Wednesday, April 15, 2009

50 Secret Agent

TITLE: Untold
GENRE: middle fiction

There would be no more waiting. With every detail in place, the Four stormed towards the village of Lafee. Fuelled with conviction, each one followed the leader over the sleepy landscape dotted with dwellings. Launching the plan was all that mattered.

Inside one of the smaller dwellings, Jacabo wrestled thoughts: once again, an entourage of possibilities had crept in during the night and refused to leave. He tugged his allotted corner of the quilt. The rest remained fixed around a snoring body. A cool breeze snuck up his exposed leg. Unimpressed by the gesture, he slipped from the bed and tiptoed over to the window. Gangs of trees were uprooted and twirling towards him. There was no time to react before his body froze, leaving his eyes to deal with the fear. When they could get no wider, he dived back into bed and yanked the cover over his head.

Shattered glass dispersed, letting in freezing air that rummaged through the house squealing with fury. Thick branches tried to squeeze through the broken glass. Those that failed remained plastered against the window. The wooden floor broke pattern, cracking open. Heirlooms smashed. Shelves of unread books split, dumping the rejects. Loose paper succumbed to the whirlwind of chaos and flew into the air, then just as quickly, a birth of silence ensued.

A wild animal sprung from the covers. Thick braids and flailing arms slashed his face as he grappled with the writhing body. It revolted, digging nails into his arms. Unable to stand the pain, he released his wife.


  1. You use some interesting words and word pictures, but I have to admit, I'm pretty lost. This jumps from people walking towards a village to this man wrestling with his thoughts to a messed-up house to this man's wife attacking him. I need an anchor here, something to hold on to, a character to get to know and relate to.

    Hope this helps! Good luck.

  2. I'm sorry, but this needs cleaning up. Your premise of attacking trees is original, but hard to connect with as a reader.

    first paragraph: I would say what the Four are or give a hint. After reading I assume they are the trees. Or leave this first paragraph out and start with your mc, Jacabo. Though for middle grade, you might want to have the mc be a child, not an adult.

    second para: You say Jacob wrestled thoughts but then you don't give those thoughts after the colon. You go into telling and him tugging on the quilt.
    Unimpressed by the gesture - I think you mean the gesture of the wind? Was the wind trying to impress him?
    What made him want to go to the window? Was there a noise?
    Just say, He froze. We'll know he had no time to react when you tell us he froze. To have both is a little repetitive.
    Would he really dive under the covers if trees were attacking? I'd think he'd wake his wife and go for the cellar.
    I think this second paragraph could be broken up into two for greater effect.

    Third para: I would start with what caused the shattered glass - the wind or the trees.
    Would freezing air rummage or whip through a house?
    I don't think thick branches would need to squeeze through but would just break more of the glass.
    A birth of silence ensued. - This seems a little too poetic for me for the tone of your story.

    fourth para: Given that wind and trees are attacking, I thought that it really was a wild animal. This paragraph seems a little overwritten, like you are trying too hard. Keep it simple.

    Sorry, but I'm not hooked. It feels like you have a good idea in there but the craft needs work. Good luck.

  3. Wow, a lot happening in a very short amount of time. Nice word choices and wonderful descriptions, but I had to reread several times and I'm still not really sure what is happening.

    Who are the Four in the first paragraph. You need to spell that out so we know who we are dealing with and what they want. I also thought Jacabo was a child since he's only allotted a small portion of the blanket. Then I thought the animal was one of the Four that had gotten into Jacabo's house.

    I feel this could be quite an adventure story, but for a first page, I'm lost and confused. Sorry...

  4. Very confusing. Not hooked. There is definitely 'possibility' here, just needs some work.

  5. This seemed to be several chapters trying to break out of though the ideas/concepts are bigger than the room allotted. This shows great imagery but it feels rushed which is distracting. Too many ideas at once makes it confusing and difficult to follow.

    Could maybe use stepping back and trying to decide what you're trying to accomplish with this introduction: who you're trying to introduce to the reader, why, where, when, what you're trying to hook us with. Focus the writing to make sure you're getting across what you're trying to.

