Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #34

TITLE: Shattered

Her father was going to be furious when he found out.

Auriella fingered the end of her braid as she walked, head lowered. She just needed to get there and get back unseen. Then she could figure out how to tell her father in a way that would make the truth not be so awful. As if that would be possible. Her father couldn’t stand disobedience, and she couldn’t stand disappointing him. Which made what she was doing tremendously stupid.

Pushing that thought to the corner of her mind, she glanced down the castle hallway and released the breath she’d been holding. Not many were up and about this time of morning, the other castle guests no doubt having enjoyed their revelry late into the night. Lucky for her. She descended the stairs and strolled into the castle yard, seeing only a few servants. So far, so good.

She tugged her cloak tighter, more to hide her presence than to ward off the morning chill. As long as no one ran into her, she’d be fine. She had to go. Auriella huffed out a sigh. As if a vague longing to do something would be enough of an excuse to appease her father. She would have to deal with his anger when she returned. That truth jumbled in her head, clanking against her justification the way her father’s sword did on metal.

Saints above, just get on with it.


  1. It's very full of emotion. I like the juxtaposition of an angry father and his sword. It strikes a little more fear into the moment.

    I don't know if I want to know what Auriella did before she tells her father or if it can wait. I feel like this builds a good amount of suspense, though.

    Good luck. :)


  2. I felt a bit ungrounded at the start. I didnt' know where she was when she was walking. I thought outside, but then she's in the castle. Perhaps just rearrange a few sentences to make it clear where she is first off.

    otherwise, solid writing. A bit too much detail for me, but I know most readers prefer more detail.

  3. I'm assuming this is YA Fantasy (because of the name, Auriella, and the setting of a castle).

    I like that she's planning on disobeying her father at the start of the book. And apparently her father's the worst, so it makes me like Auriella for her act of rebellion (even if she's reluctant).

    The writing is strong; the details are varied, from the chill of the morning, to the sound of her sigh, to the fear she feels at her father's wrath.

  4. I like this opening! I think it needs a bit more to keep me going though. I like the mystery of not knowing where she is going, but perhaps a small hint about what she is doing that will upset her father so much...A boy? A spell? Something evil? Maybe just a hint to keep the reader turning the page.

    One small edit...In the second paragraph, you use the word castle three times within five sentences. That isn't necessary. I would call the people guests not "castle guests," because that's obvious. And castle yard can just be yard. I would think about changing that to something more descriptive though. "...and strolled out into the wide expanse of frozen/green/dry/etc. grass/stone/etc..."

  5. I like the beginning but there seems to be a lot of dithering - which is why the "just get on with it" at the end works so well. But I'd like a bit more information - ground,telling details - about where and who the MC is.

  6. I like your opening, but I think you can add even more tension by laying a few more hints as to what she is planning to do. The fact that her dad will be angry is great, but why is it so important to her? Good luck!

  7. Sorry, this didn't hold me at all. Reason - I don't like being told the same thing over and over.

    You tell us in the first line that her father was going to be furious, then in the first paragraph that her father couldn't stand disobedience and then in the last paragraph you repeat the same thing by saying she'll have to deal with his anger.

    You say at the start 'she just needed to get there and get back unseen' and then in the next para you tell us 'she glanced down the castle hallway -- not many were up and about this time of morning' and then in the last para you tell us 'as long as no one ran into her, she'd be fine.'

    If you eliminate the repetition this could effectively be cut down to one paragraph.

    Also --personal hate--'she released the breath she'd been holding' will generally guarantee I'll stop reading.

  8. I kind of agree with KayC here. Being held in the dark for so long on the first pages as to what she did wrong, left me a little uninterested and apathetic to her plight.

    There is no doubt that you are a good descriptive writer, but I think if you cut a bit of the description down, and add in clues as to what she did and why she's running away, it'd make your first page a lot stronger.

    Also, using the word "fingering" in the first sentence might not be the best word...maybe "Fiddled" would work better. just set me on a sour note right away.

  9. I like the set-up, but it does drag a little bit. Tighten it up some and you can get to what it is she wants to do sooner.
    Also, in the book, I'm sure it will become clear soon enough what kind of story it is, but if you had elaborated a bit 'YA historical', 'YA fantasy', etc. it would help us place her better. (On a personal note, as a history buff, if it's a historical novel, I'd like to see more details and terminology that would set where and when this castle exists. If it's fantasy, I can go with generic castle.)

  10. In places I felt drawn to Auriella, and began to connect to her – the hesitancy I can feel in her gesture with her braid, the impatience with herself in the last line. But there was a great deal of repetition in this opening, and it felt circular, rather than moving forward. Additionally, I think a bit more descriptive detail might help, so that I can better picture this castle.