Blog Hop: Guessing the Age Contest

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in Contests & Hops | 23 comments

Hello fellow blog hoppers. I’m having a great time reading your intros and guessing the age. Can you guess my protag’s age in the first 250 words of my WIP? Any suggestions or recommendations on my intro? Let me have it! Let me know if you follow me and I’ll follow you back.


The voodoo priestess tossed entrails into the fire. My throat tightened at the stench, and sweat trickled in hidden places beneath my damp, cotton dress in the suffocating heat.

Mosquitoes buzzed. A night heron babbled in the brush. I twisted the sash on my dress into a knot.

The sun would set soon, and the walk home was far—down the mountain and through the pulsing jungle. Maman would worry. Serpents slid from their dark holes when the heat of the day faded, seeking victims for their poisons. I had witnessed men convulse, their lips frothing, blue-black swelling rising beneath their skin.

Yes, nightfall was deadly, but I could not move. My fate shimmered in the acrid smoke rising from the fire pit.

The old woman chanted, her lips moving in a silent rhythm as she rocked to a sound only she detected. Silver hair sprang from her head in unruly waves and her bent frame was wrapped in colorful cloth. Layers of wooden beads encircled her neck and a fetish of the Ibo god dangled. The slaves bartered for her potions, despite their fear of this small, but commanding woman. I swallowed my apprehension; purpose burned in my chest.

Cousin Aimée poked her finger in my side. She resembled a skittish newt hiding between stones near the riverbed. I glared at her and steadied myself on the uneven stump. I would not be swayed by her urgency to escape.

As suddenly as she began chanting, the priestess stopped.


If you’re interested in visiting more blogs in the contest, check out this link:  BRENDA DRAKE WRITES 


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. M.M. Bennetts

    I don’t know why I’m doing this, because I don’t know what a blog hop is, but I like what you’re doing, but I think you need to slow down and not be afraid to linger on the sensations to really build a sense of tension. You can play with the heat and humidity a lot more. Make her skin prickle with fear. Is she having a hard time remembering to breathe, she’s so tense? You don’t want to rely on used phrases like ‘suffocating heat’. Tell me what did it really feel like–was it so humid that the air nearly stuck in her nose? What about shadows? Are they falling, are the trees taking on forms that scare her? What about the fire? Does the voodoo woman throw anything on it to make it jump and start and burn in different colours? Does she see what she’s afraid is a vision in the flames? Make it as personal to her as you can, write it moment by moment through her eyes, and that way you draw us entirely into her thoughts, we feel what she feels, and we are there in the room–or in the clearing in this case. Best–MM

  2. Kelly Andrews (@kellyandrewsPA)

    This is beautifully written but a tough one because of the historical fantasy element. I’m going to say 12?

  3. Stephanie Diaz

    You have a really nice style of writing, but I am going to suggest that you try to slow your pro tag’s intake of the environment just a little. There’s a lot going on in the first paragraph–it would help if you broke it up and helped us really get a feel for where she is. It’s just a bit too much to take in right off the bat.

    I’m gonna guess that she’s 15 or 16. Nice job with this. 🙂

  4. Charity Bradford

    I love all of your descriptions. It really helped me see where the MC was. This was a hard one to pick an age. I’m going to guess 15.

    I sort of agree with the comments on the first paragraph, and I sort of don’t. LOL, how helpful is that? There is a lot going on, but all the descriptions slow down the pace. I like that because I’m sure your MC is feeling every second that passes while she waits for her fate. And reading all the details pulls me into that slowness.

    I would however cut the part about the snakes and save it for when she’s leaving the voodoo lady. That will keep the tension in the right places. For now the snakes aren’t a real concern while she is relatively safe by the fire.

  5. Francesca Zappia

    Hmm. I’m gonna go with 16. I really like your descriptions and the story got off to a really interesting start. I agree with the others, though–I feel like all that action in the first paragraph could be spread out a little more. Other than that, I really liked it!

  6. Emi Gayle

    Oh, wow! You used Aimée! That’s my real name! 🙂 With the accent and all! 🙂 Love it! Wheee! I’m going to guess 18.

  7. Nicole

    I love the descriptions. It really brings you into the setting. I think this has a mature voice but there is that poking at the end so I want to say upper teens.

