Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Secret Agent #48

GENRE: YA Fantasy

The chains around her wrists jingled, echoing off the stone walls, a cheery sound out of place. If she closed her eyes and moved her arms again it would be as if she were listening to a wind chime, twittering in the breeze. But the cold metal was not a wind chime. It was a tether, a leash, holding her captive in the belly of her city.

She could have called it her room, for it was where she slept, where she ate. The situation would seem more bleak once the drugs wore off, sending her into a depression of why she even bothered to live.

She had no choice, that was why. They needed her and refused to let her die. They kept her down there in an almost comatose state until it was time for her to work her magic.


The cell swayed and whirled, like a small boat in the ocean. A state she was so used to it felt more real than normal. She never smiled. That had been stolen long ago. But if she did it would be in this dreamlike existence.

Scraping of the heavy wooden door down the hall caused her head to float up, searching for the person among the sea of swirling colors. The large blur was who she expected and though she knew she should feel something, she was unable to summon emotion.

“It is time again, girl. Your people need you.”


  1. That first paragraph is awesome. I love comparing the sound of her chains to wind chimes, then saying they are a leash. This is a great first page.

  2. Chilling and intriguing. No time wasted on exposition, just throws you right into the place and lets you figure it out as it goes. Definitely captures a mood. Would absolutely read more.

  3. I like the juxtaposition of the cell and chains with the tinkling of wind chimes. Would like to see the layer removed, and let us connect with her depression rather than being told about it. I'd remove "literally" just to eliminate the cliche. The second-to-last sentence reads a little awkwardly, but the last line is a great hook. I'd read more.

  4. I'm intrigued by this, and I like all the comparisons of what should be rather than what is. The one thing that felt jarring to be was at the end where her head floated up. I would prefer a different word here, because floating infers a lightness, and this is anything but light and airy.

  5. My heart goes out to her in her imprisoned state. And at the end of excerpt, Your people need you--I'm hooked.

  6. I love the title and it seems to fit well. I'd omit "literally" because we'll get that later in the story. And we start off with a "cheery sound" but she never smiles. She's unable to summon emotion. Couldn't she at least remember what it was like to care?

    Overall, nicely done.

  7. I love your descriptions. You really know how to paint the picture and bring in all the five senses! Perfect :)

  8. Love this opening! It's really tight and very descriptive!! I like "Literally" in there. For me, it tweaks things a bit and raises questions to keep me wanting to read on! Nice!! :D

  9. I’m not sure what grabs a young adult reader. If this were written for adults, it would be more terse, as in:

    “The chains around her wrists echoed off the stone walls, mocking her with their cheery sound. If she closed her eyes it would be like listening to a wind chime, jingling in a stray breeze. But the cold metal was a tether, a leash holding her captive in the belly of her city.”

    But the other people posting on your entry like how you wrote it.

  10. I was with you all through the first paragraph, but the following line threw me:

    "She could have called it her room, for it was where she slept, where she ate."

    Otherwise, this is great!

  11. I loved the sound of the chains compared to the tinkling of wind chimes--excellent!

    There were some spots where you were telling the reader what you wanted them to know rather than showing(the issue about the depression).

    I agree with some of the others I'd remove "literally".

  12. I love the first line. The entire first paragraph is great and I'm definitely hooked because I so want to know where this is going.
    But I don't think you need all of the next few paragraphs. I think paring it down and getting straight to the action might improve the pace a bit.
    Good luck.

  13. A very effective opening that provokes questions in the reader's mind. It could possibly be further pared down and made tighter as has already been suggested. I likewise found the word "float" to be a bit out of place - it is a happy word. But, on the other hand, you have said that she was in a near comotose state so perhaps it is an accurate representation. Try and think of some synonyms that are darker. Anyway, a very good start that would make me turn the page.

  14. Hi, author. Love the title.

    As I was reading the first line, I imagined the chains as being frail, given that they jingled. As I read on, and it became apparent that she was captive, it made me wonder whether another word, perhaps clanged, might give the impression of the chains being bulky enough to restrain somebody.

    Then it made we wonder why somebody locked in a cell needed to be chained anyway, unless they were being tortured as well (ie, hung upside down).

    I felt the second and third paras were info-dumps.

    I liked the descritpion of whirling and swaying in the cell. The part about not smiling felt like you were stepping out of POV, as most people smile unconsciously - she would have been more aware of her inner state (empty? Aching? furious?) than whether or not she smiled.

    This opening seems to be covering similar territory to Taharea (sp?)Mafi's Shattered. Are you familiar with that book?

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  16. Oooh, I love what's coming up! Beautifully descriptive! And you've now got a Shatter Me comparison too :) Good luck Kelley!!!

  17. Is it actually a Shatter Me comparison, or a warning against being seen as a cheap knock off?

  18. The first paragraph is beautiful. I wish you had kept this voice; the touch of beauty or hope in a bleak surrounding. It would give the reader more reason to root for her.

    The last line is a great hook.