Thursday, October 16, 2008

34 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Trapped By Destiny
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Darkness clouded my sight. Pain flashed through my skull. The ferocious wind, carrying the stench of blood, roared past me. I stumbled, feeling unsteady as I found myself suddenly transported into the middle of a forest.

Two shapes appeared in the distance. One was a hooded sorcerer, holding a twisted snake staff and floating in midair.

My godfather, Lord Elson, circled him defensively in his blue robes. "Your mother, the empress, had such high hopes for you."

"She disgraced herself by marrying a mortal," the sorcerer replied. "I never cared for that weak woman."

"Raphael, you're the descendant of a proud race. Why let the dark arts corrupt you?"

"That's none of your business, old man. Even if you're my godfather." Raphael gave him a look of contempt and raised his staff. A demon was summoned to appear before him, with a pair of fangs outstretched from its blurred figure.

"You'll never be emperor -"

The demon knocked him to the ground. Lord Elson raised his staff in defensive as the demon slashed at him with claws, struggling in vain to rise against its attack.

I tried to run forward, desperate to help him. But I could not move, trapped by a mysterious force. I tried to scream, but could not make a single sound.

The sorcerer whispered inaudibly. Lord Elson's eyes turned blood red, and his lips begin trembling without control. He did not cry out, though he was on the verge of death.


  1. The first paragraph definately dragged me into this. Then I got confused.
    1. For the reader to feel transported, it might help to briefly show where your hero/heroine was. 2. Is the staff or the sorceror in midair? 3. You'll want to add a tag after Elson's first line. There are 2 people and I wasn't sure who spoke first. 3. "Was summoned" is weaker than "a demon appeared". 4. I have an odd image of fangs protruding like dentures out of this creature's mouth. Do you mean claws? Fangs aren't something you typical outstretch. 5. "in defensive" doesn't make sense. I think you cut something and didn't notice it. 6. When the demon slashes, tell us exactly where he connects instead of the more vague "at him". That way we know Elson's receiving blows, is in danger and there's a reason he can't get up. 7. Do a word search for "beg" and remove all begans, begins, etc. Best of luck!

  2. I enjoyed this, but once Lord Elson began to speak, I felt like these first 250 words were serving more as an information dump than the beginning of a story. The family relationships and toils were thrown at me all at once. "Your mother, the empress" is an example of what I'm talking about. The characters would know her title. Most of the dialogue served to inform me, rather to pull me in.

    I love the title and feel of this. Good luck.

  3. Loved the first paragraph, but then it seemed like the godfather and sorcerer were talking just to explain things to the reader. Overall, I ended up feeling like this was an unnecessary prologue. Also, you switched to present tense the second to the last sentence with "his lips begin trembling". Since this is all we get to see, I didn't know if that was a typo or a switch to present on purpose.

  4. The POV shifts around so much, I really couldn't get into the story. Plus, the character's voice doesn't strike me as unique at all, I'm afraid. Ditto on lillianamama's comment about slowing down the pacing on the transportation spell just a bit to let your readers catch up and sink into this world just a bit.

  5. Sorry, no. I don't feel connected to the characters yet, so I don't particularly care what happens to them. But I'm not overly fond of starting with fight scenes anyway, so it might be that :)

  6. Two problems kept me from sinking into this piece. First, I didn't connect with the characters at all. Instead of learning about their personalities and purposes, each of them felt like a contrivance to explain the plot. Second, I need to be invested in the characters to appreciate a battle. Here, it's just a bunch of people I don't know or like that much fighting with each other.

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  8. There's clearly serious conflict here right at the beginning, and that's a good thing, but I'm having trouble keeping the characters straight, and figuring out what they all want, and occasionally even picturing what's going on, (imagining the demon, for example, was difficult). Obviously that's less good.

    I'm also wondering about the relationship between the narrator and Raphael--they share a godfather, but have they met? If so, why doesn't the narrator recognize Raphael right off? And if the sorceror is just a hooded figure in the first paragraph, how can the narrator see his look of contempt when the demon is summoned?

    I think there are a couple places where you could do more with less. I think it might be stronger just to say "the demon appeared" and let us figure out from the staff being lifted in the previous line that it was summoned. Similarly, I'm not sure "trapped by a mysterious force" adds much.

    Still, I'd like to know how the narrator and Elson fare in the next bit. I'd be even more interested if I had a stronger sense of who the narrator is--perhaps more reaction to what he's (she's?) seeing earlier on?

  9. Unfortunately, I was actively "un" hooked by this one. I could not tell who I was supposed to be paying attention to- Lord Elson? Someone named Raphael? A demon? The narrator seems to be getting the least attention. I also found the dialogue to be much to explain-y and it didn't feel authentic. I would work on weeding out the unnecessary elements, and focusing on what really makes this story and character what they are.

  10. The good: Something is definitely going on here. There's pain, there's a ferocious wind, and the MC has been transported to a place with a sorcerer.

    The maybe-needs-some-work: I felt like there were a number of fantasy cliches in here. Now, one thing I've noticed about cliches is that they do show up in newly published works, so they must work for some people, but my brain kind of shuts down when I see things I've seen many times before. The twisted snake staff. The attacking demon. The red eyes.

    There was a lot of "But you know this, Bob." Dialogue that felt heavy handed because it is meant to inform the reader of some relationship. "Your mother, the empress" "Even if you're my godfather".

    You have some passive wording (a demon WAS SUMMONED, for example), a typo (raised his staff in defensive as the demon), and in some ways you're telling rather than showing (he was on the verge of death).

    I think there's probably a great idea in here, and I bet there's a lot of action in the story, but perhaps a bit more honing would help. :-)

  11. No, sorry. There's too much crammed in here, I feel like it's on fast forward and the 'as you know, Bob' like dialogue was really distracting.

    Good luck,