Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #47

TITLE: Goldilocks
GENRE: YA Fantasy

I gripped my staff and waited for the attack to come. The grass under my feet was still slick from the season’s first frost. My breath came out in puffs that drifted off toward gray, low-hanging clouds. The sun had barely crested the horizon, signaling the start of another day. For those of us who survived the night, there was always a certain joy in seeing the sun float into the sky.

And today was going to be one of the most important of my life.

“Begin,” a voice called. It sounded far away, as though it was coming from the enchanted forest instead of from across the practice field.

I raised my staff to fend off the blow, but I was a second too slow. My muscles had tightened after standing around in the morning cold. The blade skimmed off the metal cuff wrapped around the end of my staff before biting into the wood, cutting out a chunk, and forcing me to stumble backward to stay on my feet.

“You’ll have to do better than that if you want to beat me, Goldilocks,” Rhys said. He readied his sword for another blow, displaying hints of the dark green and black uniform of the Night Watch under his protective leather vest. A thin cord bound his hair at the nape of his neck. His otherwise handsome face was marred by his crooked nose. It’d been broken during a training session a year ago. Despite the injury, he’d gone on to win the fight.


  1. I like this idea of an updated Goldilocks, and the character being trained in staff fighting techniques is intriguing. I'm a little put off by the first couple of paragraphs because this is all set-up info that could be better shown in her interactions with Rhys, maybe even some physical sensations that show the reader the anxiety she's feeling in the moment. Once we get to the actual lesson/fight part, things move smoothly and you give us a nice description of Rhys. Best of luck!

  2. I think the first paragraph is really strong. The sense of danger immediately captures my interest, and the descriptions are very good. I think the stand alone: “And today was going to be one of the most important of my life” is little detracting from it. Perhaps it’s the way it’s phrased.

    It’s a nice surprise to find out that the MC is training, and not in the middle of an actual war.

    I love the description about muscles tightening in the cold (very real).

    It might be nice to indicate that Goldilocks is facing someone before, “I raised my staff…” just so the reader can picture things a bit quicker.
    The only other suggestion I have is to maybe push back or condense some of Rhys’ physical descriptions, specifically the part about the broken nose (which is interesting, but takes away from the immediate action).

    You could distil it like this if you want to get back to the action quicker: His otherwise handsome face was marred by a crooked nose, broken during a training session a year ago.

    I think your writing is strong, and your Goldilocks sounds awesome!

  3. I really like this! (As a disclaimer, I am familiar with the concept already, though I'm not sure if I ever read the opening). I think the last paragraph maybe a few of those lines could be combined or omitted, or maybe a little detail on how she knows he won that fight that made his nose crooked.

    I agree that the Today line might benefit from rephrasing. It could even go as simple as Today was vitally important. That's still a "telling" but if you're going to go that route I think a snappier line will work better.

    Good luck! Love this concept.

  4. The first sentence is good. It begins with an action moment and I wanted to read on. However, I think the first paragraph could be tightened a bit. For instance, the sun is mentioned twice in close proximity. Also, if "the sun had barely crested the horizon," we know that a day is beginning. So it sounds redundant. If you combine a few sentences you might get more of a punch out of this scene.

    In the second paragraph from the bottom it says, "I raised my staff to fend off the blow..." at which point I'm curious where the blow is coming from. Who is the opponent?

    I love this image, "The blade skimmed off the metal cuff wrapped around the end of my staff before biting into the wood, cutting out a chunk, and forcing me to stumble backward to stay on my feet." But I'm not following "stumble backward to stay on my feet."

  5. I agree with Henya about the first paragraph. Specifically, it sounds monotonous with four sentences in a row with the familiar subject-verb-object order.

    "as though it was" Since this is contrary to fact, it needs the subjunctive mood, "as though it were."

    The last paragraph sounds monotonous again, with a series of short sentences. Your sentence about the blade skimming off a chunk shows you know how to write long sentences that are interesting. Try alternating long and short sentences.

    I think if you make a few changes, this could be a strong start.

  6. Unlike some of the other comments, I would rather the first sentence was simply "I gripped my staff and waited." I don't need you to "tell me" there is going to be an attack because you go on to describe it.

    I found the description of Rhys on the very first page out of place. I don't have any sense of the the protagonist, but you are describing a secondary character in detail. Get me in invested in Goldilocks first.

    Like the comments above, I would cut some of the description in the first paragraph, as it did get monotonous.

  7. Strong opening paragraph with nice tension. I like the line - 'for those of us who survived the night'. Great hook. I agree you can cut a little of the description and give us a little more about Goldilocks.

    Overall, good writing and I would read more, for sure!

  8. I think this is all technically sound. I agree with Henya, though -- you could eliminate some words. You could just say: "It was the start of another day." That makes the next sentence that much stronger. Maybe just a hint of Goldilocks' size as opposed to Rhys?

  9. The writing of this is good. Having the opening line mention waiting for an attack is great, since there is suspense and danger from the first sentence. The reveal that the MC’s name is Goldilocks is a nice twist, since it sets up the potential of a new take on old fairytale characters.

  10. I was confused. She wakes up and admires the day before a supposed battle, and I'm thinking some enemy is going to attack, then she goes to a practice match with a fellow tribesman, so I felt cheated there, that you promised me one thing and gave me another.

    And then the practice match doesn't turn out to be anything either. One hit and it's over. SHe's out. So there's nothing there to pull me in, to make me read on.

    If there really is no battle, I'd suggest you change that word to challenge or something else, or better yet, start with the challenge, which allows you to take your opening further into the story.