Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #8

TITLE: Into The Mazewood
GENRE: MG Fantasy

Maeve Juniper’s father had returned early from his Expedition, and she was not even halfway prepared.

“Maeve!” called her tutor, Ms. Arrowroot, from the bottom floor of their apartment. “If you don’t hurry up, we’ll be late for the assembly!”

“I’m coming!” Maeve shrieked, though she was not. She stood in the middle of her attic room amidst a pile of books, snapping her suspenders against her shoulder with a thumb and chewing on her lip as hard as she could. Her heart raced in her chest like a mouse trapped in one of the Conservatory greenhouses.

She was equal parts delighted and discombobulated. No one had expected the Expedition team to return from the Mazewood in just three months. Beyond the carefully engineered glass walls of the Conservatory, the Wood stretched to the ends of the earth, as far as anyone knew. Its paths were ever-changing and full of obstacles, and that was doubly true this time of year during the Bloom, with everything growing and flowering. The Expeditioners’ goal was to map the Mazewood—as much of it as they could manage—and it seemed impossible for them to have gotten very far in so short a time.

Maeve knew her dilemma was small in comparison, but she still thought her heart might burst from the indecision. She’d planned to sit for the Apprentice Botanist’s entrance exam before her father came back, so that when he saw her next, she'd have a white coat like all the other Botanists.


  1. There are some intriguing details here that hint at the wider world you've created, and I am curious to know more. I do wonder if the first sentence is the right way to start things off. It's an exposition-heavy statement, but then it shifts immediately into the scene of Maeve in the attic. Maybe start with her there instead, and insert the info about her father's early return at the start of the fourth paragraph.

    A few stylistic things. You have two separate figurative statements about her heart, first comparing it to a mouse and then about it bursting from indecision. It feels a little like mixing metaphors. Consider other imagery to describe her excitement and uncertainty.

    There are a lot of long, multi-clause sentences in the fourth paragraph, which isn't surprising as you're providing lots of useful exposition. But it might help to break up some of them into smaller pieces.

    Overall it shows a lot of promise. Good luck!

  2. I agree with the first commenter that perhaps the start could occur a bit later, where Maeve "stood in the middle of her attic room..." We could learn more gradually about her father and the Expedition. Your world sounds fascinating! I'd be happy to just get a few teasers about it in paragraph four, though, interspersed with Maeve's current situation. More could come later, perhaps?

  3. I find this a little telly. Instead of telling us he came back early and she's not prepared, you could show her surprise as he walks in and yells "Hello" and then use her thoughts and actions to show that she's not ready. This is assuming that he has just come home now. If he came home a few days ago, I think you need to revise this so it makes sense for her to suddenly be panicking now.

    Good luck!

  4. I LOVE every part of this opening. Fabulous voice and a fantastic world set up. I want to know why this team is back so early. I’m completely hooked and would absolutely read on! Excellent job here!