Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #6

TITLE: The Princess Protection Agency
GENRE: YA Fantasy

A huge horse thundered down the road, clouds of dust billowing in its wake. Farmers and traders scrambled out of the way to avoid being trampled. Carts overturned and livestock scattered.

"Who rides a horse that fast? Is there some war I don't know about?" Evelyn asked, glaring at the approaching rider.

"I wish," Ruby said, her hand moving to her axe at the mention of conflict.

"Who cares? It's some buffoon acting stupid," Ingrid said. She gnawed her bottom lip as her gaze flicked between Evelyn and the rider.

"It's rude. There's no reason to ride like a maniac," Ruby said, rising to her feet. Ingrid shot her an angry look.

"We need to let him know he should be more considerate of Norland's citizens," Evelyn said. She pulled her hunting knife from the boar they'd felled and wiped it on the grass.

"I don't think so. If I had to guess, I'd say he's very considerate. A real peach," Ingrid said. Still, her hand settled on the wand at her side.

"Don't be a coward. We can teach him manners," Evelyn said.

"It's dangerous. We should stay here in the grass," Ingrid said.

"It's okay. I promise not to hurt him too bad." Evelyn smiled as she stepped onto the road.

The horse headed straight toward her, nostrils flaring. The rider bent over the saddle and urged his steed faster. He sneered and made no move to change the horse's course. The dirt road trembled beneath its hooves.


  1. Evelyn and Ruby are willing to get into a knife fight because it's rude to ride a horse so quickly? I get a sense that something else is going on here, and it would be nice to get a hint of what that is. Of course, this could become clear in the next couple of sentences, and I would read on to find out what's behind their aggression.

  2. The contrast between the girls' modern names and chatty conversation, and the obviously high fantasy setting makes me giggle. Nice title, too!

  3. You caught me at the beginning. I liked the image of the horse crashing through the town. And as you introduced the three girls, it becomes clear this will be a humorous story. I was eager to read more. (I loved Ruby reaching for her axe.)

    But then the girls just went on too long. The sentences were all the same style and you never went to back to the horse, showing it getting closer and closer, which would have built up some tension. By the end, you lost me. I wouldn't read on.

    Perhaps break up all the girls' comments with a bit of description here and there (like the bit about the boar) that lets us know where they are and how the rider is progressing. And maybe change up the sentence structure of their dialogue a bit. This is YA, and all those simple declarative sentences made it feel like I was reading and easy reader.

  4. I would've liked to know who was all in this scene at the beginning, or at least before the next person started talking so I could have a sense of who these girls are. As is, someone new is introduced in the first couple of paragraphs without much interaction with the other characters.

  5. I'd like to get an idea of where the girls are and what they're doing before they start talking. I had to think for a few seconds to figure out they're hunting. Other than that, great story. I'd read on.

    One thing you might want to keep in mind is that Disney recently made a movie called The Princess Protection Program. That was the first thing I thought of when I read your title.

  6. I also immediately thought of Princess Protection Program. I like the strong female characters but it gets confusing with the back and forth dialog. I don't understand how they felled a boar in the middle of town. Wouldn't she have pulled out the knife earlier if they'd killed it elsewhere? I do want to know what's going to happen. Don't hurt the horse, though!

  7. I think you need to change the way you present the conversation here. The topic is interesting, but I was bored by the structure. Start some sentences with action to tell us who's speaking rather than "said...". Also, to add tension, you should keep going back to the horse, growing nearer and nearer, becoming more and more threatening.

  8. I didn't have any idea who the mc was. It seemed like a group, and it's hard to get into a group's head or to feel sympathy for them. I thought the characters were a bit too modern for the setting. There was a conflict between Ingrid's passive words and the fact she reached for her wand, which seemed aggressive. I agree with the others about shortening the dialog and putting in more of the horse.

  9. Too much dialogue from too many people - not showing character or tension. Nothing here to keep me reading.

  10. Like some people above said, I felt there was too much dialogue for so early on. The image of the horse drew me in, and then I felt as though I was at a hair salon with a bunch of women chattering non-stop. I like the girls' attitude, though, but I think more description to break up the conversation would keep me drawn in.

  11. It started off interesting, then got bogged down in conversation about action. I got lost between who's talking as they all seemed to be repeating the same. I'd have liked to know what happened with the horse, though.

  12. I like the title. Unfortunately, I, too, thought there were too many people speaking, which made it hard to get into, but I like the writing. I would've loved to read some description about the rider because he seems important. I'd read on to find out who he is.

  13. What I liked: The potential humor, some of the little details.

    What needed work: Descriptions! The rider and the horse came across clearly, but I had a hard time picturing much else. What is the town like? We have farmers and traders dashing out of the way, which makes me think it’s a town, and then there’s a board they just killed? It was hard to get a sense of the setting. The characters, too, are not coming across very clearly.

    The sentence structure felt a little simple for something aimed at the YA market.

    Finally, I’m worried these three characters—one with a battleaxe (warrior), one with a wand (mage), one a hunter with a small knife (ranger?)—are going to be Dungeons and Dragons cardboard cutouts

    Would I read on based on these sample pages? Probably not.