Wednesday, September 9, 2009

52 Secret Agent

TITLE: Treandle
GENRE: YA Fantasy

There it was, the distant sound she’d been waiting for, drifting down the lane. Scooting over to avoid the knots of the huge branch she was perched on, Cyrilla watched as golden rays of light fought their way through the fog trapped within the hundreds of oak trees lining the dirt road.

She shouldn’t be here. Her parents would send her to work in the barn if they found out. It was awful working there. The heat increased the noxious smell of manure and sweaty animals. Not like the fields where the breeze kept the sun at bay while the smell of wheat and trees mixed with the nearby river creating an intoxicating aroma.

The sound grew louder. Thundering hooves on the dirt road resonated through the trees, causing birds to flee the oncoming traveler.

Fear sliced through her mind as she realized her predicament. She could easily be spotted. Rushing for cover, she reached for the large branch above.

The horse’s hooves, racing with steady strides, came into view. Letting go of the trunk, she firmly grasped the branch above with both hands.

She could hear the horse’s strong legs moving with fluidity as she quickly climbed onto the branch above. Large, abundant leaves provided the perfect hiding spot, and unless someone was looking at her exact location, she was as good as invisible.

Looking down at the road, she watched as the horse’s rider came into view. Air seemed in short supply as she witnessed the most wonderful man she’d ever laid eyes on.


  1. I'm not exactly hooked. I think it depends on the query...?

    My thought right here is she is slacking instead of working in the barn. This is because she knows that every day at a certain time, this pretty guy goes galloping past.

    It's a good setup, especially if he turns out to be fairfolk or something (this is fantasy, after all), and she falls down in the road while in love-shock and trampled to death and brought back a little different....

  2. I don't know if I'm necessarily hooked, but I really like your writing style.

  3. Almost hooked. Nice voice. You need to bring the "sound" in the first paragraph so the reader knows what she's hearing the moment she hears it. Also, she waited for the sound, but "fear sliced through her." Yes, she didn't want to be spotted. Perhaps you should explain that first before she's terrified? It confused me because she looked forward to it but got scared.
    If I read more, I think this would hook me.

  4. Not hooked; at first it sounds like she's waiting for the horse and rider, but then when they come it sounds like she's surprised and has never seen them before. I think you need to clarify why she's in the tree in the first place. This clarification would probably change the whole flow and feel of this first page.

  5. Hi,
    I like your premise, so hooked...but might I offer:
    I'm a minimalist when it comes to description, only putting it with whatever moves the plot forward or setting a scene. So, if you like, look at the third sentence of the 2nd para-could be trimmed a bit.
    Pickies: 1st para "oak trees lining the dirt road" could be "oak tree forests lining the dirt road" because I think trees more than one row thcik along the road would hold the fog.??
    I didn't like the words: fluidity (too adult), man (I'm thinking boy or young man) and wonderful (because it's too abstract.
    Best of luck.

  6. Some of the word choices didn't sit well with me. I didn't like the phrase "fear sliced," or the man described vaguely as "wonderful." But fun set-up!

  7. Hmm...I'm hooked but would tweak the last sentence a little.

    Good Job!

  8. I was hooked until I got to witnessed the most wonderful man she'd ever laid eyes on.

    From that phrase alone, I'd pass, sorry.

  9. Could be hooked. I like the concept, and I like the feel of the world you've created here.

    On the other hand. The bulkiness of the first paragraph's final sentence jerked me out of the narrative, and the last sentence in the excerpt just made me snort (but not in a good way). Also, I found myself wondering what the distant sound was, so I really glossed over the second paragraph to find out. When I went back and actually read the second paragraph, I found that it didn't add much. So you probably don't need it (or as much of it as you have).

  10. This didn't really hook me. I can't pinpoint why, nothing really stands out to me as bad or wrong, maybe it's just not my kind of story...

  11. LOL, for some insane reason, I thought the mc was an owl! In the first bit, anyway, actually up until the point where she was the pretty man. Don't know why. Good writing, but nothing in the plot draws me in yet... but I'd read on to find out a little more before putting this one down

  12. Um and that should read... up until the point where she SAW the pretty man... it's late, what can I say

  13. Not hooked. There's not burning unanswered question here.

    She's expecting him, but then has to race for cover. I would have expected her to already be in a hiding place.

    She's deathly afraid of him, and then he's the most wonderful man she'd ever laid eyes on. Not interesting. Not beautiful. I just can't reconcile wonderful with fear.

  14. I was a little bit confused as to exactly what was going on, who she was, who the man was. The description was a little overlong for me too, dragging out sentences just a bit much.

    I was interested though and wanted to read a bit further.

