Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #11

TITLE: Darkweave
GENRE: YA Steampunk Fantasy

The ivy-twined iron gates stood closed again tonight. Though I’d come to this cemetery for the past year, its Guardian still demanded my respect. I knocked three times on the gate, acknowledging his presence and mentally greeted him. In my mind he finally responded with my name: Idonea.

The gates protested as I pushed them open. Rust flaked away when my hands withdrew. As I passed the threshold, I dropped three silver scales on the ground as payment. I faced forward so the Guardian knew my intentions weren’t sinister, like usual. All I needed was grave dirt. I thought we had enough, but my mother Nellith insisted.

Light from the crescent moon and stars filtered down through the thin layers of steam blanketing the town and the numerous pine trees. The scent of pine mixed in with the heavy air, and I wiped a thin film of mist from my goggles.

By nature’s light I stepped carefully past the headstones. Giving more than a cursory glance at any particular epitaph would invite unwanted attention. I stopped at an old grave with a large winged messenger statue, mildew discolouring the white stone. Down on my knees, I pulled a small glass jar and hand shovel from my canvas bag.

I knocked three times on the exact spot I wanted to shovel and stated my intention. “I’m collecting this dirt for any future magical workings that call upon the virtues of the cemetery.”

With that necessity done I gathered the grave dirt I needed.


  1. Like! Good world-building -- not too much, or too confusing.

    One nit-pick in 2nd para, 4th sentence. I read it as saying her intentions were usually sinister. Did you mean to say they weren't? Maybe change to "so that the Guardian knew my intentions, as always, weren't sinister" ( or "were noble/honorable").

  2. Moving along well! However, I would suggest varying your sentence structure a bit- the words don't really flow together, and it all seems a bit choppy. (One part that especially stood out was the mental greeting at the beginning- if she's greeting the guardian mentally, it seems obvious that he would reply in kind? Also, why does he need to say his name?)

  3. The writing was solid for me. The world and events are interesting, but I have to admit I got a little tired of all the rules for entering the graveyard... I sort of felt like I'd fallen out of reading a scene and more into a how-to manual. It was interesting, but a little clinical for me. I'd rather some of those procedures been replaced with something that gives more insight into the MC and establishes her voice.

    Is this steampunk? I don't read a lot of steampunk, but I was imagining a pretty straight fantasy world right up until "goggles" reminded me we were in steampunk and that jarred me a little.

  4. What works in this piece is that it is very descriptive and there is a definite world we are being led into. However, it doesn't have much voice and I think part of the problem is that it is very "I" centric. Many sentences either start with "I" or the main fragments start with eye.

    I bet if you re-wrote this to eliminate the use of "I" as much as possible, you would find the writing much stronger, AND I bet you would see the "voice" emerge much more.

    Hope this helps!

  5. I really liked this. This is a strong opening with a nice balance of world building, which is clearly leading up to something interesting. I would keep reading for sure. Nice work!

  6. I am interested to read on, although I found the rules a bit much. I really felt you did a good job grounding the reader.

  7. I was a little confused at the beginning because the gates are closed, so I had assumed that they were locked. However, after the greeting, she is able to freely push open the gates.

    Also, as was mentioned before, I was thrown off when you say: I faced forward so the Guardian knew my intentions weren’t sinister, like usual. She has been there before, so why would the Guardian have any doubts about her intentions?

    Nice writing, and good start, though.