Brenda Drake Contest Entry: Can we guess your character’s age?

Brenda Drake’s blog is hosting a contest on your manuscript’s first 250 words.  The contest is open to all genres.  All you need to do is post your first 250 words on your Blog on December 8th so everyone can read and comment.  You cannot tell the title or genre.  Your work needs to stand on its own.

After you get feedback from your followers and other contestants, make any changes you think are necessary, and when you are ready, email your final entry to Brenda by midnight December 10th.

Finalists will be chosen by Brenda and her gang of word lovers, and the three winners will be chosen by Gabriela Lessa, a professional editor and literary agent assistant

The winners get free editing.  Not too shabby.

Without further ado… here’s the beginning of my novel.

Can you guess my characters age?  If you already know how old he is, does it sound right?


“I’m not gonna sit here locked in a closet all day.” Magellan pulled away from his mother, leaving his whimpering brothers and sisters clinging to her skirts.

“Magellan, come back here.”

“No. I wanna hear Dad’s speech.” He pressed his cheek against a large crack in the door and closed one eye.  Sconces lit the long stone hallway that lead to the auditorium. “I wish I could see something.”

“Get back mine scum!” A guard threw something against the door, slamming the wood against his face.

“Ouch,” Magellan rubbed his cheek. “Jerk.”

Footsteps clomped away, and his mother exhaled. “Magellan, your father said…”

“I know what he said.” Magellan furled his eyebrows.  “Right before they locked us in here.”  He flicked a bug from the damp stone wall beside him. “I’m not a baby anymore. I want to help.”

He ran his fingers across the locking plate, and jumped as flames flashed across the metal, spinning and swirling around it.  What was that?  Nothing in the room could have made that reflection.  He wrinkled his nose and reached for the lock again, but it fell right into his hand before he could even touch it.

“What the…” The door swung open by itself.  Magellan gasped.  “What’s going on?”

He leaned out, and carefully considered the three guards arguing at the far end of the hallway.

The Goddess must be with me today! he thought.

He placed his hand on the doorframe, and his mother stood.  “Magellan Talbot, don’t you dare!”

25 responses to “Brenda Drake Contest Entry: Can we guess your character’s age?

  1. Well, I got this too late to play, but I was thinking, “10-12” before I read the comments, because I actually remember being that young. Oofdah!.

  2. Great entry. The character’s stubborness and doing what he is told not to do and doesn’t like to be called ‘baby’ reminds me of my son…hehhe… So I’ll go with 13.

  3. I’ll put Magellan at 12. He’s still under his mother’s thumb but struggling to explore his own power. It’s hard with a fantasy setting, but that’s my guess. I loved the fire part and the goddess line seemed fine to me. I just assumed his mom said that all the time.

  4. I think I’m gonna go with 12 too. I love the voice!

  5. wow! I definitely want to read on 🙂 I would guess 12??

  6. My first reaction is eight.

  7. I’m going to guess 11. As for the excerpt, it felt historical, but Magellan’s dialogue was modern, namely the use of ‘jerk’, which is from the 1930’s at the earliest, and not under the current definition.[Thank you, ;)] I agree with Heather Webb on the use of ‘baby’, and Julie Daines on the ‘the Goddess must be with me today!’ line. It felt much older than everything else. Best of luck! =)

  8. Oh gosh. Hmmm, I think I’m gonna go with lucky 13? Great piece! I love the voice in it 🙂

  9. I’m guessing 11-12. He sounds young because he insists on doing what he’s not allowed to and his mother speaks to him like a child, not a teenager. Great start. I want to know what happens next!

  10. good story. I’m guessing the age between 10 and 12. Magellan is at the dare devil age.

  11. I’m going with 13. Young, but not under the double digits. Great opening!

  12. felt 9-10 to me from the body language and voice.

  13. I remember the “which opening should I use” but I don’t remember how old he is. I go back and forth, sometimes I think 10, then I think 12. And certainly 12 year olds are on that “I’m not a baby anymore,” while still, indeed being a baby.

  14. charitybradford

    I’m guessing 12 from what he actually says, but agree that him holding on to him mom makes him feel younger.

  15. I’d say 12 or 13 based on his “I’m not a baby anymore” comment, which indicates he’s not all that far out of babyhood. 🙂

  16. I’m guessing 10 since the boy is clinging to his mother at first, but 12-13 by his voice.

    Nice beginning. Ditto what swiftscribbler said, actually. The only other thing I’d mention is that I can’t tell when the story takes place. I’m guessing the past because of the stone wall cells, mom’s skirts, etc. But it could also be futuristic. Dunno? If it’s in the past, I’d ditch the word “baby”, and use the word child instead.
    Good luck and nice job!

  17. I think he sounds a bit younger — 10?

  18. I’m guessing 12-14 years old, give or take. You have a few nice words in there that give him a youthful voice, like “jerk.”

    I agree with the previous comment that his line, “the Goddess must be with me today” felt out of voice compared to the rest.

    I love it, your writing is nice and clean and this is a great and intriguing beginning. (Quick spelling mistake in third paragraph: “lead” should be “led”.

  19. I won’t say anything because I know Magellan’s age already. The comment “The goddess must be with me today” threw me a bit. I’m assuming this would be said in the same context as me or you saying “God must be with me today”, right? If that’s how it’s meant, I might change it to read something like “the goddess must be watching over me today”. There are a couple of quirks to me. I’ll post them by PM.

    Is this contest fun or what? 🙂

  20. Hi Jennifer! I remember reading this one before! You’ve made some wonderful edits. I don’t know if we’re supposed to give feedback or just guess an age, but I know I always appreciate criticism, so I’ll do both.

    Age: 12
    I think I remember my comments last time were mostly about the mother’s reactions. You’ve improved them, but I’d still like a tiny bit more. For example, where she says “Magellan, get back here,” could you give us some tone or body language so we can picture her reaction? Is she overwhelmed by the situation? Afraid? Is she irritated, but too busy with the other x number of children to come after him. Is she panicked? Does she try to move to stop him, but can’t without dislodging the others? Also, does she really want him back with her or just away from the door? You don’t have to tell us all that, but some clues as to what she’s feeling could give the reader a better understanding of her and her relationship with Magellan. Also, I would think that being locked in a closet while her husband is on trial or something would be something that would cause her more fear/anxiety, but mostly I just get a feeling like she’s nagging–like a parent would do when a kid’s misbehaving in a mall, not like when he’s misbehaving while they’re in a really dangerous situation (like being held up or held hostage or something). And lastly, The exclamation point in “Megellan, don’t you dare!” makes is sound like she’s yelling, but isn’t she worried about getting caught? I suggest some clues as to how she says it, like: “Magellan Talbot,” he heard his mother hiss from behind him, quietly so as to not call the attention of the guards. He turned and saw her struggling to her feet under the clinging arms of his siblings. “Don’t you dare.” There was real alarm on her face…” except way better!! 🙂

    One last minor thing–how does the guard know he’s at the door if they’re at the end of the hall? Maybe add in a sound of the door bumping against the jam when he presses his face to it.

    The description of what happened to the lock is great now!

    Good job and good luck!

  21. I can’t vote because I already know your characters age. I participated in your “which opening do you like” poll. I like the one you chose. I know the age. I want to read the rest. Keep editing, for crumb’s sake!

    SO tempted to enter. Will see how today goes.