Wednesday, April 15, 2009

49 Secret Agent

TITLE: Dragonseeker
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Eryn pushed through the iron gate and stormed inside the garden. The beauty of the secluded scape did nothing to soothe her anger. Everyone kept talking about how wonderful Mum was, and complete strangers agreed with him.

But they didn’t know her mother. They couldn’t possibly understand what it felt like to lose her.

She pulled at the formal braids she’d been forced to wear and threw her coronet to the ground. She loathed that piece of elven-made silver and all it represented. Especially now. Mum was dead. She left Eryn all alone. No one else would ever understand her, not like Mum did.

Everyone just tolerated her. They had to, because of her father. Bad enough being a half-blood, but with her outbursts…

Eryn knew what her tutors and nannies said about her behind closed doors. She was the freak of the kingdom.

The weight of her mother’s necklace against her throat choked her. Eryn ripped the pendant from her neck and glared at the eight-sided disc. Her reflection stared back; strands of pearls woven into her dark messy hair and pale, pointy ears. She touched the tip and ran a finger along the edge. She wasn’t an elf; not really. Her ears were the only sign that she had any elvish blood at all. Her brother had inherited their mother’s abilities and edere light. Rosse could talk to trees and animals. All Eryn could do was…that thing.

She might as well be all human. She wasn’t anything like her mother.


  1. I liked this entry but there were a couple of things that stopped me cold. The description of an "eight sided disc" threw me beacuse I take a disc to be round (wouldn't an eight sided disc be an octagon?)

    Also the line "Complete strangers agreed with him". Shouldn't it be them?

    Bottom Line: I would read on.

  2. I like Eryn. She seems like a great character with quite an emotional battle inside. But there were several contradictions in the piece that pulled me from the story... i.e. 'complete strangers agreed with him.' Who's HIM? And why would she be angry that they are agreeing that her mother was wonderful? It made me think that maybe her mother wasn't so wonderful, but then you comment on how alone she felt without her mother, that noone else could understand her... she obviously loves her mother.

    I like how you elude to the elfin images and magic. Is this some kind of coronation or something, what with the pearls in her hair and throwing her coronet. Is was a funeral? I'm just kind of lost in the image.

    I'm also a little confused that she is a half-blood. Her father must be the human, so how can he carry any weight in the land of the elves? And if she's a freak, wouldn't her brother also be a half-blood?

    Would just like things a little clearer to read on.

  3. I definitely got the 'young adult' feel of this story. The characters thoughts are chaotic and believable. There was a sense of isolation about her as well as a sense of desperation to be anything but 'tolerated' and a 'freak'.

    At first I thought her father was an Elf, but then it seemed her mother was the Elf. Perhaps some clarification so that your reader knows right away who is/isn't the Elf.

    I would probably keep reading just a bit on this to see what was going on, but I'm not totally hooked at this point. Good work.

  4. I was hooked and would definitely read on! I only got stuck on a couple things. The italics threw me a little--I would consider removing some of them. I'm not sure you need dead italicized. It actually might have more effect without the italics. Also, at the end of the first paragraph, using everyone and him sounds off to me.

    But other than that, great job! I loved the second last paragraph.

  5. I had trouble with this sentence-Everyone kept talking about how wonderful Mum was, and complete strangers agreed with him. I was unclear who 'him' was.

    Other than that, it had a nice description and seemed to open to a promising story.

    I would read on.

  6. I have to agree with the above comments regarding the "...complete strangers agreed wtih him." I had to re-read the paragraph a couple of times because I thought I missed something. Again, who is "him?"

    Using a reflection to describe Eryn to the reader is a little cliche, but overall, good job evoking Eryn's frustration.

  7. I agree with the other comments on this, however I do like the idea of leaving us hanging with the mention of "that thing...". That alone entices me to read more! I also like how you brought Eryn's anguish forward--so teenage like!

  8. Good job on working the angst and dropping in the story hook. I'm curious what direction you take after this opening. You have your market in mind with your style--that's good.