  8. Sharon Bayliss

    Assuming “Maman” means mother and since she was with her cousin, she may be young, like 17. But the style of writing didn’t scream YA to me. I was thinking she may be in her mid to upper 20s, just because of the seriousness of the tone. Maybe some dialog would help? Otherwise, nice dark creepy set up.

  9. S. L. Hennessy

    Oooooh, I think I’m going to go with maybe 15? Sounds 15-ish I think. Great voice in this piece – whatever the age 🙂

    P.S. New follower and I LOVE the header on your blog. So clever.

  10. Amy Kennedy

    Such good details. I know “maman” will be worried, of course, their’s no age limit on mothers worrying, yet I think she’s young, under 16. 14-15.

  11. Shell Flower

    I think your pace and description is perfectly balanced here. We’re right in your protag’s head and she’s sensing danger, but interested, too. My guess, given her thoughts of her mother and her bossiness with her cousin, is that she is 13.

    Great start! I am already wondering what is up with the magic going on here and your protag is someone I can relate to with her curiosity.

  12. SwiftScribbler

    Beautifully written! I’m going to guess 16 for her age, since her cousin’s poking her from the bushes and she talks about her maman.

    I actually think you have the right amount of description–I wouldn’t want any more because it would slow it down, and things like the humidity and the heron really say a a lot about the location–well done! I actually like the part about the snakes as well, because it lets us know how important staying to talk to this witch is to her. I would recommend trimming out the description of what the snakes do to people because (a) its not necessary to the reader since we understand the deadliness of snakes, and (b) it makes it seem like her mind is drifting, which doesn’t fit with all the lovely tension you’ve built into the scene. Instead, I do think you could list some of the other dangers of being in the jungle at night, since I would think there’d be more than just snakes.

    There were two tiny word choices that made me stumble. One was the “pulsing” jungle, because I don’t really know what that means. How does it pulse? The other was when you said “to a sound only she detected,” because “detected” sounds stiff and mature for a young voice.

    I also was surprised when I reached the end and discovered that she was sitting, since I had already pictured her standing around the fire–I had to stop and adjust my mental picture. Maybe bring that up into the first paragraph, where she’s talking about being sweaty?

    Anyway, I thought it was beautiful! Good job and good luck!

  13. Elizabeth Arroyo

    It seems like she’s being sacrificed, or some ritual is happening to her. I’d say that can happen about fifteenish.

  14. Kate Larkindale

    It’s really hard to tell. I’m guessing 17 or so.

  15. Julia

    I’d guess early 20’s??

  16. Crystal Licata

    I’m guessing 16. She seems young because of how she speaks about her annoying cousin and worrying her mother but old enough to be aware of her surroundings. Beautiful descriptions but maybe throw a little more action within them. 🙂

  17. Diane Bohannan

    She’s purpose driven! My guess is 15. I’m so curious to know why she’s doing what she’s doing!

  18. Jenny

    I’m going to guess about 15 but this doesn’t read like a YA book. That’s okay because not all novels with a young MC is YA. The ‘voice’, the ‘tone’ seems much older, but there was something about her cousin poking her side that makes me think the MC is around 15.

    I sort of agree with other comments that your descriptions are beautiful but they slow down the pace. I had (and still have) that same problem with my novel (so my beta readers say). I love them, don’t get me wrong, but they can slow the pace. I agree with SwiftScribbler’s comments completely and couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Best of luck with this. You’re a fantastic writer.

  19. Jennifer Eaton

    I feel like she should be young, but the mannerisms and thought patterns are of a young woman. I’d say early twenties. THe words she “thinks” in are not the words of a kid. Good luck!

  20. Amanda the Aspiring

    I love this opening so so much. I’m going to guess she’s about 15—a mature, historical 15 voice. I agree with SwiftScribbler’s comments, and the only thing I would add is that the “swelling rising” distracted me a bit, with the two -ing verbs right next to each other. But if you nix the descriptions of what the snakes do/how deadly they are, as suggested by SS, the problem is nonexistent. Love it! Good luck! =)

  21. L'Aussie

    Hi. Great writing, but yea,maybe a tad too much description too soon, but it does hook me in . The age is very difficult. 13 wild guess?


    Looks interesting here. I’ve followed you.

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