  6. Intriguing premise that makes me want to read on, but I don't think I will because it's too overwritten for my taste. If it's for MG, I think you should lose the larger words and make it all more succinct. Sorry.

  7. I really like your first and last paragraphs. Both would make me read on, but I find the in-between paragraphs confusing. If you could relate and tighten those paragraphs, I think you'd have an interesting first page!

  8. It was confusing to me, too. The first paragraph seemed to have nothing to do with the rest of the story. What you describe sounds to me like a tornado, but would you have a tornado in freezing weather? I think maybe you're trying to hard to get excitement in the first page,slow down a little.

  9. This sounds more like an adult level novel than middle grade by the words you have chosen and the way you have described things.

    My suggestion would be to simplify it if you want to reach Middle grade readers.

    You have an unique way of describing things. Keep at it!


  10. You are definitely not a timid writer and that is an excellent thing. I was confused like some of the others, but if you can harness your flair for the descriptive a bit, figure out where it's good and where you don't need it, I think you'd have something.

    Middle fiction, though? If so, this feels more like a prologue since you open with a man and his wife. If it's not a prologue, who is your main character?

    I wasn't sure if the trees were actually alive and coming for him, or if it was just overwritten. These are the kinds of things that if scaled back, would bring more clarity.

  11. You have something different here, but I can't figure out what it is exactly. Much of the word choice seems incorrect, as the comments above have pointed out. Jacobo was unimpressed by the wind, and other phrases that would be much clearer with better word choice.

    It's not immediately clear who your MC is or who the Four are, or how they're connected to what's happening.

    With some tighter writing I have a feeling that this could be a very interesting story. Good luck!

  12. Sorry, but I was not hooked. The descriptions were nice, but alot was a little confusing.

  13. I mostly liked this and would read on to see what possessed his wife. Like others, I don't think this reads as middle-grade fiction, if that is your intent.

    Some things: he sees "gangs" of trees, but in the first paragraph there were just four, right? I liked the description of the air, it adds to the intense attack scene.

    Good luck!

  14. I like a lot of your words choices (though not sure they're middle grade), but there's a bit too much going on here up front. The rich language led me along, but I felt bounced around.

    The first paragraph starts to set a scene, the second paragraph starts to introduce Jacob's character, the third paragraph jumps into the action - maybe pick one of those things to flesh out enough to help bring the reader into the story?

  15. Hi! Done no peeping at previous comments, so this is all imo. :)

    This doesn't entirely draw me in. I think part of my problem is this feels like a prologue. The bad thing that happens before the story begins.

    Another thing... The first paragraph was fine, but I had a problem with the descriptions in the second paragraph onward. Also there might have been some telling there adding to the distant prologue feel.

  16. I couldn't get into this. What seems to be happening with your writing is that in an attempt to be unique, you are using words in very uncharacteristic ways. However, you've gone so far to the fringes of the meanings of some of these words that comprehension is compromised. The reader should never need to pause and try to decipher your sentences, or worse imagine how the sentence could be improved.

  17. Though I do like it, I wouldn't say I'm hooked just yet. Much of it feels a bit overwritten, and the sheer amount of words takes away from the great tension in here. Also, I think that first paragraph would be much stronger if centered more firmly in Jacabo's POV, rather than 3rd person omniscient narrator.

    Good luck with your writing!

  18. I like the writing, but I find this confusing. "Unimpressed by the gesture" confused me--what gesture? From the other comments, maybe it was the wind? But I don't usually think of breezes as making gestures.

    I had a hard time figuring out how old this character was. I would use "snoring body" in the first paragraph. Is it a brother, wife?

    If he's a grown man, why is he hiding under the covers?

    I was also confused by the last paragraph. Does he turn into an animal? Is he attacking his wife? Using 'it' to describe the body confused me further, I think.

    I think the main problem is this is too vague for me, if that makes sense.

    Does middle fiction mean middle grade? If so, this does seem like it was written for an older audience to me.

    I do like the way you describe things. I think I just need more details to understand it.

  19. I wasn't hooked because I never could get a clear connection to the or a MC. And the language and structure didn't sound MG to me.

