Season Five First Chapter Category Winner Announcement!
A story of love and the pursuit of creative ambition.
Congratulations to, our Lunar Award winner for the first chapter of the serialized novella, “Her Verse”, which is posted on The Boneyard! It’s safe to say this is the first romance awarded a Lunar, and I’m not surprised at all, given the touching relationship revealed in the first chapter. “Her Verse” and the two honorable mentions provide a glimpse of interpersonal relationships revolving around larger worlds by eliminating unnecessary exposition. Let’s explore these concise first chapters together.
I’m going to be a bit more instructive in this review, not critically, but with gentle encouragement to all of the participants, highlighting why “Her Verse” found its way into my heart. It’s important that writers understand why I make the decisions I do (especially in relation to speculative stories), and how I narrow the field down with so many entries. While not a professional editor by trade, it’s my hope this can act as a springboard to broader acceptance in a crowded field of fantasy and science fiction writers.
My assessment is the same for the honorable mentions. We’re being invited to experience a concentrated view of a larger available world, so long as it serves the character and story. This is a struggle for all writers, to communicate what’s happening without unlocking a catacomb of material. “Her Verse”, “Strange Harvest” and “The Little Robot Who Waited“ provide a small taste of a wider world, but we’re made to wait for the main course. Our winning entry gives us the Spire, and our honorable mentions give us Surface and The Collapse.
TSBOL, our winning author, sets the stage for the present and directs the reader’s attention toward a future state. The Spire will be involved to be sure, but we needn’t know how or why just yet. Instead, the reader is treated to a serene interaction between love interests. It’s a uniquely calm introduction that asks me to stoke a winter fire, cozy up under a blanket with a hot beverage and let the evening pass quietly while I bask in the presence of these characters and this setting. There’s not a grand action-packed prologue — it’s more of a welcome embrace. Our honorable mentions do provide a few moments of heightened excitement, definitely not to a fault.
All three first chapters stay true to advancing the plot without being weighed down by lengthy expositions of history and lore. They nearly force you to keep reading into further chapters because a promise is made to reveal hidden secrets against the backdrop of carefully woven world. The action and excitement or the romance and relationship, can all be compliments. There must be a balance. There is nothing wrong with lavish descriptions of environments or some historical context when necessary.
Consider the following analogy:
Imagine looking through a telescope far off into the horizon. You see the figure of a despondent young boy, swabbing the deck of a ship, taking orders from a man out of focus, possibly the captain. Zooming out ever so slightly, you realize the boy is actually captive on a pirate ship, which sails the high seas. Zooming out further, it’s clear they are on the run from her majesty’s galleons, and the boy is a young prince, stolen for ransom. Canons fire in the distance, and now, with plain eyes, you realize all of these vessels are about to enter waters infested with a treacherous sea beast feared for centuries.
Start with the boy, end with the beast — not the other way around.
Thanks to TSBOL and our two honorable mentions for giving us a peak at such wonderful tales, the start of longer narratives I’m sure many readers will enjoy. When you think about worldbuilding as a writer (if indeed you are), don’t be afraid to cast aside elements in order to insert them in future chapters. Savor your world like a fine wine or delicious dessert. It should be consumed with reverence and appreciation, not swallowed whole.
Our full list of participants is below, a diverse mix of fantasy and science fiction authors, hoping you’ll become their next faithful reader.
Once again, thank you to our sponsor, Plotted Out, run by Natalie Phillips! Head over to Plotted Out to read great stories, listen to author interviews and be inspired.
In the story “Strange Harvest”, written by, we follow a honey hunter on a dangerous, but potentially lucrative journey.
In the story “The Little Robot Who Waited”, written by, a boy and his robot find friendship within a crumbling landscape.
(In no particular order.)
Unfortunately, two first chapters went into their paid archives before I could read them. If you’re interested in participating in the future, please double-check your auto-archive paywall settings.
“The Question” by
“Good Company” by
“The Illusion of Fear” by
“Bear and Cub“ by
“A Dance“ by
“Ada’s Children” by
“The Auditors” by
“The Futureness” by