Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #28

GENRE: YA Fantasy

There was no way the babe could be alive.

Not in the biting cold of the páramo mountains where demons crawled out of burrows and prowled from stunted trees to barbed shrubs. Where in the height of night the breath came out smoky white, and icicles crusted the spikes of cacti. Here, an abandoned babe was nothing more than an easy meal.
So Reyna hurried. Her transplant heart thrummed as she hiked the tundra in the presence of shadows. Spiked cacti tugged her clothes and dead twigs snapped under her weight. A lone breeze sang past the sparse trees, then chilled her right through the openings of her clothes.

It wasn’t so much that the darkness frightened her, but what it meant to be here. What rescuing the babe meant.

Cold perspiration hugged her palms underneath her leather gloves. Her hand found the hilt of her sword on its own, the feel of it becoming a reassurance. She couldn’t shake the feeling of being followed.

Perhaps the páramo had wards. The sorceress doña Wilgeva could have employed any kind of spell to alert her whenever someone with Reyna’s exact intentions crossed these paths. It was almost stupid of her to come on her own, thinking she had the power to change anything.

A shadow shifted from the corner of her eyes. The tall grass stopped breathing. Or maybe she did.
Reyna leapt away from the sounds of a pursuer, scrambling over stunted stumps and slippery, mossy rocks.


  1. Perhaps a new opening line: 'In a place where icicles crusted the spikes of cacti in the height of night, an abandoned babe was nothing more than an easy meal.'

  2. Firstly, I love the title! This opening raises many questions and I'd love to read more, especially to see if she manages to rescue the baby.

    I wonder why it's stupid of her to come on her own, what dangers lurk and why are they dangerous? Would it help to be a crew instead of just one person, why/why not?

  3. Beautiful and suspenseful opening!!!
    If I was to nitpick, I feel like you could add a little more about the baby. Is it crying? Is she thankful its asleep? Also has she thought ahead of where she's going or is she just fleeing?
    And for the part where she says "It was almost stupid of her to come on her own. Perhaps you could make this internal dialogue and really strengthen it by saying "This was a stupid idea, but too late to back out now." Or something similar. Instead of "almost stupid" no, it WAS stupid ;-) BUT she did it anyway. I feel like that would give a clearer picture of your MC's personality (how bold and brave she is) right from the start.

  4. Yikes, hello dramatic open! Who is Reyna? Who is this babe? Who is the babe a meal for? Demons, animals? Both? And why is it up to Reyna to rescue the babe? What does rescuing the babe mean? I'm guessing it's going against someone's laws, or rules, this sorceress doña Wilgeva perhaps. But why has the babe been left to die in the cold (heartbreaking, and I felt that deep). I'm not pointing out these things because I'm frustrated and they need to be answered immediately. I point them out to note that these questions, and the stakes for the characters, make me want to read on to find out what happens next... But some of them should be answered soon.

    The only thing that kind of niggled at me was the transplant heart bit. I'm sure there is reason for that to be mentioned and we just don't have that info yet (this is after all only 250 words, I know). But it tripped me up. Almost like, why does it need to be brought up now, if we're not going to know why it matters? This is nit-picky, I know, but there it is.

    Craft wise, I love the tangible sensory imagery in this. It transplants me to this cold dry silky tundra, which is just great writing.

    Oh and btw, I LOVE this line, "The tall grass stopped breathing. Or maybe she did."

  5. Wow! Very suspenseful and fantastic job making us feel exactly what Reyna feels. I seriously felt like I was the one out there! Amazing!

    The worldbuilding is awesome, you could sneak in a little more when she says the wind blows in through her clothes. (Tunic, cloak, jacket, etc)

    It’s really hard to find anything to critique. Maybe drop the transplant heart part till later?

    I want to read more of this! Well done!

    1. Thank you so much! Your suggestions are very helpful :)!!

  6. The imagery is gorgeous.

    This sounds super important, "It wasn’t so much that the darkness frightened her, but what it meant to be here. What rescuing the babe meant." I hope we get to find out more!

  7. Nice, although it felt a little adjective-heavy at times. Not crazy about the "almost stupid" part because it left me wondering, is the MC stupid or not lol.

  8. Yes! A very grabby opening. The first line hooks intruige, and then the setting follows to ground us alongside your MC. Beautiful writing, right up my street.

  9. I really have nothing to critique - I love this opening and would absolutely keep reading. The first line, the setting descriptions, the action of the MC doing something that's clearly forbidden... I'm also so curious to see what you mean by "transplant heart." Being really nit-picky here, but how does she get discovered by the pursuers - does she make a noise, does the baby? All in all though such good atmosphere.

  10. I love how this beginning throws us right into the action. Within the first couple lines, I could feel the suspense, and I was right there with Reyna, worrying about being caught.

    As others have said, the "transplant heart" mention threw me a bit. I'm not sure if you need it here or if it breaks up the suspense. But it all really depends on how relevant that information becomes to the story and how fast it becomes important.

    I also want a bit more description of the baby and of Reyna's internal thoughts, but since this is only 250 words, I'm not necessarily expecting to find that here. I would just want it in the following pages.

    Ultimately, this opening is so suspenseful, I can't help but want to keep reading.

  11. Omg I LOVE these lines: "The tall grass stopped breathing. Or maybe she did."

    I was a bit confused by "the sounds of the pursuer," because I didn't catch that she'd been running from someone before. But that confusion might just be coming because I've only read the first 250 words and don't know what happens in the next few lines!

    Overall, there's a lot of tension in this beginning, and it makes me want to know what happens next!

  12. “transplant heart” is nicely set up.
    You’ve already said spiked cacti.
    “hiked the tundra in the presence of shadows” sounds awkward.
    The openings of her clothes? That’s a little unusual. Not sure what you mean.
    Perspiration can’t exactly hug your palms.
    The feel of it a reassurance (not “becoming” a reassurance). Just tighten it up.
    The content is great! I feel utterly transported to this unique place. So just work on the craft. Overall, it needs to be a little tighter, but very well done!

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