  20. I was very confused by this. While I could get the general idea of what was happening, it took some effort. I definitely cannot imagine that the target audience of middle-grade fiction would find this easily digestible.

    I did not understand how the first paragraph related to the rest. If "the Four" and their plan are important, I would suggest sticking with them long enough to give the reader something to hang on to. If not, and you really want to start with Jacabo, I would save mention of the Four and their plan for later.

    I was distracted by strange word choices, particularly those that seemed to attribute human thought and motivation to non-sentient objects and ideas (i.e. "an entourage of possibilities had crept in during the night and refused to leave." or the idea that he was "unimpressed by the gesture" of the wind creeping up his leg).

    In general so many elements felt vague and detached that it was difficult for me to really care much about what was going on.

    "followed the leader"
    "Launching the plan was all that mattered."

    Who is the leader? Who are the Four? What is the plan? I don't need to know everything right off the bat, but I would like more than what I've been given.

    "Jacabo wrestled thoughts"
    ""an entourage of possibilities"

    What thoughts? Possibilities for what?

    "The rest remained fixed around a snoring body."

    Why not tell us whose body? Is there any reason to be vague here? Unless he doesn't know who is sleeping next to him, this seems strange.

    "A wild animal sprung from the covers."

    I'm pretty sure you're likening "the snoring body"'s reaction to that of a wild animal. But this is too vague for me.

    "Thick braids and flailing arms slashed his face as he grappled with the writhing body."

    Can braids slash a face?

    "It revolted, digging nails into his arms."

    Referring to "the writhing body" as "it" is another example of distancing. I get the feeling that you want to save the reveal of "his wife" for the last sentence, but I see no reason to do so. It feels a little coy, like you're trying to trick the reader.

    I'm sorry, I just wasn't pulled in. I think you've got an interesting story to tell, but the craft issues definitely held me back.

  21. I haven't figured out why this is MG. It seems too old, and the only character who isn't being an observer seems to be a wife we meet at the very end of the page. I thought the four were people at first, but I get the idea they are trees?

    I know we're expected to jump right into excitement and action, but I need to know more about what's going on and who it's happening to first.

    I hope you can find a way to fix this, because it sounds like an interesting idea - warrior trees and such.

  22. I'm having trouble understanding what's going on here. This feels overwritten to me, especially for middle grade. Several places don't seem to flow:
    Unimpressed by the gesture, he slipped from the bed and tiptoed over to the window. What gesture? I don't get this sentence.
    Shelves of unread books split, dumping the rejects. Is there some significance to the books being unread? Why are the books rejects?

    Those are a couple of places that seem overdone or not to make sense to me. I do like the variety of sentences, some short, some long, nicely presented. Still, I'm afraid I'm not hooked. I don't feel connected to the first group of people or the second two people.

  23. Your talent is evident here. That said this needs work. We start of in the POV of the Four, then jump to the POV of Jacob. Also, as written most of your sentences don’t make sense. “Unimpressed by the gesture,” is good writing but in the context I don’t what it means and more than I understand “a breeze snuck up his leg.” Generally breezes don’t sneak under the covers then crawl up legs as your sentence implies. Sneaking is an action, not a gesture, and unless you give us a reason to be impressed by a breeze, readers don’t need to be told it’s unimpressive. These problems are repeated. I might read a few pages, but it’s not ready to be published. And because you’re talented, I think you can fix this, but you need to put some distance between yourself and this, write a hundred other things, then come back to it.

  24. I found this confusing, but there are some great ideas in it. I think, perhaps, taking a little more time to clarify what is going on would benefit this.

  25. Untold needing a breakApril 17, 2009 at 1:42 PM

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I have decided to rethink my genre, rethink my method of writing and give this piece breathing space.

  26. What the? Huh? I'm completely confused.

    Plus, this is rampantly overwritten.

    Definitely not hooked.

  27. Don't be discouraged author! You have talent and you're able to do something millions of people can't. Your first page had some really interesting elements. Just sharpen your pencil and try again.

  28. This is a little confusing. Although I like some of the language towards the beginning, the last couple of paragraphs sputtered out. It seems disjointed at the end, which doesn't help the confusion factor.