Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #47

TITLE: ENCIRCLED
GENRE: YA Fantasy

England. 1483.

The stairs went down forever, darker and darker the deeper they descended into the bowels of the castle. He pressed close to his brother and held tight to his mother's shaking hand.

When finally they came to a halt, the torches guttered out. The darkness nearly swallowed him. His mother crushed him to her chest, kissed his hair, his eyes, his wet cheeks, his fingers. She held his face in her hands and stared at him through the pitch. The warmth of her tears tickled his neck as she pulled him to her again.

"War is upon us, little one, and I must go now to keep you safe. Do not fear the darkness; it protects you and hides you from our enemies. Keep to the shadows, make the darkness your friend, and you will be safe until I come for you again," she whispered into his ear.

His mother knelt and pushed a small, round metal object into his damp hand.

"Hold to this tightly, it will bring us together again. Remember, my little one, time to love mattereth not. I will come for you again; rest safe in my promise. Tell no one who you are. Be as the blackest coal that hides in the darkest midnight cave,” she said, her hurried words echoing against the stone that closed in on him.

“I will, mother. I will, I swear it!” he cried, and buried his head in her unseen hands.

She kissed his head and pushed him gently into the night.

13 comments:

Ted Atchley said...

I like the opening, and you definately had me hooked. The dialog between the mother and the child is particulary strong.
I think you might have overdone it a bit with the 'wet' adjectives.

There were a couple of places that didn't make sense to me.

"When finally they came to a halt, the torches guttered out. "

I'm not sure what 'guttered out' means.

After the torches 'guttered out' which I presume means they went out, you say, "The darkness nearly swallowed him. "

What other ligtht source is there? I don't think the 'nearly' is needed there.

"She held his face in her hands and stared at him through the pitch"

I'm not sure what you mean by 'through the pitch'? Do you mean pitch black dark?

" she said, her hurried words echoing against the stone closed in on him"

This sentence reads awakward. Did you mean as the stone closed in on him? But she's still there so the stone isn't closing. I'm not sure.

I think you could try to make it a little more clear. They are descending some stairs, but then at the end she pushes him out into the night. I think a couple of more details about the passage and how it opens to the outside might help.

Linda C said...

I'm definitely hooked. You seem to have the voice down for the period of time.
The only thing I kept wondering as I read was--what about the brother? There's no mention of him after the opening.
Good luck!

agirlnamednat said...

Very interesting start, but I think you have a bit of telling then showing going on. You can eliminate the first part "went down forever" and lead with the showing part of that sentence.

I love the mother's dialogue.

What the number of adverbs you use, you can eliminate majority of them and tighten up your writing.

For your tag..."I swear it!" he cried. It's a good rule of thumb to either use the "!" or the tag, but not both.

Laura said...

This is an intriguing story and I feel for this boy and his mother (and brother who got none of the love or attention as their mother was about to part?) I'd like the opening line to be stronger. It should definitely be about the darkness, but starting with mentioning the stairs distracts me from the main point that he is about to disappear into blackness for his own safety. With a stronger opening sentence and tightening up on your sentences, this is going to be a great story. Nice job!

fictionwriter said...

I agree totally with Laura and the other comments. Keep working at this. It could be quite good.

GM Kern said...

You hooked me. I can't wait to read more.

Things to think about...

"His mother crushed him to her chest, kissed his hair, his eyes, his wet cheeks, his fingers."

what about, His mother crushed him to her, imprinting herself on him one last time.

And, what about his brother, little brother, older? I would hope the mother would say something about that, a sentence.

But, overall, I really enjoyed it. Need a beta reader?

Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused that this is a fantasy but takes place in England in 1483. But then, I'm a history major. I'm probably reading too much into this! It's interesting to see where it's going, but I think the mother talks too much. I would think she would have said the third paragraph before they ever started down the stairs. And I don't think it's necessary here. That will come out eventually and it just slows this down. And I agree with the other comments. Why is the brother even there if they're both ignoring him? If it's part of the story, that's fine, otherwise, just leave him out. You can establish that there's a brother and there's a war going on later. But, I'd keep reading.

Andrea Cooper said...

I agree with GM's comment: "His mother crushed him to her chest, kissed his hair, his eyes, his wet cheeks, his fingers."

what about, His mother crushed him to her, imprinting herself on him one last time.

There are just a few tweaks that could be done and this would make a great opening. For example, repetitive words "Do not fear the darkness; it protects you and hides you from our enemies." Instead: "Do not fear the darkness; it protects and hides you from the enemy." Also, the mom seems calm - maybe he feels her tremble or something that will let the reader, if not the child, see that this is hard for her and she is fearful. If she's not, then let us know why.

Wendy Qualls said...

I think you could use a character name at the first "he," unless this character's identity is deliberately supposed to be a secret (and even then, use "the boy" or similar). I also wasn't sold by the "War is upon us" line - if he lived there, surely he would know at least the basics of what was going on? I could see "General BadGuy is almost to the gates" or "It's no longer safe for you here" or something being actual information he didn't already have, but "war is upon us" is terribly vague and doesn't feel like it would be news.

Barbara said...

England 1483 made me think immediately of Edward V and the two princes in the tower, and I'm wondering if this might be a fantasy telling of their story. It reads like it could be.

THis had the feel of a prologue to me because the boy is unnamed, and because it seems to be his story, but is told in a distant omniscient POV. If that's the case, I think the POV works. If it's not a prologue, you might consider a closer POV and name the boy at the first 'he.'

As others have said, the brother is totally ignored. If he'll play a part in the story later, you should probably do something with him here. If they'll be adversaries later, you might show a bit of sibling rivalry here, like when the MC brushes up against his brother, the brother could move away. If they'll be allies later, you can create an emotional parting scene. Whatever their relationship will be, you can set the tone for it here. If the brother's not relevant to the story, you don't need him here.

When finally they came to a halt, the torches guttered out. -- THis is unclear. DId they stop and blow out the torches, or did the torches go out, causing them to stop?

I'd keep the kissing of his hair and eyes and cheeks because it creates a visual image. It's something the reader can see. Imprinting herself on him is vague and has no precise meaning. ANd if her tears tickle his neck, he needs to react to that. Laugh, scratch, wipe the wet away? If he doesn't react, there's no point in it happening.

ANd pushed him gently into the night. -- Aren't they in the bowels of a castle? If she has led him to outside, make that evident.

I'd read more, especially if it does turn out to be Edward V.

MargotG said...

Send more, immediately.

Secret Agent said...

This is well written and I love that we're thrown right into this place of mystery and secrecy. I'm hooked!

Summer Spence said...

Thanks to all who commented! This was so helpful and I've already made changes! :o)