Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #16

TITLE: Ice Blue, Poison Green
GENRE: YA paranormal

It ends today, I tell myself, gazing over the carpet of trees stretching to the horizon. My fingers brush the crimson pendant at my throat in promise. No more killing. No more hiding. No more running.

Today's the day--the day the war with the Ferraras ends.

Isn't it?

"Zola, are you ready?" The speaker bows, his new tuxedo crackling through the starch. After gently folding my cloak, I accept his proffered forearm.

"Are you?"

He squeezes my hand. "You don't have to do this, Zee. We'll fight them. I'll help you fight them. You're going to be a great leader."

"Great leaders don't lead their men into battle for nothing."

He stops and twirls me around, gently wrapping his hands around my waist. "Great leaders don't do things just because they've never been tried before."

"He's our only chance, Connor! If I don't accept this...We're weaker than
we've ever been."

"So are they."

With a gloved hand, I brush his cheek. "Are you with me?"

He covers my hand with his, completely obscuring any hint of yellow silk. "Whatever you choose."


  1. Hmm. I'm mixed on this one. On the one hand, there's some tantalizing hints of this war with the Ferraras. And I like some of the descriptions. On the other hand, I'm not sure if you give quite enough information to keep your readers interested.

    It's a really tricky balance to reveal just the right amount at the right time. If you don't reveal enough, your readers get confused or frustrated. But if you reveal too much, there's no tension to keep them going. Here, I think you might be erring more on the side of too little information. But it's a subjective thing. It's also hard to say for sure without reading more.

    A few other things. If this is from Zola's first person perspective, it's inconsistent to refer to "the speaker" when she already knows his name. Calling him Connor straight off is fine. And present tense is always risky in fiction. You'll pulling it off all right so far, but I would seriously consider whether it's a stylistic choice that really benefits the story. Past tense usually allows for more nuance in conveying the timeline of a story.

  2. The idea of starting with a battle piqued my interest, but then it got muddled.

    "He stops and twirls me around, gently wrapping his hands around my waist. 'Great leaders don't do things just because they've never been tried before.'"

    I didn't understand that line. That sounds like a terrible reason to go into battle. And the next line doesn't go with it. The dialogue starts off with her doubts, he's trying to convince her, then she says that line and she's trying to convince him.

    Also, I don't like tags cluttering up a page, but this might benefit from a couple.

    With some reworking, this will be much stronger.

  3. My first impression is that this sounds like an alternate-world fantasy and not a paranormal. Your use of 'Zola' and then 'Zee' were a bit confusing--I wasn't sure if you were talking about the same person there, or two people.

    I can't say that I wouldn't read on, but neither can I say I'm hooked.

  4. I'm confused. I can't say I'm not a little intrigued, but mostly I am confused. The tone seems to jump around a little. They are talking of war and so the verb "twirls", which is light-hearted, doesn't work. And I am having a hard time seeing trees as carpet, even on a distant horizon. But with that said, I still want to know what is going on here so I would probably keep reading.

  5. I found this confusing. I wasn't sure what was going on. Although I was feeling like she might be marrying the enemy.

    Things like - A leader doesn't lead their men into battle for nothing. Is she saying the war isn't worth fighting? Or it's only worth fighting if you're going to win?

    It just seems a bit too vague. Perhaps more details could make it stronger.

  6. Some word choices here throw me:
    crimson pendant
    new tuxedo crackling through the starch
    proffered forearm
    yellow silk

    These are either uncommon phrases or perhaps unnecessary details that detract me. And this scene is a mite slow for a book's start. Look at the verbs: tell, brush, bows, accept, squeezes, stops, twirls, brush, covers.

    I'm, er, a trifle bored. I sense there's a good story here, but it feels hidden.

    Too many scene details without us knowing what's going on, I fear.

  7. The beginning was strong, but diffused as soon as the tuxedo-clad fellow arrived--also became a bit confusing--are they headed into battle or a dance or? Interesting, but too much general vague statements like, "So are they."

  8. Thanks for posting your work on such a public form. That takes guts.

    I like the set-up--the warrior-girl and her tuxedo-wearing follower--but a couple of things stopped me. "The speaker bows"--that always suggests to me that the narrator doesn't know who the speaker is, yet immediately we realize that he knows her name, is some sort of confidant, and that his name is Connor.

    I also wasn't a big fan of the "isn't it?" "are you?" dyad.

    I think you need to get a little more into your MC's head. I think you're close. Good luck!

  9. I found myself a bit perplexed. I think what particularly tripped me up was "the speaker", which I'd think would be a stranger or an enemy, but then turns out to be somebody she knows well.

    I am curious enough to continue, but I agree with what has been said above.