Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #5

TITLE: The Shadow of the Tree
GENRE: YA Fantasy

The chirping of the crickets sharpened as Hauk slipped out of his hut. Somewhere in the forest, a barking owl claimed its territory. The humid warmth of the day still lingered, but the camp lay in darkness, the moon hiding in clouds. Hauk held still and scanned the circle of grass huts. His eyes were adjusted to the deeper dark inside, but he had to strain them to see all the way to the other side of the grounds. Embers still glowed in some of the fireplaces, but none of the other kids were up and about.

Still, his heart fluttered as he stole across the encampment.

He was cutting it close. The Guardian had just finished her nightly patrol. She could still be lurking around. You’d think she was an elder, not a kid like the rest of them, the way she stuck to the rules of her task.

When Hauk passed the camp entrance, a ray of light flickered in the corner of his eye. His head snapped toward it, and he stopped short in his tracks. Nothing but trees, just as it should be. But he could have sworn there was something. Check or continue? It would only take a moment, and if anyone saw him, he could claim he needed a pee. Hauk prayed to Light no dry sticks hid beneath the soft grass and tip-toed between two of the huts. At the outskirts of the camp the forest lay before him, dark and desolate.


  1. I love this opening. The sensory details are nicely blended in with Hauk's actions and his thoughts and emotions, so we get a sense of this world without it feeling like exposition. You raise a lot of questions for me: why is Hauk sneaking about? Who is this guardian? What will happen if he gets caught? I'm ready to keep reading to find out the answers.

  2. This is intriguing and hits the balance between drawing a clear scene (with a goal-focused character!) while also withholding the right amount and kind of information. You draw readers in by making them hungry to solve the mystery of what, exactly, this character is up to. ;)

    Bonus: the line-level writing is tight and overall lovely. Really nice work.

  3. I liked this, I liked the atmosphere of it and I have all kinds of questions. I would read on to find out what Hauk is up to. I like the visual of the dark and desolate forest just beyond...I think I would go back to the hut and hide under the covers but I bet he won't!

  4. A couple of comments:
    -There's an imbalance between your tone and your tension. I think you're trying to create an "edge of your seat" tension but the use of long sentences with heavy description does the opposite. If his heart is fluttering from nerves, it would not make sense for him to notice the lingering humid air and the moon hidden by clouds.
    -When you write,"His head snapped toward it" you're giving the action to his head rather than him. Unless he's having an out-of-body experience, it should always be given to him.

    Good luck!

  5. Great job raising questions and establishing tension early on! To me, there were a few too many descriptions in the first paragraph. I had to read through several times to make sure I was envisioning scene correctly. Overall though, a nice start!