    I would continue to read on.

    (I think I saw the query for this? That might have me intrigued a bit too as I know what she has to do. If I am linking this to the wrong query--forgive me. Either way, I am intrigued.)


  9. I'd get rid of the first paragraphs as they are all telling. I'd start with "The weight of her mother's necklace choked her." This is brilliant in that it (probably) aptly identifies your protagonist's story worthy problem. You don't need "against her neck". Since it is a necklace, I figured as much.

    I like the writing and I'd read more to see if it kept up or if there were more problems of show don't tell and redundancy.

  10. I like it and would read on. The "him" at the end of the first para. threw me too. I like how you've described her with the pointy ears and braids and hinted about that thing she can do.

  11. I have a soft spot British YA and I think the voice is cute. My only concern is I'd want to see the plot go in an original direction. I'll have to keep reading to find out!

    I would take another look at this: Mum was dead. She left Eryn all alone. No one else would ever understand her, not like Mum did.
    Everyone just tolerated her. They had to, because of her father.

    I think the line "everyone tolerated her" is cute. But, the problem is that it seems like an odd thing to say about someone who has passed away. Especially when right above she says no one else would ever understand her. Which one is it?

    Good work.

    - AK

  12. I really liked 'she might as well be all human' that had a definite character feel to it that read well and was freighted with depth and texture. Makes me want to read on.

    Minor quibble: she pushes through the gate while storming inside the garden in the first sentence, setting up everything else..'pushed through' seems to me to be too 'mild' of a verb there...especially to be followed so quickly by 'stormed' and 'anger.' I wanted that first sentence to have more heft and punch.

    And, ditto to all on 'him' at the end of that paragraph...

  13. Good internal conflict with this character and we get a lot about her and her family in a believable way. I'd keep reading.

    The only thing that threw me was "that thing." It felt almost like a lead-on directed at me, the reader, to make me question what it could be...and if you don't explain it in the next paragraph or so, then it might bother me rather than intrigue me. I wonder if it would feel like a more natural thought if it were along the lines of "Eryn's only ability was useless/embarrassing/weak." (You wouldn't have to reveal it, but it could still be mysterious without being so emphasized that it's distracting).

  14. You might have guessed, but the "him" at the end of the first paragraph threw me too. The word "freak" also seemed to modern for the character. I liked how you left me hanging with "that thing". I easily fell into the story otherwise and would read on.

  15. This isn't my genre but I enjoyed your 250. I especially like the last paragraph (how funny that being human is a drag ;-)). Well done!

  16. To the point and clear. Not my genre,but easy to read.

  17. Hi! Done no peeping at other comments, so all imo. :)

    Yes, hooked.

    Great characterization with Eryn (kept reading her name as Bryn which I liked too). Love all the character, story, and world details you sneaked in.

  18. I'm completely hooked. I liked the voice and how immediately I felt 'in' the head of the character.

  19. I think a stronger opening line would improve this.

    I thought this could be made stronger by starting with the line, "The weight of her mother's necklace against her throat choked her."

    There is a bit of telling in here, a bit of infodumping that could be thinned out, interspaced between some action or in a scene with some conflict.

    Good luck!

  20. Author here! Thanks for the great suggestions and crits, guys! I really appreciate the comments! The "him" is a typo on my part (blushes embarrassedly) and will be fixed in the final copy.

    Amy-have to ask...what made you think I'm British? I'm flattered, as I love the Brits...but I'm from New Jersey.

  21. I liked your voice and the way the details were added along the way.

    The use of 'Mum' threw me. It jarred for elven speak.

    But I would definitely read on.

  22. I would read on - very enjoyable. "She might as well be all human" is a great line. It sets up genre and mood all at the same time - it would make a great lead line too!