  15. Bravo. You’ve created a bit of suspense, your writing flows, and you’re about 95 percent there. Just need to tighten some bolts before your writing is agent-ready. First off: Choose words the way a lawyer chooses jury members. Do horses hooves really drift? Do light rays fight? “Large abundant leaves?” Does that add anything unique to the reader’s mental picture? Also you speak of the” branch above” more than once.
    Secondly, be precise. Can you scoot to avoid knots.? Can you hear fluidity?
    Thirdly, remember you must keep your character in mind at all times. Would your protag notice sunlight fight through leaves in the excitement of the approaching horses? And speaking of your protag, she doesn’t have a unique voice yet. From this sample I don’t get a feeling for her personality at all. She sounds very adult.
    Finally, to put your reader in the experience instead of saying “she could hear” or “she watched” , simply state what’s happening, i.e. ‘Golden rays fought…” or ‘Horse’s strong legs…” We know we’re in the girl’s head so let her experiences wash over us.
    You're on your way!

    PS Last sentence: Why is wonderful? Show instead of tell.

  16. I really liked this, and I'm a fantasy reader so that's probably why.

    The descriptiveness of the initial paragraphs is something young female readers expect of this genre.

  17. I liked it-- but couldn't exactly say why. The writing has rhythm and pacing, and doesn't make me work hard to understand or stumble over too many words, or the wrong words. With one exception. The last line "witnessed" didn't seem to fit

  18. Not hooked, because I'm not intrigued enough about why she finds this man fascinating. why does she sneak off to see him? What is it about that scares her? What is it about him that intrigues her?

    It sounds like those answers may be coming up shortly, but if all I had was these 250 words, I'd want them now.

    Maybe we could get into Cyrilla's hwad a bit more, too, rather than have the description. I don't get a sense of who she is.

    With a little more work, this could be there.

  19. Not really hooked. The way she's behaving, I'm picturing more MG than YA. And I have no idea why she's hanging out in a tree of all places. Your voice is good...but seeing how this isn't some type of romance, you haven't pulled me in enough to care who this wonderful man is. Get to him quicker...and give me a reason to want to follow your MC on her journey.

  20. Hiya, I'm a newbie here, a sometime lurker, but I wanted to comment. I haven't read any of the other comments yet, so sorry if this repeats.

    The writing is pretty smooth in this, although it could probably be tightened. For example, with changing up how some emotions are represented, giving a few showing emotions instead of telling, like "fear slicing". There is anticipation building as the horse and rider come closer--good job. However, I'm just a little confused. In the last paragraph she seems . . . shocked by the rider's appearance, but the first paragraph implies she has been waiting for him. So it feels a little like false tension.

    Hope that helps.


  21. I was okay with this until I got to the point about seeing the most wonderful man. It's too vague and how does she really know he was wonderful?

  22. You have a clarity problem and its over writen.

    "The horse’s hooves, racing with steady strides, came into view." If she's in a tree how is it she can only see the horeses' hooves? Are the horses racing with heavy strides because here, you've got hooves doing the action, not horses.

    You don't need "heavey strides." I tried to imagine this and I can't begine to fathom what this means. If the horses are tired say that, If you mean they're fast, you've already said that.

    What distant sound does she hear? If it's worth mentioning, define it, otherwise your opening sentence promises vague writing.

    What does the sound have to do with the sun... we have this idea and then it's dropped to describe scenery... then the barn...then horse hooves.

    If she was waiting for the sound of hooves why is she then frightened by them?

    "Fear sliced through her mind as she realized her perdicament. "
    I hate this sentence because its vague. Don't spend time telling us what the charater has just realized they're in trouble. Tell us what the trouble is and why.

    Example. Fear sliced through her mind. If they spotted her, she would be killed. (Now we know what the stakes are and have a reason to care)

    Last sentece...Try: A rider came into view. "name here" caught her breath. He was the most beautiful man she had ever laid eyes on. (She can't know he's wonderful, unless she knows him. Stick to conclusions one can draw from visual apperance. Better yet, avoid "conclusion" words which are vague and just tell he's got a cleft chin and a washbaord stomach.)

    Finalal thoughts: I'm completely lost. On one hand she seems to be listening for horse hooves? On the other hand she seems to be afraid of them? On the other hand they don't seem to scare her at all?

    This is a good start though, so keep up the work and your efforts will pay off.

  23. I'm not really hooked. I think the writing is nice - but good visuals seem to be all I'm getting in the first to paragraphs. Add to that the few passive phrases and I'm not sure I'd read more.

  24. If she's expecting him, why does she suddenly realise she needs to hide? The second paragraph pulled me out of the story, but another commenter said young girls like those sort of descriptions, so perhaps I'm just the wrong audience.

  25. The concept hooked me, but it could be clarified a bit more. There's the confusion of whether the protagonist is looking forward to or dreading the approaching rider. Also, I thought there were several instances of two adjectives or descriptors where one would work for tighter, quicker (more YA-style) writing.

    (Also, and this is just me, but doesn't it seem backward that the fields--without any shade--kept the sun at bay? Wind and sun aren't mututally exclusive concepts.)

  26. The first thing I noticed was the tense change. The first paragraph was in past tense, and then suddenly, you switched to present tense for one sentence. It is an easy mistake to fix up, but it really jarred me as the reader.

    This needs a lot of tightening. The narrative and perspective jumps all over the place. Since it is only 250 words, it doesn't bode well for the rest of the story. Your images are nice, but you need to be selective about what you're showing.

    Good luck!

  27. This feels a bit overwritten, and so I would probably not keep reading.