Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Secret Agent #24

TITLE: The Witch's Garden
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Magic was overrated. What Zellie really needed was a new way to braid her hair.

Letting it hang freely wasn’t an option. It got everywhere, snagging on furniture and doorknobs, a terrible nuisance. She didn’t spare a thought on the possibility of cutting it; it was the best way she could help protect the garden. So she would just have to keep trying new braiding techniques until she found something that held for more than a few hours and didn’t leave strands of hair sticking out all over.

Zellie eyed herself in the mirror, face framed by unruly cascades of yellow. Mother had taught her the basic braid form when she was six years old, sitting before this very mirror. She didn’t have much patience for it herself, grumbling about snarls and tangles, chiding Zellie to stop squirming and squealing. So Zellie started doing the braiding herself as soon as she learned how.

She could try braiding it in layers. One on top, two or three more beneath. She began dividing her hair into sections and weaving them together. The familiar motions were comforting. Whenever she was frustrated or annoyed, nothing could soothe her as well as a few minutes of braiding.

With a final flick of the last strands, Zellie examined the finished product. Still not quite what she was aiming for. She’d try again tomorrow. If she spent too much time staring in a mirror she started to imagine she was seeing things that weren't in the room behind her.


  1. I love the opening sentence, it pulled me right in. But I think the act of braiding her hair went on a little too long. The first pass I completely missed the reference to the "garden", and the last sentence seemed forced in there to reach your point. I would consider cutting, and when you reach the first mention of the "garden," tell us a little more about it. Good luck!

  2. I was hooked with the first line. Great job.

  3. I like the opening, but there is a lot of detail on the braiding. I would like to know more about the garden. I would read on. Good luck!

  4. I also thought the first line was great, but then the narrative got bogged down with too much description of braiding and not enough story.

  5. Is this a Rapunzel retelling? This sounds great!

  6. Oh, a Rapunzel story- that would make sense- but still, the braiding went on too long. I agree with whoever said to tell us more about the garden. And I also liked the first line.

  7. I like this. Your opening is intriguing and sets a scene immediately. I feel like your 3rd paragraph should be condensed or taken out- it distracts from the forward momentum. One or two lines saying what braids/methods she has tried already would suffice, with a quick reference back to her mother. Can you give us more foreshadowing of how her hair is connected to the garden?- that's the real catch here as well as 'seeing things that weren't in the room behind her'. Focus on the immediacy of a scene and its ability to move the story forward.

    I would really like to see more.

  8. Great first line. If the title is THE WITCH’S GARDEN, we need more than just a brief mention of the garden. Or at least make that brief mention more significant. I think the second, third and fourth paragraphs should be trimmed and combined into two.

    Lots of good questions here, I think you’ve hooked your reader well.

  9. I suspect this is a retelling of Rapunzel. You might have difficulties finding a home after Disney's brilliant take on the story -- but I like it.