Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March Secret Agent #25

GENRE: YA Fantasy

The gargoyles are staring at me again. I narrowly miss clocking the stone figure’s outstretched tongue as I stumble forward, my high-heeled boots puncturing the frozen grass. Bray smiles and shakes his head as he throws a wave to one of the guards stationed at the estate's main entrance. Even from our distance, our family's silver insignia twinkles on the breast pocket of their jackets. It's the most comforting sight I've seen in hours.

"I've made an executive decision,” I tell Bray as the shadow from hundreds of feet of soaring black stone envelops us, the towers blanketed by spiraling tufts of fog. "I'm removing Fang and the rest of those statues. I think my eyes are peeling from the hideousness."

"Fang is going nowhere, Lace." Bray's mouth twists into his you-can’t-be-serious look. "He's my favorite. And hey, maybe they'll scare the Council members for you." We pause to greet the guards as they open the massive doors, but my stomach drops.

The Council. The thumping of my heart overpowers the sound of my boots’ light staccato against the dark marble floors. "Do you think they’re already here?"

I've spent days going over my first speech to them. It has to be eloquent, convincing, and smart, and starting with "Hello, I know you might not feel comfortable having a seventeen-year-old as your boss" won’t cut it.

"I don't know." Bray shrugs as we stride through the wide hallway. The estate is as silent as time frozen. A slight chill glazes over my skin.


  1. This sounds like a fun story! The characters have great interaction. My only worry is that maybe the story doesn't start in the right place -- it's fun dialog, but all I know is they're going to a meeting with The Council, and Lace is apparently their boss? I'm confused, and not sure what exactly the stakes are.
    But, great writing, and good luck!

  2. I agree that perhaps this doesn't start in the right place. The dialogue jumps around and gives the reader random information that doesn't seem to relate to the MC's situation with the Council. However, the second-to-last paragraph is great -- it drops information on the reader and sets up a conflict. I wonder if you could move that paragraph close to the beginning or make it the beginning. It really packs a punch and is catchy and intriguing. (Or maybe start with the Council meeting, and Lace is standing in front of them sweating, and has the worry about being a 17-year-old boss? Or something like that!) If the gargoyles play a role later in the story, you might be more justified starting out this way, but if they aren't really relevant to the rest of the plot, then I would definitely suggest changing the beginning.
    I also wondered why this was the most comfortable she'd felt in hours -- where was she before? -- but then that comfort is contradicted by her nervousness for the Council meeting. I'm not sure what vibe I am supposed to get as a reader.
    Also, I was confused about her stumbling. With what part of her body did she almost clock the gargoyle? The gargoyles are sitting at chest-height (I often imagine gargoyles up high on the top of a building)?
    Your voice made me want to keep reading and I am curious about the Council. Lace and Bray also both have distinctive voices, and I like their relationship already.

  3. I'm going to be the voice of dissent here and say I like where you've started the story. There's something to be said for easing into things. I for one really like the interplay between Bray and Lace. It makes us like them as characters from the start, even as you ease into the conflict Lace is facing, i.e. the Council speech. Your voice is great, and it's more than enough to keep me reading what amounts to a single page of manuscript. (See how subjective this business is?!)

  4. I feel like you've done a really nice job of describing the setting--I have a very clear image in my head. One thing that you might want to work on a little bit is the dialogue here. I always think that fantasy and historical dialogue is the hardest to write because you need it to simultaneously read smoothly to a modern reader and make sound different enough that we believe we're reading about another place and time. I don't envy the task! The ultimate goal needs to be for your dialogue to sound natural and, right now, it feels a bit forced, which pulled me out of the story and made it hard to really get a feel for your characters. It's definitely an interesting setup though!

  5. I'm confused as to where we've started at, and I got stuck for awhile on the description of the gargoyles. Is what they look like and how she feels about them the most important thing to open with? I'd like to know more about her and her buddy and where they just came from. The "comforting sight" line makes me think they just ran away from danger--so why can't we hear about that?