Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Secret Agent #9

TITLE: Traitor Knight
GENRE: Adult Fantasy

A clamor of rooks exploded through the trees, nearly drowning out the woman’s scream.

Morgan’s head jerked up and he straightened in the saddle. Trouble, at last. It had been a boring patrol up til now. He set his heels to Arnicus’ flanks and the big grey gelding quickened its pace along the narrow trail. The birds flapped off, their raucous calls fading in the distance. A watchful silence overtook the woods, broken only by the thud of Arnicus’ hooves on the summer-dry earth.

Morgan scanned the undergrowth for the source of that cry. He knew no good reason why a lady, screaming or otherwise, should be in the middle of the King’s forest. But whatever the reason, he had to find her. Help her, if possible. He’d never been one to shy away from trouble. No soldier was, or he didn’t remain a solider for long. His hand reflexively loosened his sword in its well-worn sheath.

Another shriek split the air. Arnicus leapt forward, nostrils flared and ears laid back. Morgan drew his blade. The trees thinned slightly, the mottled light of the forest replaced by brighter sunshine that heralded a clearing. Morgan jerked hard on the reins, causing Arnicus to toss his head in equine complaint. Morgan paid little heed.

Just ahead, the trail opened out onto a serene sun-dappled clearing. The little meadow, dotted with bright patches of wildflowers, would have been charming if not for the hulking blue dragon crouched in its center.


  1. I like your descriptions but sometimes I felt boggled down by them and just wanted to get to the source of the woman's cry.
    I'm not a fantasy reader so it's just a personal opinion.

    Your wording seems tight which is great.
    Your second paragraph is my favorite. It gives details of the story and not just descriptions of the scene.

  2. Interesting worldbuilding, but too much stating the obvious; e.g., "no good reason" for a lady in the forest, he had to help her, soldiers don't shy away from trouble, a horse has to turn its head when the rider jerks the reins, etc. Get to the dragon and delete the unnecessary words.

  3. I would cut: "it had been a boring patrol until now". That's telling, not showing. And I think the narrator shows us that Morgan is happy to engage in some action.

    Other than that, it's working for me.

  4. I actually like this a lot. There's immediate tension and I want to know what kind of trouble Morgan's going to find as he follows the woman's screams. There's a bit of telling in here that I think you could cut, but overall a great start.

    Good luck!

  5. The descriptions are decent, but you're going down the fantasy cliche checklist like it was a scavenger hunt. Generic medieval-Europe-style fantasy world, knight, king's forest, damsel in distress.

    I'm afraid I don't see this as workable. If there's something later in your book that doesn't sound like every fantasy book written in the past 50 years, start there. Otherwise, regroup and brainstorm some more original ideas.

  6. I like this a lot! I think the descriptions are great and I love the last line! I get a bit of a Princess Bride vibe. I want to know what happens with the dragon. I'd keep reading!

  7. This feels a bit cliche to me, both in setup and the language used. I think you need to start with a stronger, more unique hook, and then you can bring in some fantasy standards and tropes.

  8. This is interesting, but slow. Perhaps once Morgan hears the scream, just have him ride toward the sound. He's supposed to be riding in haste. It's urgent that he reached this damsel. SHow that, rather than stopping the action every other line to give us an update on the scenery, which kills the urgency and slows the pacing.