Monday, February 20, 2017

7. THE MAGIC PAINTBRUSH: YA Fantasy

7.
Title: THE MAGIC PAINTBRUSH

Category and Genre: YA Fantasy 

Word Count: 84,000

Query:
Ayden Fragonard lives in a museum. It’s not the most glamorous life. In fact, it’s downright boring. There isn’t much to do. He spends most of his time striking a pose and staring at the walls. Occasionally, someone will walk by and nod their head with an inquisitive brow and say boring things like, interesting or not my taste. Then they walk away. That’s because he’s a painting and has been for the last 500 years. 

Normally, Ayden waits until people have left the room before he speaks. It’s unusual for someone to stick around a bunch of stuffy art. They’ve got better things to do. Then one day Stefan Vermeer, a young artist sat down on the bench in front of him and dozed off. It’s kind of rude, but not as bad when people point and stare at him. So Ayden decides to wake him up and find out why he’s taking a nap in the museum. 

Stefan is in udder disbelief. The boy in the painting is alive, but bound by the oils on the canvas. Stefan tells him he wants to be a painter, but his father disapproves. Ayden can relate. That’s how he became a painting. He was imprisoned in the canvas by an evil painter with a magic paintbrush. This brush can bring inanimate things to life, like turning flowers into butterflies, trees into monsters and tattoos into paint breathing dragons. Intrigued, Stefan spends a night in the museum listening to his story. 

First 250 Words:
In the sleepy town of Holbein, where dreams are never had and stars are rarely seen shimmering above the hazy city lights lived Stefan Vermeer with his father, a stern and quiet man of few words. While young Stefan lay there in bed dreaming of the next masterpiece he would bring to life, the door to his room slowly swung open and a dark shadow crept in. His father then quietly entered the room, as he looked down upon a dreamer sleeping the day away, wasting his youthful years.
From a distant view his eyes quickly grew dim, as he glanced above his son’s bed where just a sliver of light could be seen. There hung a painting very special to Stefan’s heart, his rendition of Starry Night. Something that meant a great deal to him and very little to his father. His father stood there in the dark, grazing the sharp lines on the sides of his chin with two fingers and a thumb in deep thought. He curled his lips together and let out a strong grumble, then paused for a moment to let the air wither down. This was no way to live, he thought to himself. Dreams die quickly and so would his son if he continued allowing him to follow after his dreams.
With this notion in mind, he violently ripped the painting off the wall and started screaming and yelling in an intolerable sense, determined to change his life for the better.

10 comments:

  1. I'm here. So what did you think of my artistic fantasy?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Whenever I give feedback, I’m not telling you what to do with your story or query. I’m only offering suggestions for how I would change it if it were mine. In the end, no one knows their story as well as the writer, and as such, it is up to the writer how to take any suggestions. Good luck, and it was a privilege having all of you on my blog!

    Query:

    This is an interesting concept. I like the way your voice weaves this together in the query, but I worry about the conflict. When you get to the end of the query you make it sound like the whole thing is going to be one person telling a story to another person. There isn’t anything at stake with that, so it leaves me feeling like there’s something missing. That said, you’ve got the pieces that would work to bring in some conflict, you just need to focus your query and drive it towards a more stakes oriented pitch rather than a character and settings based pitch that it is right now.

    First 250:

    The voice in the first page feels very much like a MG novel rather than YA. Given the conflict, it also feels more MG than YA. I think you might consider your age category, to see if it’s a better fit in MG. As for the words, they move nicely together until the last line. I’m unsure what you mean by an intolerable sense. I suspect you might mean incomprehensible, but I don’t know for sure. I really like the first page and I’m curious about how there appears to be more conflict in the story than you showed us in the query, and I’d like to see that come out in the query.

    Otherwise, it’s a really great piece. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to review my query and first 250 words.
      You are right about the Query, the stakes are well, non-existent. Recently I re-wrote it from scratch. I still couldn't figure out how to weave that in, but I will work on it. There are definitely high stakes involved, good Vs. evil.
      MG vs. YA, hmmm, this I will think about as well.
      Overall, good advice! Thank you again, Ellery

      Delete
  3. These comments posted on behalf of Elsie:

    Query:
    What I like about the query? Your tone, your phrasings and the easy way it flows like a story. But when I got to the end, I wondered what the stakes were for Stefan Vermeer ( or Ayden). Will they start a quest to find the brush? Will Stefan stand up to his father? If Stefan gets the brush will it change his father’s mind? What is this building to? I love the magic paintbrush concept and totally wanted to see the tattoos come to life as dragons J but if it’s only a story told and there are no stakes, so I wonder what the climax and resolution will be. If it’s more like a story in a story, it might be younger YA (Im thinking NE story) and that could be cool.

