dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

blakeNovember is the month for repeat visitors, which I love! I’m happy to think that our feedback is useful. Today, Blake Haysel is here with ASHES, a YA post-apocalyptic dystopian.

***

Till the sun explodes.

          As the sun was bidding goodnight to the star littered galaxy and dipping into the welcoming horizon of Earth, it flew into a blazing rage. A brilliant sight it was. A burst of vaporizing heat and radiant light. The shattered sky was stained in splashes of color for the first couple of weeks of The After.

          That is the story they spit out at us in The Anthill, anyway. “They” being The Globe. The Globe is the all-seeing. Or at least that is what we are supposed to believe without a shadow of a doubt. Still, I will bet a week of my Meal Twos that some of us know otherwise. But who are we earth dwelling folk to dispute what The Globe tells us is the truth? Besides, The Globe does not tolerate blasphemy even if anyone had the nerve.

          Till the sun explodes, his smooth, comforting voice had come through the receiver. Those were the words he always used when he ended our conversations over the phone. Or any other conversation he could mangle it into. Those are the very words that continue to haunt me to this day. Yes, that was how long he said he would love me. And he kept his promise. He lived up to his word. Or rather he died for it. How was he to know that the sun was going to explode that afternoon?

          Or maybe he did know.

          Scientists had been working for years to harness the sun’s energy to fuel and power, well, everything. Not just homes and the occasional building but vehicles of transportation, factories, bombs and other lethal weapons. Entire cities. Like I said, everything. By trying to squeeze all of that power into single battery that would last forever.         

          So the sun retaliated.

***

My first thought after reading this page was that I didn’t know much about the main character, not even the gender. And this reminded me of a webinar I once took in which a literary agent said the three things he looked for on the first page of a YA manuscript were Character, Voice, and Conflict.

The first paragraph here is a story about how the sun looked when this event happened. The second is an introduction to the dystopian society that developed post-apocalypse. The last paragraph is an explanation for the catastrophe.

Only the middle paragraph is personal to the narrator because she (?) is remembering someone who died that day. We aren’t told who – but my guess is a father rather than a love interest, because I’m assuming this event is years in the past. This is the paragraph that should begin the story, in my opinion, because it is poignant, full of voice, and a conduit for learning about the main character.

The paragraph that describes people’s memories of the sun exploding – I like it. Keep it, not as the first paragraph, but perhaps juxtaposed with the narrator’s knowledge that her father (?) died in that brilliant burst of light. That would serve to set up the conflict and lead us into the MC’s present day life.

The paragraph about the Anthill – I would cut that entirely in favor of showing us life in the Anthill. I want to see her eating a Meal Two and hear the words coming from The Globe. I want to see the doubt on some people’s faces and feel the fear that keeps them from speaking up. The scientific explanation for the catastrophe – we can wait to learn about that. Is there any remnant of that perpetual energy technology left? Perhaps in The Globe? That would be the place for us to learn about it.

Readers, what do you think? You can read Marcy’s thoughts on this page at Mainewords and connect with Blake at her blog, The Tattered Page.