Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #50

TITLE: The Guardian of Sudner
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

Jaden Andreist stalled at lunch as long as he could. It was time for battle class. There was no getting out of it… at least none he’d thought of. Reluctantly, he put his elements book away and walked out the door. He’d been practicing for months with Klevi, one of the top battle students, in exchange for tutoring him in runes. A week ago he felt confident. He’d been sparing better than ever. He’d even beaten Klevi twice. But, today was different. The knots in his stomach gave him doubt.

The other boys in his class loved sparring. It was the best part of turning twelve. No longer were they trapped doing nothing but endless boring drills in battle training. Now they got to show off their skill going head to head in real duels. For the other boys it was a dream come true. For Jaden, however, it felt more like a nightmare. He preferred books to battles. If you made a mistake with a book, no one died.

By the time he reached the practice field, most of the other boys were already suited up.

“I didn’t think you’d have the guts to show up today, Jaden,” Berach said as he pushed past him and grabbed some chain mail. “Couldn’t think of an excuse to stay with Daddy?”

The rest of the group sniggered as they filed out onto the field. His face grew warm as he grabbed his gear and a practice sword, hurrying out behind them.


  1. There's something completely wonderful about having no information or background, just 250 words of story.

    I'm already on Jaden's side. I think my favorite line is "If you made a mistake with a book, no one died."

    Some of the first couple sentences feel a wee bit telling, so it took a second for me to fall into the story, but once I reached "Practicing with Kelvi" I was in for the long haul.

    I like this. I like the embarrassment he feels. It feels real :)

  2. The first line grabbed me and I liked Jaden, though I did think he was a she at first. But I do agree there's a bit of telling and I think there are several sentences that could be eliminated. But congrats on being robotly picked and good luck. Sarah

  3. I'm with the other two - there's a fair amount of telling, but not even close to enough to turn me off this. Like Kelsey, I loved the book line. I had to read it again in order to absorb it fully :) I'd love to read the rest of the story! Best of luck!

  4. I loved that it was a twelve year old boy who didn't love fighting, probably not very good at it, and like the other comments loved the cant kill a person with a book line. Very polished piece of writing, great set up with the initial problem right up front, the main one for me being 'He preferred books to battles then you show us in the dialogue. Great start - good luck!

  5. I enjoyed this piece. It seems like it's going to be a fun story. I especially like the nobody dies with books line also.

    Here are some things I think would strengthen this piece:

    The first line tripped me up and could be shortened. Do we need to know his last name and that it's lunch time?

    In fact the first two paragraphs have a lot of background information that could be sprinkled in later if necessary or just left out.

    I think this beginning would be stronger if you got to your fun hook line about nobody dying if you make a mistake with a book A LOT sooner. Then get to your dialogue and interaction with the other characters. We learn a lot from this dialogue that you told us in the first few paragraphs, and it's much more interesting when you show it!

    Good luck with this.

  6. I agree with the others that there seemed to be some telling versus showing, but it wasn't enough to put me off. I do think you could work on a better opening line. It's not bad; I just think it could be better! :)

  7. I feel like there was a lot of telling in the first two paragraphs. I didn't really become interested until you let us into the scene. I think you could cut/save a lot of the first two paragraphs.

  8. I think you could have easily shortened some of these sentences to give them more punch. There are a few times you use 'was' when a stronger verb would do. In the first two sentences instead of "It was time for battle class" you could just say "Time for battle class." Its punchier and gives more voice to your lead. The concept itself has a hook but the writing isn't quite as strong.
    I'd probably still read on, just to see where it went, but I think you can make it better. A few stronger words and a few shorter sentences could make the difference.

  9. For middle-grade novels, especially ones for boys, an immediate connection with the protagonist and the action is very important. This makes the connection and I like the clear prose and strong dialogue.

  10. Whew, this is tight! I really appreciate his fear, his feeling, his logic! I love that I'm intrigued about the setting, too.

    I'm sure people have already pointed out the spelling issue with sparring, but I'll throw that up there. Thanks for sharing!

  11. The first parg is nice, it gets us right into the story. In the 2nd parg, we get a narrator's POV instead of Jaden's. Perhaps consider --

    The other boys in his class loved sparring. They got to show off their skill going head to head in real duels. For them, it was a dream come true. For him, it felt like a nightmare. He preferred books to battles. If you made a mistake with a book, no one died.

    I loved the fact that Jaden is a boy who thinks. I'd read more.

  12. This opening has everything you could want. The conflicts are brought out front and center, and you get a sense of the main character's personality and the setting. The line about no one dying with books is priceless! My only comment would be to get out of his head a little bit and put a little more action in there. How did his sparring go up to now? Why doesn't he like sparring? Did something happen to him to make him feel this way? Show all of that.

    Good luck with this! Sounds like a great start!