Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #43

TITLE: Ardent
GENRE: Adult Women's Fiction

The mere possibility that the cougar was in Cassidy’s vicinity gave her a shiver of exhilaration, although it wasn’t clear who was stalking whom. Everyone is someone’s son or daughter, and the cat had inherited its otherworldly ways from its mother, just as Cassidy was born with the earth medicine secrets of her grandmothers. Plagued by questions with no answers, she knew that seeking her mother’s spirit cat was the only solution; she had come to the Slender Forest to present herself. The time had come.

Nothing felt right anymore. Everything that had been the basis of her existence had altered, in both subtle and obvious ways, until she woke unsure of what to expect from each day. For seventeen years, she had followed the seasons—the stars, sun, and moon. She had mimicked only her mother, with no other role models to confuse her sense of how to proceed. Growing up in the wilderness had offered endless opportunities for hunting, fishing, and spending time alone. But while the young woman’s unique character shone relentlessly, it had never caused her angst and longing. Until now.
The Slender Forest bordered the river, eventually succumbing to the cliffs that towered over the landscape. Her steps fell on familiar ground. In fact, her mother walked the same path every morning, before the sun crested. Celia Waters would scramble up to the lookout, along with her spirit cat, to welcome each day.


  1. There's a lot of exposition here. There's so much information that it's hard for me to keep track of it all. I'd like it to slow down so I could get grounded in the character. What are her sensations?

    I like how there's a cougar, and the idea that it's not clear if she's stalking the cougar or vice versa. Maybe slow down that first paragraph and show us her sensations and emotions, and bring in just a hint or two about her mother and the magical elements of the story.

  2. I feel like you start at an interesting point, with the main character being hunted by a cougar. Then the second paragraph drops a lot of exposition, taking away from any sense of urgency about her being hunted. A lot of that could be moved later. Rather than explanation about the past, what I really need in that moment is explanation about why she's being hunted by a cougar and how she's going to get out of this situation.

  3. I agree with the other commenters. Let's slow this down a bit. There's so much to unpack, even just in the first paragraph. Can we stretch that first scene out a bit? Really get into her mind as she's stalking? Let's hear her thoughts and how her spirit cat/mother--are they the same? A little unclear--is influencing her thoughts and actions. As a cat lover, especially of big cats, I'd love to read this and learn what it would feel like to have a spirit cat inside someone. :)

  4. You often hear that is important to start a story in action—but this feels like a case where the action is too big and too soon. I have no idea where we are, and no connection to the narrator, so the fact that she is by a cougar and potentially being stalked feels more jarring than intriguing. Give us a little time to get to this point. It’s important to start IN action, but it doesn’t have to be at the biggest point of the scene.

  5. Aside from a single shiver and some steps, this is entirely narration and backstory. I think we need some more action with less thoughts interspersed throughout.

    Good luck!

  6. The first paragraph was kind of confusing and then it all fell into backstory and explanation. I would prefer something happening. As it is, it is hard to jump into the story with this beginning.

  7. I felt this beginning reads more like fantasy. Also the MC is 17 which would seem to be YA.I would suggest you give her name sooner. is the mother Celia or the MC? I think your premise is interesting but how you introduce the characters may need some tweeking.

  8. This just didn't grab me. It was too much backstory and exposition, which I don't always mind, at the beginning. It was overload.