twisted my palms down to the earth, and thought, Winter.

The temperature dropped immediately and the icy wind cut through the warm summer’s day. Snow that burned to touch whipped through the air and ice crusted at my feet.

But it wasn’t enough.

I couldn’t protect the innocents.

I entered this version on Shelley Watters’ blog contest. If you want to find out more about Dadewalker, Book 1 of the Innocence Saga, you can check out its page here; information on the main character here; my tension blogfest entry from the sequel, Darkwalker, here; you can follow me on Twitter or fan me on Facebook for regular updates, or subscribe to this blog using the button in the sidebar.

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Posted on May 28, 2011, in Bloghop, Dadewalker (Innocence Saga #1) and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.

  1. Lissa,

    I honestly have no comments other than this is a very powerful opening. The first two lines alone hooked me and I love how circular it becomes with the last line. Great entry and best of luck!

  2. Awesome beginning. I couldn’t think of much to say because I was always under the impression that publishers/agents usually do not prefer first person present tense. I could catch you on passive writing, but not sure if that still applies in first person!
    But this was an interesting opening that leaves the readers wanting to know more!

    • It’s actually first person past tense. Passive writing applies differently when it changes POV – it’s harder to fix passive in first person because the sentences often make perfect sense.
      Thanks very much for your support!

  3. And also, good use of adjectives. You have hardly any!

  4. This has a catchy opening line. I’m sort of excited by a book featuring banshees since I don’t think in the paranormal trend they’ve been covered much.

    “The pounding of many hooves **grew** louder…” –I think “grew” makes this feel more present than “became.”

    I’m curious who Laysa is. A sister, friend, relative, villager, another punisher of the guilty…Then Tagodan appears on the scene without introduction and I’m not certain if he’s human or animal, or both.

    I’m curious why the protagonist is unable to run. Is it a physical ailment or a magical enchantment that keeps her from leaving? Then when the MC says they can’t protect the innocent, I am wondering how that plays into the first line where the MC states they are a punisher of the guilty and not a protector.

    The scene feels very real, especially the oncoming warriors. I’d like to feel or see the named characters with equal clarity.

    • All your questions are addressed in the next few chapters. I’m not into info-dumping, especially in high fantasy. If everyone has every question answered right away, there’s no incentive to turn the next page and find out.
      I have taken your suggestion on board – I did struggle with that sentence, so I thank you. And thank you for your support!

  5. the first line gives us a clear view of who we are dealing with and that that person is going to be an interesting enigma and not a stereotype. i like that the POV can admit they punish the guilty rather than protect the innocent…especially because a few paragraphs later the POV admits they couldn’t protect the innocents even though they tried or are trying.

    in the sentence, “so i planted my feet…” you mention that you met the rider head-on, but i am wondering if you meant “the riders” as you mention earlier and later there are several…

    great job!

    • I’m so glad you picked up on the importance of the opening and closing lines. And thank you very much for pointing out my typo – it will be fixed immediately.
      Thanks very much for your support!

  6. Wow, this is a great first page! I want to read the rest! Hurry up and get published, okay? ;)

    Good luck with the contest!

  7. I really enjoyed your first page. There is a lot going on in a short space and I think you handle it well. I would keep reading and I want to know what happens next. Plus I really liked your opening lines.

  8. Very action packed. I would suggest combining the first two paragraphs–because we jump right into the conflict after that. (A break in perspective.)

    “The riders came in to view…” I believe that should be “into”.

    I love the conflict–that final line about protecting the innocent. Great stuff.

  9. Great concept we get a great feel for the seriousness of what’s going on. I’m with the comment above, “Get published already!” I want to read your book. Good luck!

  10. two small things maybe
    “It was no match to a banshee keen” don’t you mean to “my keen” ?
    and
    “But I couldn’t run. It was physically not possible.”
    It made me think “what your feet are broken?” Perhaps physically not possible is to strong.

    • Thanks for your input. You will find out on page two why she can’t run. It’s too much information to dump it all on page one.

  11. I liked the opening very much. I think that killer first lines, while not super-duper necessary, can hook a reader for many more pages – and you have one. I was especially hooked, hooked, hooked when she said Winter. I really want to learn more about what she can do (of course, now that I read this again – I’m assuming your protag is a she – am I right? maybe I just missed something)
    The only thing that bothered me was the switch from the first two sentences in present tense to the past tense. I’m not sure you need to change that though.

    Great job!

    • Yes, my protagonist is female.
      I don’t feel I need to change the opening lines to past tense because then, to me, they would sound far too strange. I feel the use of the second paragraph helps move the third paragraph into past tense.
      Thank you very much for your support!

  12. the switch from present tense (i am) to past tense (it was) was really jarring for me. other than that, i had a bit trouble getting oriented in the scene for some reason? i didn’t really know enough about the world or the people to understand what was going on, why the narrator had to run, and what Laysha meant by ‘you didn’t leave me.’ i wasn’t sure who that was addressed to? is the mc’s name innocence or is that something else?? i definitely understand you want to leave some sort of intrigue, but too many questions makes my brain hurt and i’d rather avoid the confusion than keep reading. i don’t really like it when i feel like authors aren’t telling me information just so they can surprise me with it later?

    but i do like your writing. i felt the tension for sure. i like that the mc is a banshee and i like that she didn’t just stand there stupid, but actually tried to fight (even if it didn’t work).