  23. Obviously you can write. I have one positive and one negative. The negative being that in the first 250 words you describe your character through a reflection. Even though, it's not a mirror, it's still a reflection. I guess further along in the book it would be easier to get away with that. That's just a cliche I try to stay away from all together. But, you've got to know the rules before you can break them, and you seem to know them. So breaking them is your choice.

    Positive? The biggest hook for me is what it is that Eryn could do differently. That makes me want to read on.

    One other thing I noticed. You seem to be in the sequel part of the scene-sequel structure. Maybe a better place to start would be with her in the funeral experiencing the looks and showing us the intoleration. Then we will immediately empathize with her when she storms away. Just a thought.

  24. I think this is a cler start, but would be more effective and tighter if it didn't oversell her grief. It felt emotionally repetitive, which slowed it down and dulled it.

    I'd be tempted to start with her pulling off the necklace that chokes her, and only saying once her mother has left her.

    It just felt very "telly" when with some tightening up it could be very emotional and tense. But worth working on to tighten and tense up. :}

  25. Didn't read earlier comments, so this may be redundant.

    First paragraph - confused as to who "him" is.

    Eryn does a lot of throwing and ripping and pulling. How old is she?

    One more thing, her hair is tightly braided, but when she sees herself in the disc, she has dark messy hair. Can't see that being possible when it's tied up in braids.

    But I still love the idea of fairies and elves, so I would read on anyway once you fixed these minor nits. Girl with an identity crisis is always a good choice for me.

  26. Mostly I like this. A few items:
    Everyone kept talking about how wonderful Mum was, and complete strangers agreed with him.
    Who is "him?" There were a number of other small issues i had; no big deal individually but taken together, I think it needs a little tightening. I didn't like the incomplete sentence. Small things like:
    Especially now. Mum was dead. Two short sentences in a row that I think would have read better as "Especially now that Mum was dead." Is the next sentence necessary? Is it even true? She seems to have a father and brother.

    I'm hooked, and I'm reading a middle grade book right now that imho isn't as well-written as this. Still, I think this could be better with tweaking.

  27. "Everyone kept talking ... strangers agreed with him" confused me. Is that a typo?

    I like how you've slipped in some interesting details about this world, but it did seem like a lot of backstory.

    Good luck!

  28. The first sentence didn’t grab me and I’m not real found of stormed. Seems you can’t have a YA novel without this angst ridden word. Stormed is best served in moderation, but really I don’t think we need our MC to both push the iron gate and storm – she can getting into the garden just as easily if she does jus one. “The beauty of the secluded scape did nothing to soothe her anger.” This sentence made me groan because this attempt to bring in setting is award and boring. Then we loose all action to get an internal diatribe that is loaded with teenage angst and an information dump loaded with backstory. There is an interesting story here and you can even keep the angst, just dial it down. Withholding what “That thing” is, isn’t enough reason for me to read more. Also, probably a dead horse by now, but he isn’t everyone.

  29. Interesting, but could perhaps be trimmed down a little? I was intrigued by 'that thing' - I'd read on, because I'd like to know what it is that cause such dislike in her.

  30. I think this is something I might read, but not represent. I'm not in love of the idea of an angry MC -- I don't want to spend my time with someone so annoyed at the world.

    There's also some fantasy cliche here, as well as writing cliche -- describing your MC by having her look at herself in a reflective surface, for instance.

    Not hooked, I'm afraid.

  31. The rhythm of the writing echoes the melodrama of the setup. er-yn KNEW what her TUtors and NANnies SAID about her beHIND closed doors. SHe was the FREAK of the KINGdom. the WEIGHT of her MOTHer's NECKlace AGAINST her THROAT CHOKED her. THUMPityTHUMPityTHUMP!!!

    I don't feel I can trust the author's honesty, as if this isn't a character the author really sympathizes with or cares about--just wants to use her to show us a moral.

    Don't show me a moral. It's rude.

  32. The elves, the half-bloods, the made up words...all a little too trite for me. Also, what is an eight-sided disc? I have trouble with characters that start off being whiny, it doesn't make me want to read more.