Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #28

TITLE: The Princess of Panchala

Demie knew she wasn’t dead, at least she didn’t think so. Not that she was any expert at the age of thirteen, but she figured being dead was like being crazy. If you can ask whether you are, then you probably aren’t.

With death ruled out, that meant she must be dreaming. Except she felt far too awake. Maybe some idiot slipped her something, like what happened to Jenny last summer. If so, it messed her up pretty bad because Demie was having an out-of-body experience, with no sense of time, no idea of how she came to be there. And, gnawing at the back of her mind like a pet gerbil in a cage, was the hunch that her sister Kori was in some kind of trouble.

Floating in stone-cold darkness, Demie was alone and confused.

Then she noticed them, suspended in the dark, staring at her. Glowing, but fuzzy and nebulous. Creepy eyes. Cheshire Cat in Wonderland eyes. They didn’t move toward her, but Demie perceived this thing looking over her, groping within her. It was reading through every secret thought and emotion, as if reading through her diary.

She wanted to run. But when she tried to move her arms she felt nothing. No sensation of any sort. As if she didn’t have limbs at all. That thought set off a wave of panic which almost overwhelmed her. Whatever the hell this thing was, Demie realized it tried to take her and had taken Kori.


  1. Hello!

    You have a really interesting start here. I particularly love the last two lines of the first paragraph--it conveys some voice, and it made me smile. I also liked the Cheshire Cat reference, which created a particularly powerful image.

    Now one nit-picky things: throughout your first 250 words you have a lot of sentence fragments. While this can help to create a quick pace and reflect certain voices, I thought it was a little overdone in the last paragraph. To me, it read a little choppy, and while I'm not suggesting you remove all sentence fragments in that paragraph, I think you could make it flow a little better by combining a couple sentences.

    Finally, I didn't understand how Demie knew that her sister was in danger, or that the thing looking at her had taken Kori. Those two revelations (both in the second and last paragraphs) seemed to come out of nowhere, and I kept asking but how does she know?

    Overall I think you've got a great start and I wish you the best of luck! :)

  2. I liked the voice and pace...

    However, this page is riddled with was' ... this creates a very passive element in the prose. If you chose more active word you prose will be more intersting.

  3. I love the first two paragraphs. Really love them. They are intriguing and you feel an empathy for Demie. I think this is a strong opening.

    The only concern I have is the last paragraph. I'm not sure if I follow her last sentence. For some reason the tense bothers me. Demie realized it tried to take her and had taken Kori. Isn't it in the process of trying to take her? vs. having already tried? And does she realize all of this or is it still really just a hunch?

    I'm wondering if instead you could say (and have it mean what you want it to mean:)

    Whatever the hell this thing was, Demie had a feeling it wanted to take her. Had it already taken Kori?

    I would like to read more:)

  4. Oooh I really love this and particularly the whole Alice-In-Wonderland feel.

    Her thoughts are a tiny bit disjointed, which I'd totally expect from someone waking up in this situation, but as a reader it does make it a little difficult going in places!

    You've done a great job of incorporating just the right amount of backstory to give us a sense of the MC and her past, and again the whole Alice feel is great. I'd read on!

  5. I love this and would definitely read on. Just a few little things:

    -- ...Demie perceived this thing looking over her...
    This seemed a little vague to me. Can you be more specific about what she's feeling?
    --I agree with Kristi about the last sentence.

  6. I really liked how it began and the voice is great. But yeah, the sudden revelation comes out of nowhere and doesn't make any sense at all given her circumstances. To me, it looks like the thing already had her... I mean, she's not really in control of herself at this moment.

    The other thing that bothered me is that there's a rational breakdown of what could be going on. She concludes it's a dream, so I've got no reason to question that. But when I'm presented with a long dream sequence, I tend to automatically discount all the tension. It's not real, there's no actual danger. Whatever happens is going to end up being some vague foreshadowing that "there's danger ahead somewhere!"

    Make this not a dream. She'd have thought it was a dream except that she felt far too awake for that... or make it a dream-reality, where I understand that what happens here is real and important. But as worded, I think it's just a very vivid dream.

    (Is thirteen a bit young for YA?)

  7. Overall, I really liked the voice and I would definitely be interested in seeing what happened. That being said, I was a little confused by the last line. If she's not 100% aware of what's happening, did she just remember it had taken Kori? And I got the impression she was already taken. Very nice start, though.

  8. I enjoyed this opening. It was quick and exciting and you got a sense of the girl's character. I have to agree that the last paragraphs are a little vague. How does she know these things? How is she remembering that it took her sister? Or does she just think it took her? It sounds very definite, though.