Wednesday, September 9, 2009

16 Secret Agent

TITLE:Secret Knowledge
GENRE:YA Fantasy

Tonight Mossy would stand by the Lammas’ fire. She would recite the words, take the candle, then walk into the darkness alone. Tonight everything would change. Tonight she would find her future . . .

Mossy blew out a breath and pushed herself from a jog to a lope. One thing was certain, if she didn’t stop worrying about tonight and start focusing on running, her future wouldn’t include varsity cross-country.

A pair of varsity runners passed Mossy on her left. She willed her legs to move faster, but her muscles tightened and she dropped to the back of the pack. By the time she reached where the jogging path started up the forested hill, she was a good fifty yards behind the team.

As the other runners disappeared over the hill’s crest, Mossy stopped running and hunched over in the middle of the path, hands on her knees, dizziness pulling in around her as she struggled to catch her breath. Of all days, why did practice have to start today?

The thud of a runner’s footsteps came back down the hill toward her. “You okay?” Bethany’s voice asked.

Mossy looked up at her older sister. “I feel like I’m going to puke.”

“I told you to pace yourself.”

“That’s not it.” Mossy took a gulp of air to steady her voice. “I keep thinking about tonight.”

“Why don’t you skip the rest of practice?” Bethany nodded at the forest, indicating the direction of their house. “Take the short cut home.”


  1. Not really hooked. I think I would drop the first paragraph. It feels a bit like it was just thrown in at the last minute to attempt to heighten suspense. Starting with the next paragraph would be better in my opinion. I don't love the name choice of the MC but that may just be me.

  2. Not quite hooked. I don't think it has enough tension.

  3. I'm somewhat intrigued. After the first paragraph, I wasn't expecting the modern setting. I think I like the juxtaposition between the ancient-sounding ritual and cross-country practice.

    I do agree that there could be more tension. What are the stakes for the protagonist if things don't work out tonight? I think that's what we need to see more of.

  4. Yes, hooked. At least, I want to know what she dreads, what will happen to her.

  5. Hmm. I think this is written really well, and has great potential. Perhaps you have just started at the wrong moment of the story?

  6. Another vote for dropping the first paragraph, or placing it after Mossy says she's thinking about that night.

    I'm almost hooked, and wonder if shorter sentences would better match the tempo when Mossy's running:

    A pair of varsity runners passed Mossy. She willed her legs to move faster but dropped to the back of the pack. By the time she reached the hill, she was fifty yards behind the team.

  7. I liked the first paragraph. I thought it instantly set up the fantasy aspect of the story. But knowing it was a fantasy, I immediately thought she was a werewolf when in the next parg. she was loping. I was surprised to find she was a humn running cross country.

    I'd keep reading to find out what she'd be facing that night, and probably make a decision there. The writing's good enough that I wouldn't feel I'd be disappointed.

  8. I was hooked!

    I thought Mossy and Bethany were odd names for a pair of sisters--they don't seem to "go" together. But I loved the situation here. The juxtaposition of cross-country and the mystery of tonight worked for me, too.

  9. Not hooked, sorry.

    One: Bethany's VOICE didn't ask. Benthany did. I know what you're trying to do there, I do it sometimes in my first drafts and cut it by the second, but I think you should just have: Bethany asked.

    Two: Wouldn't it be runners' footsteps, not runner's?

    Three: Why would her sister tell her to walk through a forest if she's feeling unwell? I don't know about anyone else, but I'd never tell my sister (younger or older) to walk through a forest even if they are feeling all right.

    Four: The transition from the first paragraph to the second one seems a bit jumpy to me.

    Also, I can't remember what this is called, but a lot of the sentence structure is the same, making it sound repetative. (Could just be my opinion)

    And last but not least: five: In the third paragraph I'd split the first sentence in to two. Example, '... middle of the path, hands on her knees. Dizziness pulled in around her...' (or something like that.)

    Hope that helped. Sorry if anyone else has mentioned this, but I didn't read the other comments first.

  10. Not quite hooked. I enjoyed the story but I haven't seen anything that makes me think this is related to fantasy. I sense it might be coming in the next few paragraphs and would probably read a bit further to see what's happening tonight.

  11. The name Mossy and the unknown awkward name Lammas made for a rough start. Maybe skip the first paragraph?

    Not clear why it is so bad that practice started today ...

    Maybe too many details about running before the actual story begins.

    Just didn't grab me, although the writing seems fine. Maybe if tightened a bit ...

  12. The transition from scary occult ritual to cross country practice is awkward and caused me to lose interest. As a fan of fantasy, I would keep reading to learn about the ritual. But I think this first 250 words could use some re-thinking.

  13. This is a good example of where preference comes into play. I love running and the whole tonight thing hooked me. I was intrigued. I'd read on.

  14. I like the concept of a ritual and then the shift to the modern setting, but the rest of it didn't grab me. I'd be more inclined to start the story right before the ritual and skip the rest . . . unless something happens when she walks through the woods and then I'd start it there.

    The MC name bothers me. I picture a bunch of moss on a tree log or rock or something and I can't get past it. Maybe it's just me, but I think MGers would have a hard time with that name/image as well.

    I do want to know what the ritual is for/about, but based on this much, I wouldn't keep reading.

  15. Your words created a vivid scene in my head.

    Not hooked, but a nice start to the hook if there's something dangerous in the woods.....I think the 250 word limit was hard to boil down for your particular scene

  16. I'd keep reading.

  17. I agree about Mossy, not a good MC name, unless it's short for something. I like the abrupt switch to the modern world. Her sensations when running could be more vivid, not just tightening muscles, burning, knotting. If this is a caring sort of big sister, I would think she'd give more sympathy.

  18. I used to be a cross-country runner, so maybe that nudges me towards reading on a little since I have something in common with the MC.

    I like the anticipation and like that first paragraph where it is. Without it, I might not have wanted to read on at all. As it stands, I'd read on for more.

  19. I enjoyed the voice of this.

    There's enough happening to keep me reading and wondering what is to happen tonight.

    I would start with the second paragraph though.