    • It’s OK: high fantasy isn’t for everyone. All of your questions are answered in the next few pages of the book (which is exactly why I wrote the opening like I did). Like I said above I can’t stand infodumps – they are prevalent in high fantasy which requires a lot of worldbuilding and explanation.
      I stand by my decision to keep the first two paragraphs present tense. If I changed them to past tense, it would raise questions such as “She WAS a punisher of the guilty – what does she do NOW? How is this relevant?”
      Thank you for your input.

  13. I liked the opening and I was drawn in immediately, but I was thrown off by the name “Innocence” (it is the MCs name right?) because she talks about innocent people twice. Layla has a more conventional name, so I guess that’s why I was confused. I was curious whether she was physically unable to run from fear, or if she really couldn’t. If she can run, I might change that line to “paralyzed by fear” or something like that. I loved the ending line, very powerful! And I like that she has the ability to control the seasons.

  14. This is a really strong opening. Really strong. I wish it was longer, honestly.

  15. GREAT first line, and I love the “controlling the seasons” concept. Very interesting. I too wondered why she couldn’t run. Also, I wondered about the “shoved at me” line. It might be stronger to say “shoved me”.

    Great job… best of luck!!

    • I’m going to address the ‘why she can’t run’ in the polished version. I will also trim off that extra word. Thank you for pointing out its weakness to me.

  16. This isn’t a genre I regularly read in (and I’m not even sure I know what a banshee is, so sorry!), but I liked it. I might just be missing something, but my suggestions are:
    -you switch from innocence in the first sentence to Innocence later (the name of the main character? I can’t tell) to innocents in the last line. If it’s intentional, I can’t tell why.
    -also, you switch from the Riders to the rider and back to the Riders.
    -I’m not sure why the mc can hear them coming and prepares for battle, but Laysa doesn’t see them until the last second and then wants her to run (again, I don’t know what a banshee is, but it sounds tough, so why should she run? and why doesn’t Laysa know she can’t?)
    -I’m not sure where the wolf came from – maybe it would be more clear if you say earlier that it will be the three of them vs. (however many) Riders??

    Good luck!!
    erica
    -

    • Honestly, my banshees are my own interpretation of the traditional women so it’ll be a little different from anything you’ve ever read before.
      - The word changes are intentional. My MC’s name is Innocence Frostcaller. I guess it’s too confusing for everyone, so I’m going to delete any reference to her name at all in the opening chapter. It’s not like we specifically need it, it’s just what Laysa told me she said when I was writing it.
      - I will address the Riders/riders problem in the polished version. Thank you.
      - That’s called characterisation. Laysa’s not a banshee, and she’s very worried for her friend.
      - The wolf didn’t come from anywhere. He was always there. I’m only dropping a hint at this so early because it is addressed in later pages, where he is integral.

      Thank you very much for your feedback :D

  17. Ohh she has cool powers, but why wasn’t it enough in the end?

    I love high fantasy, so I loved your entry. We’re in action and she’s decided to stay and fight… wasn’t quite sure why she couldn’t physically run away – give us a quick reason to make it believable.

    Good luck.

    • Thank you, and I will for sure make certain to add in WHY she cannot run – it’s a very, very good reason.
      Thank you for your comment!

  18. Wow – the writing and the riveting emotion in this is really…amazing! I couldn’t take my eyes off any of the lines, and the interwoven worldbuilding is really, really well done. Only complaint is the reveal of her banshee heritage so early, maybe leave that for the end of the chapter as a way to kick it up? These first words are so amped they don’t need that extra kick, but I suspect the end of a chapter might.

    This is awesome, good luck!

  19. Great job! The only comment I can think of is the switch from present tense in the first 2 sentences to past tense in the ones that followed kinda threw me off.
    But it might be just me.
    Good luck in the contest, and thanks for stopping by my blog!

    • Thanks for stopping by! As I said to another commenter, I can’t change it to past tense without it sounding very strange indeed, so I’m going to keep it that way.
      Thank you and good luck!

  20. Great opening lines! I’m definitely intrigued by the action going on and the banshee premise, which is unique. I’d read on to find out who all the characters are and why she can’t move, etc.

  21. I thought this was a strong opening! I really liked it! I think banshees haven’t been covered enough in modern paranormal or high fantasy, so I’m excited to see something new, fresh and unique. I didn’t know banshees had the power to command the weather, either!

    Good job, and good luck! Thanks for commenting on my entry!

    • Thanks very much for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment.
      Like some vampires don’t drink human blood, and Tolkien wrote elves as tall, willowy, and immortal, my banshees are my own twist on the myth. Traditionally they don’t control the elements, but this character can.

  22. This is so compelling and draws one right in. I have only two comments. First, the description of “soft brown eyes” among all those hard, pounding words sounds out of place; I’d cut the word “soft”. Second, your description of Tagodan is so swift that I was lost — is he an actual wolf? A werewolf? If he’s clashing his teeth against the raiders, then he’s already engaged in combat – how did he get there? There’s no transition – he just appears, as opposed to Laysa who is clearly beside you. Give us a little more of him.

    Beautiful writing! Good luck in the contest! (Sorry I got here so late – it’s been quite a busy weekend for me)

  23. Thanks to everyone for dropping by. I have put my final version on Shelley’s entry page as well as on the main page here in purple. Thank you, and good luck!

  24. Your final version is so suspenseful, Lissa. I want to know what happens next! This is definitely a book I would read. :-)

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