    First 250 Words:
    In the sleepy town of Holbein, where dreams are never had and stars are rarely seen shimmering above the hazy city lights lived Stefan Vermeer with his father, a stern and quiet man of few words. (I like this opening!) While young Stefan lay there in bed dreaming of the next masterpiece he would bring to life, the door to his room slowly swung open and a dark shadow crept in. His father then quietly entered the room, as he looked down upon a dreamer sleeping the day away, wasting his youthful years.
    From a distant view his eyes quickly grew dim, as he glanced above his son’s bed where just a sliver of light could be seen. (this is a great image for me)There hung a painting very special to Stefan’s heart, his rendition of Starry Night. Something that meant a great deal to him and very little to his father. His father stood there in the dark, grazing the sharp lines on the sides of his chin with two fingers and a thumb in deep thought. He curled his lips together and let out a strong grumble, then paused for a moment to let the air wither down. This was no way to live, he thought to himself. Dreams die quickly and so would his son if he continued allowing him to follow after his dreams.
    With this notion in mind, he violently ripped the painting off the wall and started screaming and yelling in an intolerable sense, determined to change his life for the better.

    The first 250 are well written and I liked the fresh and vivid details. You do an excellent job with that. The voice creates a distance for me but that’s not bad, especially if this is going to be a story in a story. After reading the query, I’m very curious as to the direction this tale will take. Solid start!

    All thoughts/suggestions/opinions are humbly offered. Thanks for sharing your words!

    ReplyDelete
  4. For Elsie, your comments were very helpful and yes there is a great conflict that will take place, but I've had trouble working that into the query. After reading your comments I think I know how I will work the conflict in.
    & yes this is a story within a story.
    Stakes: Vermeer must work things out with his father. Fragonard has to defeat the evil painter who imprisoned him in the portrait. The both of them need to learn how to step outside of their fathers shadows.
    Thank you for taking the time to review my query and first 250 words, Ellery

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh and thank you for reassuring me my writing isn't all that bad. It is nice to hear another author like what I have written

    ReplyDelete
  6. All my comments are opinions, please take what helps and forget the rest.

    Query:
    Ayden Fragonard lives in a museum. It’s not the most glamorous life. In fact, it’s downright boring. There isn’t much to do. He spends most of his time striking a pose and staring at the walls. Occasionally, someone will walk by and nod their head with an inquisitive brow and say boring things like, interesting or not my taste. Then they walk away. That’s because he’s a painting and has been for the last 500 years. (I might have just actually yelled... OMG HE'S A PAINTING! Okay I did. This is charming and funny and then a great surprise! The voice pulls me in.)

    Normally, Ayden waits until people have left the room before he speaks. It’s unusual for someone to stick around a bunch of stuffy art. They’ve got better things to do. Then one day Stefan Vermeer, a young artist sat down on the bench in front of him and dozed off. It’s kind of rude, but not as bad when people point and stare at him. So Ayden decides to wake him up and find out why he’s taking a nap in the museum. (Of course! Wake him up!)

    Stefan is in udder disbelief. The boy in the painting is alive, but bound by the oils on the canvas. (MAGIC PAINTING!) Stefan tells him he wants to be a painter, but his father disapproves. Ayden can relate. That’s how he became a painting. (He became a painting because his father disapproved about something he did?) He was imprisoned in the canvas by an evil painter with a magic paintbrush. This brush can bring inanimate things to life, like turning flowers into butterflies, trees into monsters and tattoos into paint breathing dragons. (AH! THAT'S SO COOL!) Intrigued, Stefan spends a night in the museum listening to his story. (And? What? Stefan decides to try and free Ayden? Stefan decides to find the magic paint brush and use it to show his father he could be an artist? Does Stefan listen to the story and learn what he should do in his life? A subtle query. The problem isn't someone trapped or the world ending, but a boy who wants to be something that his father won't allow and a boy who was magically trapped for maybe the same thing? And I get a bit of a middle grade feel from this. But I love the premise! I love the voice! I want more!)

    First 250 Words:
    In the sleepy town of Holbein, where dreams are never had and stars are rarely seen shimmering above the hazy city lights lived Stefan Vermeer with his father, a stern and quiet man of few words. (That is fabulous. Reads like a fairy tale!) While young Stefan lay there in bed dreaming of the next masterpiece he would bring to life, the door to his room slowly swung open and a dark shadow crept in. His father then quietly entered the room, as he looked down upon a dreamer sleeping the day away, wasting his youthful years.
    From a distant view his eyes quickly grew dim, as he glanced above his son’s bed where just a sliver of light could be seen. There hung a painting very special to Stefan’s heart, his rendition of Starry Night. Something that meant a great deal to him and very little to his father. His father stood there in the dark, grazing the sharp lines on the sides of his chin with two fingers and a thumb in deep thought. He curled his lips together and let out a strong grumble, then paused for a moment to let the air wither down. This was no way to live, he thought to himself. Dreams die quickly and so would his son if he continued allowing him to follow after his dreams.
    With this notion in mind, he violently ripped the painting off the wall and started screaming and yelling in an intolerable sense, determined to change his life for the better. (NOOOOOO! I like this a lot a lot. After reading the query I want to know how Stefan and Ayden connect and what the rest of the story is.)

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  7. Thank you for giving me a review, Kathleen Palm. I enjoyed your comments.
    The parts you talked about on the query give me a better sense of where I might consider adding a little length too.
    Thank you again, Ellery

    ReplyDelete
  8. Don't worry, I'm still going to critique this. I've just been swamped the last couple of days. But it WILL happen!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Cool, Ty. This has been a lot of fun and very encouraging to a struggling writer

    ReplyDelete

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