Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Secret Agent #31

TITLE: Breaking the Chalice
GENRE: Adult Alternate World Fantasy

     I wasn’t thinking about my home in the clouds the day Renato saved my life. I was lost in the task of tending my front flowerbeds. The back gardens—all five of them—I left untouched and feral.
     The soil under my fingers was still cool as I bent on hands and knees, turning the mulch a handful at a time. A rake would have been faster, but I had nothing else to fill the day. Library day wasn’t until tomorrow, and soup day was still two days away.
     I wasn’t happy, but I was numb. The longer I stayed in exile, the more I saw that numbness as a gift. Grief doesn’t hurt when you can’t feel anything.
     Sweat collected on my forehead and slid into my eyes. I blinked it away. Tulips and daffodils were starting to bud. I worked around the dots of green sprung up in a sea of wood chips. Dirt dwellers had so much wood; they shredded it and let it turn to dirt. In Stratosphere, a tree and a plot of soil was a thing to be valued. Fruit trees, some taking years before they bore fruit, were passed down through generations.
     I toiled in my garden as I had seen my mother do for so many years. My mother, the Queen, was known for her flowers. She had a green thumb that enriched everything she touched.
     Almost everything she touched.
     I finished the left flowerbed and sat back on my heels.


  1. Far too many "was" sentences in here. I challenge you to find a way to rewrite the sentences to remove every single one of them.

  2. I didn't start connecting with this until the paragraph starting with 'Sweat collected on my forehead.' Personally I think that would be a better starting point and would add the other info in at another time.

  3. I am not getting a sense of either the setting or the MC or a hint of the story. The writing is good no doubt. " I wasn’t happy, but I was numb. The longer I stayed in exile, the more I saw that numbness as a gift. Grief doesn’t hurt when you can’t feel anything." This is a killer line to start with IMHO. Good luck!

  4. You’ve set up an interesting setting (I’m assuming he’s in Stratosphere) and I like how you don’t explain what happens on Library and Soup days. I like “Almost everything she touched,’ because it lets us know he isn’t enriched (or maybe she. Perhaps add something to let us know if the MC is male or female. Hair, clothing. And perhaps italicize ‘almost.’) again, without explaining. You’re trusting your reader to get things, and you’re leaving some things unanswered, so I have something to look forward to.

    You might consider cutting the opening parg. You’re telling us what will happen before it does, and the actual incident will have more effect if it comes as a surprise. And do we really need to know how many gardens he has? And if the back five are untouched and feral, are they really gardens?

    And is there a way to get the inciting incident on this page? It is a bit slow and a person gardening isn’t all that exciting. But if the MC has a feeling that something isn’t right, or hears a strange noise, that could carry enough mystery to take the reader through to the point where something does happen. I’d read more.

  5. I like the first paragraph here. I would consider changing the world "feral" to "wild" - to me, feral connotes animals more than plants.

    I'm intrigued by "library day" and "soup day" - since those are not things that necessarily go together.

    I'm also intrigued by the word "Stratosphere" - that clearly tells me are in some kind of alternate or scifi-type world even though up until now the setting seemed quite pastoral.

    You've caught my attention even more now that I know she/he is the daughter/son of the Queen and not just anyone, and I also want to know what the exception is to "everything she touched." But you've not give us much about the MC - male? female? What does he/she look like?

    I'm quite intrigued and would definitely read on.

    Thanks for entering!