Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #44

TITLE: The Crystal Bearer
GENRE: YA Fantasy

If things went how Ghuli desired, she would swing through the air in the next few minutes. Otherwise, she would have to explain to her watchmen why breaking her arms and legs was a good use of her time. She sat on a high, steady, blue willow tree branch deep in the forest, tying a cluster of its switches together as the sun heated her skin.

She only had a few minutes left before Cyan found her, so she clutched the ridged bark as she stood, then pressed her long, brown feet down against the branch. She stretched her arms out in front of her, the tied switches dangling just an inch below. Ghuli held her breath, stepped down onto them with her right foot, closed her eyes, and stepped with her left. She fell through the air for two seconds before the switches jerked tight beneath her feet, eliciting screams and laughter from her as she moved through the veil of blue switches. She swung upwards until she stared up at the wraps bound around her feet, the hem of her un-dyed woolen skirt sucked against her shins. Then, she fell back through the same switches, grasping her makeshift swing as it scooped her up in the other direction. Her black curls shielded her eyes and mouth as her body lay suspended in the air for another long second before she swung forward again.

After minutes of swinging, she locked eyes with her First Lieutenant Watchman as she fell forward.


  1. I was confused by this opening. At first I thought she was playing around. Then you said she didn't want someone to find her, so I thought she was trying to escape. then it seemed like she was playing around at the end.

    Also, I thought there was too much description of her swinging.

  2. I'm intrigued to know more about the watchmen — that's definitely the part that most snags my interest. Is she a prisoner? Being tested somehow? Or are they guards? These are the questions that would make me keep reading!

    I think the first 250 gets a little bogged down in the details of the swing — I'm not sure we really need to know exactly how she wove it together, or with what foot she steps onto it first, etc. I'd trim down some of those details to make more room to focus on the implicit conflict between Ghuli and the watchmen, which is way more interesting.

    Good luck!

  3. I enjoyed the lightheartedness of this piece -- I hope it was supposed to be fun, rather than scary. I wasn't quite sure with the watchmen, but Ghuli seemed to be having a good time.

    One thing you might want to watch is your descriptive words. Your readers can get a picture without them, like you don't need to say "ridged" bark. Also, you use the word "switches" a lot, so you might want to find another way to talk about them sometimes.

    Like I said, I liked the free feeling here, but the extra words and descriptions held it back a little. See if you can tighten it up, and it will read like the free-falling paragraphs it has the potential to be!

    Enjoyed it. Good luck!

  4. I wonder if just switching around (Hahaha--- pun unintended) your sentence structures you could spend that much time on the swinging? Just changing around the action, so you didn't use the word "she" so much even, might help.

    I was intrigued by it though and also wanted to know more about the watchman. Maybe starting with him might be better?

  5. It's almost midnight now, and maybe this is why I got confused and had to reread the first paragraph to realized what she was doing. I also agree the description of her preparing to swing and actually swinging seems too long. And I'm wondering what it had to do with the meat of your story. Might be starting in the wrong area. IDK.

    In the first paragraph, you mention her "watchmen" (plural) and then later refer to Lieutenant "Watchman" (singular) as if it's a name. This confused me.

    Also, you mention the switches dangling an inch below her arms, and then say they tighten below her feet, this confused me. And if they were "below" her feet, wouldn't they not be on her body at all? Shouldn't they tighten just above her feet or around her ankles?

    This is a fun visual, and something I'd probably try myself! I think if you tighten the sentences and rephrase for clarity it will be a wonderful opening. Good luck!

  6. This was fun. ^_^
    I like your MC already. Sneaking off to have some dangerous fun. It's a little bit wordy, and I wasn't exactly sure what she was trying to makeshift at first, but I really enjoyed this and would like to read more.

    I got the hang of it after a few more sentences, so it probably just needs to be tightened up a bit.

  7. I want to second the comment above about sentence structure. It's very important if you want to keep readers engaged for a long ride. A tale that is essentially "she did this, then she did that, then she did this" can feel monotonous after a while, even when it has some wonderful descriptive words such as you've used. The last sentence of your second to last paragraph ("Her black curls...")is a nice variant. Consider more of this, and other variants.

    You may also want to vary sentence length more. Use some shorter sentences here and there to punch up the tension. "She had only a few minutes left before Cyan found her" creates great tension. Let the reader live in that tension for a moment by ending the sentence there. Then, we are eager to know what she does next.

    You've got an intriguing idea here and are creating a vivid world. Good luck.

  8. I was hooked, but then my eyes drifted away from the words the more I read. I think it slows with all the description of swinging. The word "switches" is used a lot.

    Then, I was back into it at the very end.

  9. I like the idea of this character escaping in some way, of her doing something slightly dangerous. I also liked the second line – gives us stakes and is wryly humorous at the same time. But I really couldn’t follow what happened in the next paragraph. After re-reading its clearer, but not completely; this needs a re-write for clarity.

  10. An opening should advance the plot and this one feels like it stalled a bit. The writing is good but its a little too focused.