Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #43

TITLE: The Black Flower
GENRE: YA Fantasy

A little girl and her mother stood beneath the burning desert sun. Sand-filled winds battered their skin and eyes. Breaths had to be taken slowly to tolerate the shimmering air rising from the ground. A grey rock formation nearby was the only landmark in the miles of hot, dry lakebed surrounding them.

The girl’s name was Amiria. At the age of five, she could almost disappear into the mass of tangled blonde hair spiraling down her back. The many strands of gold weaved into it sparkled as the wind blew through them. The emerald eyes she shared with her mother gleamed wildly beneath her pale eyebrows. Her clothing was little more than scraps of cloth sewn together crudely. Her tiny feet had no protection from the scalding ground.

After three days beneath that awful sun, Amiria was beyond thirsty. Her lips were cracked and bleeding. She couldn’t even spit to remove the sand coating the inside of her mouth. But since they’d arrived, she hadn’t complained, cried, or even whimpered. And didn’t intend to start.

Her raven-haired mother was dressed in regal battle attire—a silver breastplate over a lacy red shirt, with boots and pants of dark brown. A band of polished stone encircled her head. She shielded her eyes, looking out across the lakebed. Then, after wiping the sweat from her brow, she took a long drink from the leather flask she’d been holding.

“I will let you die out here,” her mother said.


  1. Wow! What a line to end it on! I'd want to keep reading!

    My only crtitique would be to reword this line:

    "The emerald eyes she shared with her mother gleamed wildly beneath her pale eyebrows."

    When I read that, I pictured them passing a set of eyes between the two of them. Lol ... I know what you meant, but I pictured one set of eyes ... shared.

  2. Whoa. Is mommy not sharing the water with the little girl? If I'm reading this correctly then that definitely makes you want to read on and find out why.

    That said, is this high fantasy? If so, my comments may be a little off base because I don't read high fantasy. This has a bit too many details/descriptions(for me). Generally this sort of exposition takes away from a story and takes me out of the story.

    Like I said, this is totally based on my reading habits and experience. I'll really be interested in what others have to say.

  3. Okay, to start with what an EXCELLENT hook in that last line. Brilliant. That would encourage me to move on.

    For critique, there's a LOT of description here. I feel weighed down with it. I prefer not to be told every character's description in detail before moving on with the story -- I enjoy it much more when it's mixed in with action, with things happening.

    the line 'The many strands of gold weaved into it sparkled as the wind blew through them.' particularly jarred for me. I think it should be 'woven' rather than 'weaved' (could be wrong) and it seemed wordy.

    Overall, I'd prefer it if the hook was moved up and there was more interaction/things happening, with the description mixed in.

    Really good work. :)

  4. That end line - wow! That is a story I want to know about! My suggestion would be to start as close to that line as possible, weaving in description as we go. Para 3 is where I started to feel the story, and I almost think that's a good place to start.

  5. Loved it! Unique story so far, and the writing is excellent. I would only say that it seems a sophisticated insight for a 5 year-old, but hey it's a fantasy so who knows

  6. Wow! This is just my personal opinion, but I love vivid descriptions. You have some powerful word choices, and like the others I was intrigued by the last line.

  7. I agree with many of the other comments; there is a lot of description/telling, but how does it help move the story forward? I liked the suggestion of moving the hook up, and then move on. I am definitely interested in why they are where they are.

  8. The way you zoom in on the two characters, I was unsure whose POV I was supposed to see. I felt removed from both of them even after I realized it's the little girl's POV.

    I'm quite intrigued by the relationship between them and want more! Good luck.

  9. Very good opening! Love the details and the mystery. I would definitely keep reading. I need to know what's going on here.

  10. I am a HUGE description lover, however I felt there was too much, too fast. As the others say, work the description in with the action. IT'S BEAUTIFUL, but over kill.

    The last line is OUTRAGEOUS. Very powerful.

    And I agree the voice is way too sophisticated for a five-year-old. I'd raise the age to about eight or nine, then it would be more believable.

    But again, lovely descriptive writing.

  11. Love the descriptions. Kept my attention to the very last line, which was very powerful!

  12. a bit heavy on the descriptions, but still good. I thought the last line to be the thing that truly hooked!

  13. I like this one, but I'm struggling a little because the voice is so distant. All that description about the physical surroundings and the characters appearance and there's no emotional note.

    I doubt I would read further without a better feel for the internal side of the characters.

  14. If not for that last mind-boggling line, I probably would have put the book down. Now, obviously, I have to know what kind of mother she has.

    But I wasn't engaged because while there's a lot of very lovely, detailed description, it's all told from far away and there's no character in it. I can't feel the sand in the wind because I'm told it's there. I can feel it stinging the five year old's eyes, though.

    Is this from Amiria's POV? It sounded like a very distant 3rd Omni to me.

  15. I love the hook, but agree that it could be moved to earlier in the passage to hook the reader's interest earlier. If it weren't for the hook, I don't think I would have gone on reading, the descriptions were very beautiful but felt impersonal. More from the little girl's perspective would have been great, or from the mother's for that matter. They both sound like fascinating characters and I can sense the beginning or end of a intriguing relationship.