Friday Crits: The Zmora (YA Horror)

Carol Knee-Omant would like your opinion on the first 250 words of her new YA Horror, THE ZMORA.  (Cool title, huh!)

This Aussie author has already loaded up the story to Amazon and it is downloadable for free this weekend.  She hopes that our feedback will give her some direction on this still-evolving story. 

Here’s the first 250:  (The synopsis is below.  I always find it helpful.)

The poster fluttered in the howling wind. Its corner tugged free with a snap and it flapped/flew down the street to plaster itself against the wet pavement.

Levi stared at it, trying to focus on the words but they were blurring. Even as he tried to read them, the black ink splaying across the page, mingling, until it became unreadable.

He shrunk further into his coat. He didn’t need to see the words to know what it said. He didn’t need to read the poster to know the effect it had on those who read it.

From the moment the poster had been nailed to poles all over Larsenville, people had changed.
No; it hadn’t been the poster, it had been before that, but the stark white sheets with their huge black letters calling for a town meeting was a culmination of all the guessing. It was an acknowledgement that something was wrong, something they could not fix.

Levi rode his black, ten speed bike through the darkening streets, scrutinizing each house carefully. The town was shrouded in a gloom that seemed to swallow the ground as it advanced. It was winter and the arch of trees overhead were skeletal hands that reached out bony fingers to snatch at his hair as he rode past. He skidded to a halt, the squeal of tyres barely audible over the wind that rushed onwards, rattling rubbish bins. The brightly coloured awnings of houses snapped taut before billowing out at the next onslaught.

And the synopsis:

Levi Puskaric is an ordinary sixteen year old. He has a best friend, James; parents, a sister and a weird Polish grandmother who dresses in black, making signs to ward off evil. Together, Levi and James are ‘The Team’ and one day; they are going to Make It Big. They just haven’t figured out how yet. For ‘The Team’, it doesn’t come bigger than killing a monster and saving the town.

Thanks for your participation!  Carol and I both appreciate it!

4 Comments

  • Becky Wallace

    Hi Carol! Thanks again for participating! It’s a great start to a story and I want to know what the posters say!

    My thoughts are as follows:

    1. Lose the flapped/flew. I’d just pick one verb.
    2. I would drop or combine the second or third paragraph. If he knows what they say, why is he trying to read them?
    3. The last paragraph does a great job making the scene seem creepy, but I think I’d change up the imagery a little. I’ve read similar skeletal trees/branches as fingers before and would like to see something a little fresher. Maybe you just leave it at the ground-eating gloom? I like that.

    And that’s all I’ve got! Good luck! <3 <3

  • Melodie Wright

    I like your atmosphere, Carol!
    But I’d rather know what the posters say. IMHO, lead with that before going into the rest. Your hook right now just isn’t there – you’ve got atmosphere but no tension. “People had changed” and “something was wrong” is too vague. Show us how they changed – give us examples of before and after. Make it creepy enough, with Levi as the clear hero, so I want to turn the page.
    Good luck!

  • Laura C.

    Hi Carol!
    I liked it more and more as I read. I think you did a very good job piquing interest so people would read on. The language and synopsis strike me as MG rather than YA, though.

    Here’s a few notes:
    The poster fluttered in the howling wind. (Perhaps you can find something more unusual than ‘howling’? Seems to me I’ve seen that a lot.) Its corner tugged free with a snap and it flapped/flew (Becky’s right; choose one.) down the street to plaster itself against the wet pavement.

    Levi stared at it, trying to focus on the words but they [were blurring] (blurred). Even as he tried to read them, the black ink [splaying across the page, mingling,] (splayed across the page, letters mingling together,) until it became unreadable.

    He shrunk further into his coat. He didn’t need to see the words to know what it said. (Then why was he staring at it and trying to read it?)

    From the moment the poster had been nailed to poles all over Larsenville, people had changed.
    No[;] (comma) it hadn’t been the poster[,] (semi-colon) it had been before that, [but the] (. The) stark white sheets with their huge black letters calling for a town meeting was a culmination of all the guessing.

Leave a Reply to Laura C. Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

css.php