Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #49

TITLE: Amongst
GENRE: YA Fantasy

“It is not impossible to leave Verandale. It is impossible to leave with your body still wrapped around your soul.”

—The Elders

The smaller orange sun chased its golden brother into the morning skies over Verandale. The villagers awoke to the day’s first light, thankful for a night in which the alarm never sounded.

Enoch awoke to a different feeling, as if something was eating through his skull and right into his brain. His eyes flew open to see his older brother’s wide smile. Berc’s finger, wet with spit, was lodged in Enoch’s ear.

He swung a fist as hard as he could into Berc’s forearm.

“Oooow!” Berc said, rubbing his arm and grinning. “That is definitely the hardest I have ever been hit by a baby!”

Enoch ripped back the covers to lunge at his brother, but one ankle was tied to the bedpost. He started to yell, but stopped himself to avoid giving Berc more satisfaction.

Berc laughed his way out of Enoch’s room. “It’s amazing,” he yelled back down the hallway, “somebody so dumb has made it another day without getting eaten by a Cof!”

Enoch’s mood improved over his mother’s breakfast of eggs and deer sausage. He was able to slip some meat under the table to his sister’s protec, Dew. It hardly looked like one of the most ferocious animals in all the land as it lay across Sabri’s feet, chewing quietly to avoid detection.


  1. There's some good writing here, but I'm having trouble with how the first paragraph relates to the rest of the passage. Yes, it sets up a counterpoint to what Enoch is feeling upon waking up, but as we're in his POV (I'm assuming), how would he know if the golden sun is rising or that other townspeople have woken up relieved? Especially since he doesn't wake until his brother's wet willy? If you are going for omni POV, then I think you need to do a bit more to make that clear sooner.

    Otherwise, maybe hold back the details about the suns until your MC is awake and is in a position to comment on it (at the breakfast table for example).

    Best of luck!

  2. Since the rest of the excerpt is written from Enoch's point of view, the opening paragraph should be written from his POV, too. Otherwise, it's jarring. The dialogue feels stiff, as if the details are there for the reader's benefit, but the emotions ring true. I like Enoch's reactions to his brother's actions, how the details reveal his personality. I also like how he feels an obvious affection for his mother, and for the protec. There is enough going on that I would keep reading, but the story would benefit from a tightening edit.

  3. I agree about the opening paragraph. I did like how it showed us right away that we aren't on Earth, but that info is woven in later with the mention of the protec.

    I know this is only a few paragraphs, but the relationship between the brothers felt a little stiff. The older brother seemed a little like too mean without any reason the readers understand. He felt like a stock character. Again, I'm sure this isn't the case all the way through.

    On a positive note, there is some really great writing here. The descriptions and actions described were done well. Good job!

  4. I found this very interesting. I really like your hook. My only complaint is that the dialogue doesn't seem realistic. No one knows your characters more than you do, but as a reader, it seems a little unnatural.

    Good job.

    Best written wishes to you.

  5. Yes, you do change POV after the first paragraph. Otherwise, good writing. You are an effective advocate for writing in the active voice.

    Err, just a thought. The beginning quote seemed a bit pretentious for a YA fantasy.

  6. I agree about taking out the first paragraph and rephrasing the second. You can set the world through your character. I think what might be slowing the pace with the brothers' interaction are the details of body movement, a little bit of overexplaining. I'd suggest keeping the movement simple, "he lunged" rather than "he ripped the blankets off to lunge"

  7. I agree wit the rest. The first paragraph is a bit off. And the second paragraph, I thought he was actually in pain, like a worm with fangs was making it way through his scalp. Maybe something different like "as if some slimy slug was making it's nest inside his ear" ? It's gross but better compared to a wet willy? :P

    Very interesting set up of the world so far though

  8. Although I like the first paragraph, I wouldn't start with description. The second graph establishes the POV and gives us a name and a solid idea of the relationship between these two right away. I think this would flow better if you simplified your sentences, got rid of unnecessary words. I like that there's a sense of danger here. I would read more.

  9. Thanks so much everyone for your comments. I printed them out, changed the first paragraph, and like it a lot better.
    Your help was greatly appreciated and, hopefully, I have left good comments for you too!

  10. Having a quote from The Elders creates curiosity about them and their role in this society straight away. Enoch’s and Berc’s interaction is great, because it’s so believable that they’re siblings! It might be nice to have this opening anchored in a sense of place and time, since we’re not quite sure when/where they are. But because we don’t know where Verandale is, we would have liked to have more of a sense of what kind of world it is.

  11. I definitely agree with the others about the first paragraph. Usually it's best to stick to one POV (unless it's dual-POV, but that doesn't seem to be the case here) and as yours seems to be limited third (to Enoch), you'll want to filter everything through his POV.

    I think you've got some nice writing here, although I felt you may have overdone it a little with the lunging and ripping—it felt a little exaggerated. Finally, I think you could use with a little more transition between the second to last and the last paragraph, because as it is it felt a little jerky to me.

    Otherwise, I think you have an interesting opening. I liked the little bits of world building hints that you dropped throughout the prose. Nice start and good luck! :)