Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #31

TITLE: Lau Dai Lá
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

As Linh descended the stairs, strange sounds came from the living room.

She looked around; her mother wasn’t home. Eeek! Eeek!

Probably mice. This didn’t stun her. She’d grown used to hearing those horrible little rodents scuttling inside the clogged drainpipes at school. Likely they’d come out because of her house’s currently clogged drain.

Then she heard thumps within the wall.

These couldn’t be mice—unless their tiny feet had grown overnight. Unless they were giants. She tiptoed toward the sound and tried to pinpoint its source, but saw nothing. Stepping toward the window, she pulled away the long, lacey curtains. Her heart seized.

A narrow door stood beneath the window.

Linh couldn’t believe her eyes. Had this small door always existed there, right beside the back door? Why would she never have noticed? She bent down, knocked on the mystery door, and waited.

One minute. Three. The sounds had stopped.

Linh placed a trembling hand on the doorknob; it felt solid and rough. Slowly, she opened the door—and with another hard squeeze of her heart, walked through it.

She found herself gazing at another world: the sun beaming down on a colorful, spacious backyard—so unlike a gray, Irish summer day in Dublin. She blinked: she wasn’t daydreaming.

She stepped into the different landscape, full of warmth and light, her heart thumping with excitement. Plump mushrooms and lush green shrubs grew on each side of the yard. On her left, a field of flowers—daffodils, roses, tulips, and sunflowers—carpeted the ground.


  1. Great opening. I felt like it moved a little fast, though. She didn't hesitate or deliberate at all about walking through a strange door, which I think most people would.

  2. What fun. Maybe separate out the "eek" sounds to give them more emphasis. Also, you might want to consider making the curtains a thicker material since she lives there and never noticed the door before. Since she does live there, you could have her react more to this great surprise.

  3. Like the first commenter I felt this moved too fast.

    Who is Linh and why is she home alone?

    Also, to me it doesn't make sense that she would knock and then wait. If the door is under a window then it would lead outside. Does she think someone is waiting outside her house to answer the knock? I am fine with this being a fantasy but you still have to arrive there logically. KWIM?

    Once she is in the other world the descriptions are great and I am curious to see what this is all about!

  4. Interesting start. It feels like Alice in Wonderland, which is good, but I hope in a fresh, unique way! You're a great writer! I love the plump mushrooms and lush green shrubs. Very pretty~ <3

  5. This is fine, and I'd keep reading, but I agree with prior comments that I'd like to see a bit more reaction from Linh to finding a strange door in her house. I also wonder if you could slip in a bit more information about what "normal" is for Linh, for stronger contrast with the discovery of the door. By plunging the reader into the unusual straight away, it loses a bit of "wow!" factor for the reader.

  6. I like the premise of the story, and the similarity to Alice in Wonderland. That said, it felt like the first half of the passage got off to a rocky start in terms of flow and voice, but I think a lot of that would be fixed by slowing it down as others would suggest. Great start!

  7. I agree with the comments above, the pace was too fast. I didn't know enough about your MC to figure out why she wouldn't hesitate to open that door and step through.
    The premise seems interesting!

  8. I'm wondering is Linh an Irish name, and is this going to take place in Ireland? I would like that.

    This is a great idea, but I do agree I'd like to get to know Linh a little, and what her world is like now, before she enters a new one. Is she getting away from something?

  9. Thanks for your feedback everyone, I appreciate it!

    No, Linh isn't an Irish name.

  10. When I first read the title and the character's name, I got excited because I thought this story might take place in a foreign country. But we don't see much of hte exotic in this first 250 except for the fantasy element.
    Give us a little of Linh's world first - maybe in short quips about her furniture, house, clothes, something that makes her different.

    I was also a little confused when she walked through the door. I had imagined it a really small door since it was under a window. Was this a really large window?

    I think you have a start to something really interesting here. Good luck with it and thanks for sharing it :)

  11. While reading this, I assumed Linh was an asian girl and I pictured her so, but then at the end you put she is from Ireland which threw me off.
    I also had to read the sentence one minute.Three.The sounds had stopped a few times. It felt awkard.
    I am a sucker for portals and discoveries of new worlds so I would continue reading.
    The elements are here for a wild ride of a story.

  12. I'd probably move "Eeek! Eeek!" to the end of the first paragraph, and delete the 2nd paragraph.

    And I did have a moment of confusion when Linh walked through what had been described as a narrow, small door, one she had to bend down to knock on. Wouldn't she crawl?

    But I'm curious about the source of the noise, and I'd probably read more.