Norm, you haven’t wasted your time. You’ve explored your writing and style. The first book is totally worth the effort you expended on it

Better said than me. I write for myself. I revise for others

The visualization of Oz will help a lot in my critiques.

Try adding more color to your first chapter. You did it with the flowers but the house was bland. If you make it technicolor, you will beer away from the similarity to Harry Potter.

Thought: Creation is based on the person’s ability to design. Most people are not designers. The empty houses might be full of bad creations, lumpy cups, lack of details in the construction so the cushions would fall in. If Izzy is spectacular at Creation, then she is aware of style, shape, form, and color. How does this change the first chapter?


(1,528 replies, posted in Fantasy/Magic & Sci-Fi)


Write your book for you instead of what you think people want

That ends up being a judgement call methinks. I started Alda at the resurrection, but the story starts a whole lot earlier. I have a book (mandates) where I have a terrible time picking where to start, but I keep ending up w Kha climbing back up the mountain. Acts has a better placement for Chapter 1 because there are more characters and a clear threat.

Question: where is Izzy first under threat? Is that a potential starting point?

I've read the chapter summaries.

Here are my thoughts.

The first chapter should present a mystery, giving a hook so that the reader turns to chapter two. I think that you are going through the same thing that all writers go through...where to begin your book. I question (not firm on this, but I question) that you have chosen a placid time to begin your story. Hear me out.

Do the brother or Amma matter? They aren't players in the rest of the book, and don't appear at all after Izzy goes to skill school. Do you need them?

Izzy is going to go through a lot of trials before the end of this book. You have a complicated system of magic with epic consequences. Yet the book begins with someone in a comfy bed waking up with bells in her hair.  If the book started with Izzy going through the abandoned houses, you could present more mystery (since the houses would be abandoned as-is. No moving service in this world. Houses might be abandoned with the table already set. Very few possessions would be worth preserving, and all the toys would be in the child's room.

Just trying to give you ideas.

Based on the summary, nearly the first half of your book seems to be a setup for the system of magic. Only then does the character begin her dramatic life. (Beach/ Island/ Cottage/ Saving Will) So to answer your question about the earlier entrance of the antagonist, my answer is yes. If a teacher/ warden is looking for a student who is good enough at Creation to be subverted into changing the world, then that bad guy is going to be at the front door and checking out every single new student who comes in the door.


I’m not on Dropbox. Not familiar with it. (Embarrassing)

If I haven't given you my email before, it was because you didn't ask, Dirk.

Make it simpler. Find another accountant.

I don’t know your story well enough to predict when to intro the antagonist. Give me an outline of the first five chapters, please.

Linguistics. Cool.

K just writes to kill off his characters. I've learned not to care about anyone. He also writes about 30 mph horses and has his MC ride bareback in freezing cold weather wearing nothing but a sheet. Did I say the character was bareback? Naked except for a sheet? In the freezing cold when she had availability of clothing in the castle where she just killed everybody? OK, moving on.

This is why he needs me around. I scream and stick pins into his voodoo doll when he pulls that kind of crap.

I'm working on Dictates now.

If you don't mind me requesting, I'd like you to read the first chapter of Dictates and then move over to Acts after that. Keeping me getting critiques on the older stuff will help me by keeping me familiar with the older material and nag me to get cracking on revisions.

Mandates is the first story, but it is also the oldest in terms of when I last revised it. It has a weak first chapter, and is full of old mistakes that I've weeded out of my learning curve. Dictates and Acts happen simultaneously, so it doesn't matter when you  read them, since they are being written to be stand-alone stories that link in the fourth book

K dot said: Not so! I've guaranteed that Firestarter will survive to the end. And by survive, I mean be "animate" but not necessarily having a pulse or sanity. Plenty of people wake up with neither of these until their morning coffee, so it still counts as alive

Me: Does that mean that K A J O dies? Your bromance with the character will actually end? WHHOOOOOPEEE! (said with all the respect in the world. Not:-)

Then write your novel without aiming at a specific group or age. Screw MG rules. Or adult rules that require sex and violence. Just write your book. The strength of the first chapter is your prose, the daisy chains, and the way you wax poetic about flowers. That was what stood out to me.

What was missing was an immediate declaration that this book was about magic, as well as an integrated description about the setting and character picturazation. All easily fixed with a couple paragraphs in the right place. But you have skills. It is obvious that this first chapter has been polished, and while there are bumps, they are subtle ones.

Since you eliminated descriptions and took this story down to the bones, you need to build it up again, but better. How many rewrites has this story undergone?

And don't fret the loss of innocence. That is what makes an author tire of their book and self-publish too soon. The only exception that I can name is The Martian, and it doesn't count.

Awww. It made my heart go pitty pat!


(1,528 replies, posted in Fantasy/Magic & Sci-Fi)


I asked my sisters kids to read my story and had the same reception. Turns out my story isn’t for grown up fans of Harry Potter. It is for experienced readers over the age of forty. At least that’s what I’ve come up with for a demographic.

If you are writing for a specific age group, then what have you read and analyzed that has been received well by that demographic?

Ideas: could you start your story having Izzy turned away by magic in the forest? Or her hiding from the Minx on the day of her Summoning? Or exploring one of the empty homes?

I have one of my books that is a similar problem. I just don’t know where to start the story. Try this...go to the book store and read the first chapter of ten books in your genre. It might give you an answer. And it is cheap:-)


(1,528 replies, posted in Fantasy/Magic & Sci-Fi)

large blood loss, concussion, facial trauma (don't make blood in the mouth because you can see bubbles). Severe pallor. Head trauma (never know until they wake up)

Is that good enough or should I go on?

My personal opinion is that NJC (New Jersey for short) is a crusty old bunker. He knows it and admits is freely, so I feel no guilt pointing that finger.

Welcome, Lynne. You've hit the jackpot on this site by finding us. It helps that we like and respect each other. And give each other crap. But this is the reason that I love this forum. We make each other better.

Norm (Dirk in another life) is correct. You have to review to improve. The reason is that you gain the ability to self-edit. So you MUST become an editor to knock yourself off whatever plateau that you are on. I usually have a backlog of about two hundred points. If it drops below 150 then I know I've been neglecting people. New Jersey concentrates on format, sentence structure, parsing your words and condensing, and the musicality of your sentences (a very different way of looking at your writing). Norm looks at flow, and does a great job of letting you know when you are off-topic (tells you when you are boring or losing his attention) and finding typos. I look at character and keep you honest when your character acted one way (in the beginning) and falls off-track because it is convenient to the plot (ask New Jersey about that one. I totally made him groan last week and threw a big steaming pile of garbage into his was glorious)

The others, like SeaBrass is a line-by-line editor who is very good a rearranging my sentences for better flow. The others, you will find out about as they poke their heads into the forum.

FYI, give me a single review. Be critical. Show me what you know by nit-picking and making my first chapter (named Dictates) stronger. I'll read your first chapter and return the favor. I've got energy this week and will put you on my dance card.


Read and acknowledged. I owe you reviews.


Sounds like Christ got ahold of my writing techniques, “and then cool things happen” as an outline for ten chapters:-)


(1,528 replies, posted in Fantasy/Magic & Sci-Fi)

You people are awesome. I just sewed people.