Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #16

TITLE: The White Prince and the Battle of Zion
GENRE: YA Fantasy

A breath of wind rustled the trees of the sleeping town. A sign that read Sunset Drive creaked eerily on the corner, and a piece of newspaper skimmed along the pavement to be lost in the blackness.

Hurried footsteps broke the silence of the night. The sound became louder and closer until a woman with a small bundle tucked carefully in her arms crested the small hill on Sunset Drive.

She appeared ordinary at first glance, with shiny brown hair that cascaded down past her shoulders and onto her back. She wore a hooded robe so faded and dirty the original color was impossible to tell. Her movements were jumpy, and her face bore an expression of panic and desperation; yet she still held herself with a sense of pride.

But it was her eyes that showed her true nature. Those shocking sky-blue eyes held within them secrets and memories and burdens far too much for a single person to bear. The eyes shone with a sense of knowing and understanding, but above all, determination. The eyes, so out of place on the youthful face, moved erratically from the street in front of her, to the bundle in her arms, to fleeting glances over her shoulder.

The woman passed from darkened window to darkened window, slowing only when she reached an alley sheltered from the soft glow of the streetlights. As she paused, catching her breath, her eyes continued to dart around, hurriedly examining her surroundings.


  1. I like this...but I'm having a hard time figuring out if this woman is the MC or if it's the bundle that's important...or if this is from someone else's perspective. With that being said I'm sure that the next few paragraphs might answer these questions so I'd continue to read just to get my curiosity sated.

  2. This piece is very atmospheric. I feel the urgency and the worry the woman feels. The intense blue eyes is an interesting feature, and of course I want to know who the baby is.

    You might over-do the descrip of the eyes in the 4th paragraph though. It seems awfully repetitive to me. Also - the two close uses of Sunset Dr., maybe get rid of one.

    It's a little reminiscent of Harry Potter, too - isn't it? The cloaked, different type of person in a modern setting with a bundle? Just a thought.

    You've got some fun elements to work with though - good luck with this and thanks for sharing!

  3. Great atmosphere in this piece. I'd read on--but I'd also hope to find something different from your standard fantasy prologue. (It does remind me strongly of Harry Potter.) I'd also want to know who the main character is (because of the distant viewpoint and YA genre, I assume it isn't the adult woman sneaking around). But I assume that comes with the rest of the chapter. Good start with well-fleshed-out setting!

  4. The first thing I thought was that it was very much like the opening of Harry Potter. It has an air of mystery as well as mood and tone.

    I did think you spent too long on the woman's blue eyes and could probably cut that a bit. The same with her wandering the streets. I wanted her to get where she was going before you came to the end of your 250 words.

    But I did get a sense of your world and liked it enough to read on. I feel like you'll deliver the goods.

  5. Interesting, but uneven. Can be tightened. Here's a big mistake: But it was her eyes that showed her true nature. You don't want to TELL the reader this - just show it. Delete this sentence altogether.

  6. I think this story has a stronger start with "Hurried footsteps broke the silence of the night."

    I would cut out the third and fourth paragraph since they have unnecessary description and telling. The real story and mystery is this woman holding this child. Describing her takes the reader out of the mystery and the heart of your opening hook.

    I would read on! :)

  7. I like the way you've taken a cliche and described it to the point that it isn't a stereotype anymore.
    I do think you might want to be careful about the narrative point of view. When you switch from environmental observance to weighted words (the emotional response to her eyes) you introduce another character who is witnessing the action. If you show this "watcher" later (or earlier) in the passage, there would be no confusion about how many people are in the scene.

  8. What I liked: The atmosphere, the descriptions, the confident writing.

    The narrative has an interesting quality that makes it feel like it’s someone observing the scene and letting the reader in on the details. I’d be interested to see if this could continue throughout.

    What needed work: Perhaps it’s the use of the word “bundle,” but I think we all assumed the woman is carrying a baby, and therefore the sample resembles other similar fantasy beginnings, among them Harry Potter. I’d love to be proven wrong and have the bundle be something else entirely.

    I liked the descriptions, but also agree we could see less of the woman’s eyes. It’s coming across as overkill.

    Would I keep reading based on these sample pages? Yes.