Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #37

GENRE: MG Fantasy

Prince Agmund burst through the iron gate, tripped over a tree’s massive root, and then flew, arms flailing, until he slapped the ground. Smacking his lips like a fish out of water, he inched onto hands and knees until he could breathe freely. Yes, he was in trouble, so escape was essential, but he didn’t have to run, and he doubted anyone would interrupt a visit with his mother. The simple round stone wasn’t far outside the castle gardens, but no one knew he went there.

Cold air stung his face, and he covered what he could while he fought against the wind. When he reached the spot, he dropped down, gathering his knees to his chest. An icy gust rummaged through his curls, and he closed his eyes letting his mind wander back in time. Smiling, he touched the stone, but the damp coldness was a painful reminder—his mother couldn’t help him with his father any longer.

He heard shuffling behind him. “Yer Highness, Balthasar is lookin’ for yeh.”

They did know where to look for him. “Tell him I’ll be there shortly.”

“Aye, Yer Highness.”

His lesson … he forgot. This wasn’t the first time, and it probably wouldn’t be the last, but his father was joining them.

The maidservant hugged her cloak and scurried back to the castle while Agmund stood.

“So, King Ulrich Kingston’s son is a muddle-brained twit,” he announced.

Bud tipped branches bobbed in agreement, and he could almost hear his mother laughing.


  1. This sounds like a fun story, but I had some trouble connecting with Prince Agmund--I think because I didn't have a very good idea of what was happening. I know he's in trouble, and I certainly don't need to know every detail about why from page 1, but I think it would help to get a sense of how severe the trouble is. Is he running for his life or just hoping to avoid an uncomfortable situation? There were also a couple of word choices that threw me out of the story (ex. "rummaged" through his curls)

  2. I like the voice here, and it sounds like a fun story. Your main character is really interesting already.

    You have a few long sentences that feel like run ons that you should consider breaking up a bit especially since it's middle grade. The one that tripped me up the most was the 3rd sentence in the first paragraph.

    I'd want to read on to find out what else was going to happen to the Prince. I feel bad for him already!

  3. Maybe this is a strange suggestion, but I would leave Agmund's title off in that first sentence. Just call him "Agmund". We'd feel closer to him, and when he is revealed to be the King's son at the end of the passage, it has a little more kick. This clumsy, doubting fellow is a Prince? Oh my!

  4. I actually liked the use of "rummaged". I wasn't sure about slapping the ground (for me that conjures an image of a hand) or smacking his lips though (why would someone do that when they have trouble breathing?).

    Also, mentioning that he's in trouble mde me think that he was feeling pursuit or something active, not just a forgotten lesson. Is there more going on there?

    I feel sorry for the poor prince, though. Already I get the sense that his father's a bully.

  5. I think there's tons of potential here. You have a nice way with words and some gorgeous imagery (e.g., "bud tipped branches bobbed in agreement," "hugged her coat and scurried"). My challenge with the first 250 is that it's confusing. There seems to be too many unanswered questions right off the bat. Is his mother dead-i.e., the stone? Is he running because he forgot the lesson or some other reason? Also, I think he's talking to himself in the sentence beginning, "So, King Ulrich . . ." but I'm not entirely sure. If he's trying to get some alone time by the stone, maybe you could start the story there and ground us for a few paragraphs before bringing in the maidservant.

  6. I liked what Charlotte said. Good start and it sounds like the adventure is just beginning. I see conflict and a likable character. Good start!

  7. Very nice use of verbs here! Most are strong and specific.

    The opening gives the sense that the MC is running for his life, and then it turns out to be regular kid trouble. He also decides he doesn’t need to run, which makes me wonder why he is running. And if no one would interrupt a visit with his mother, why didn’t he visit her in the first place? Why doesn’t he do that now instead of going to the stone?

    In parg two, he is suddenly facing a fierce wind that wasn’t there before. Where did it come from? When did it start blowing? Transition it in.

    When he reached the spot – what spot? The stone? The place where his mother is? Or is his mother in the same place as the stone? None of this was clear to me.

    Then he remembers he forgot his lesson. So that wasn’t the reason he was running away? If not, what was? As you can see, I’m having a hard time figuring out what’s happening here, as well as why it’s happening. Maybe revise for clarity but, if you do, don't lose the strong verbs in the rewriting.

  8. You have some fun language here. I really liked the "smacking his lips like a fish out of water" and the servant's dialogue. However, like others said, I was a bit confused after the servant comes and speaks to him. Did he return to the castle? I didn't understand why everyone was laughing at him. A minor quibble, wouldn't he say "lessons" instead of lesson? The voice and language is well suited to this age group and I think this could be an interesting read.

  9. I might change the tile. It’s not very exciting, and readers might not know how to pronounce it. I found this excerpt to be very confusing; I had to read it several times to even have a remote sense of what was happening. Rather than leaving me with questions for which I wanted answers, it just left me confused, so I was not at all hooked.

  10. I enjoyed this. You did use a lot of great language; however, I think it came off clunky in places, possibly because you were over-focusing much on description, and so it was easy to get confused about what was occurring in the action.

    I did like Agmund's voice--he sounds like a bit of a good natured smarty pants, and I wanted to know how he got himself in trouble.