Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #46

GENRE:  MG Fantasy

For some unknown reason hawk attacks had increased and the rabbits didn’t understand why; nothing else had changed. To add insult to injury, a large swatch of woodberry bushes, the most vital food for the vegetarians, had been maliciously destroyed.

That was it, the moment when the rabbits got so angry that they had agreed to confront their enemies: either the hawks would show sympathy or the rabbits and all the other prey would hide. Starving their enemies, rather than brute strength, was their mighty weapon.

Komo had been called up. He was the fastest rabbit on Hawk Hill, able to get in, deliver a message and get out. A pro at staying alive, they said. Wapi was his side kick or backup or whatever anyone liked to call her. She didn’t care about names. She had her brother’s back.

Wapi knew that Komo felt rabbits were as good as any predator; no, take that back, rabbits were better, and shouldn’t be intimidated.


  1. I'm not connecting to this story because the main character and conflict has not been made clear. There's a lot of details and events going on, but there's no one (or creature) to attach an emotional reaction to. It's not clear from the start who the main characters is - I'm guessing Wapi.
    Slow down, let me into somebody's head. Give me a solid reason to choose sides, or I'm just confused.

  2. Waiting until the third paragraph to introduce a character seems too late. And I'm a little confused about the basic premise. I can think of many reasons why hawk attacks would increase: the population is up, they're hungry, it's a particular season. And why would hawks show sympathy to their main food source? And if the rabbits have the ability to starve out the hawks, why not do it before, rather than now? It's like a certain amount of loss is acceptable to them. Maybe they had some kind of symbiotic relationship that gets explained later, but if not, their logic is of concern to me.

  3. Perhaps start with a failed hawk attack? show us the terror of the poor rabbit, make us feel and root for them.

  4. I loved Watership Down, and would have been thrilled as a younger reader to read a rabbit story. I would be even more eager to read if the story began with action, rather than an explanation. Good luck with the story--it sounds like you've identified a nice heroic pair.

  5. I think this is a really fun idea for a story and I think you've got a great start!
    I think it would be good to start with a scene, instead of information. It almost reads as bullet points right now.
    It's hard to know what's going on in only 250 words, so I'll just make stuff up to hopefully create some ideas for you. Off the top of my head, what about something like this:
    The sound of chainsaws cutting through the woodberry bushes could be heard across the forest. (Insert where the rabbits are and how they're reacting - bouncing around, crying, etc.) (Insert something about Wapi, if she's the main character. Is she being brave? Is she scared?)
    'First the hawks, now this?"
    "What are we going to do?"
    "Bring in Komo. He's the fastest. He can deliver our message."
    "Will he get caught?"
    "No way. He's a pro at staying alive."
    "I'll go with him." Wapi said.
    "What are you? His sidekick?"
    "I don't care about names. But I've got my brother's back." she replied.
    I totally may have just slaughtered your story, because I don't know who the characters are or what's happening, but hopefully that's a (really rough) example of how it can unfold giving us more information about the characters.
    If there's a character who can give us information, he should rather than the narrator. Your writing has a lot of personality. It would be fun for that to fall directly on the characters.
    Again, such a cute idea for a story! I wish this was published 20 years ago!

  6. I had a hard time digesting the first and second graphs. Stylistically, I'm not big on semicolons in prose. Especially for MG. Also "insult to injury" is such a tired cliche and you're starting your novel with it. I wanted to connect with Komo and Wapi but I wasn't sure what was going on. Maybe your first sentence should be: "Komo was the fastest rabbit on Hawk Hill. He could deliver a message and stay alive." Or something.

  7. The first two paragraphs are telling, an info dump, as is the last one.

    Consider starting with 'Komo had been called up. He...' That gets us immediately into the action, and also that we are dealing with an animal story.

    Then describe what happens next without trying to stuff all the background information in. You'll tell us that later as part of the story.

    What is Komo's fear or concern? Or is Wapi the protagonist? Whoever is the protagonist should be front and center.

  8. This is really interesting, love the premise. Arielle gave good advice about turning your opening into a scene. If you write in scenes, your readers will invest emotionally. You have a unique and worthwhile concept, and the writing is clear and compelling -- just needs to be written from scene to scene, vs. "telling" the story.

  9. Since this is fantasy, we’re wondering if the story’s characters are all animals and whether they can talk or not. The rabbits vs. the hawks seems like a believable conflict if this is an animal-based world. We’re getting a Redwall vibe right away. We would prefer if the opening was a scene as opposed to a summary of previous events.

  10. You could create a lot more suspense and tension if you cut the first two pargs and started with Koma and Wapi taking off to deliver that message.

    You could then show them eluding some hawks as they make their way to go wherever they're going, which would show the reader the situation, rather than explaining it in those first two pargs.

  11. I had some trouble connecting to the opening as you don't introduce the character until the third paragraph. I'd recommend cutting those first two paragraphs and starting right off with your main character, then gradually give us the information you gave us in those first two paragraphs throughout the rest of the chapter. I think spreading it out and showing us rather than telling it all in two paragraphs would help.

    Hope this helps! Good luck!

  12. I want to make sure my comment got through. I'm bent over in deep apology for sending a prologue vs opening lines, and now Wapi and Komo think I don't know a rabbit from a skunk. If anyone would like the real opening of E.A.R.S. please let me know.