Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #4

TITLE: The Curse
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Cynthia sat in the gloom of her tower library, thumbing through the dusty pages of an old encyclopedia. The flickering light of the candle tree did little to ease the strain of her eyes after a long day reading. Twenty-seven volumes of magical tales, memoirs, fantasies, and histories of magic had her ripe for sleep. Only hope kept her searching.

"Wa-, wh-, wi- Witches, witchcraft, history of- The unnatural magick of the human race was first thought possible by King Garand I during the Fire Siege of the North... " It sounded dull, but she kept on. Something about alchemists and an unwanted history lesson made her skip ahead. A bloody war and, ugh--unnecessary details--she skipped some more.

"What about curses?" she asked, as if the book would answer. "How do I break a curse?" The next few paragraphs talked of Bartholomew the Wise, the Hexus Demon, a magical plague, and ended giving her nothing of use. Cynthia rubbed her eyes, trying to summon the same hope over the next entry. "Witchcraft, modern uses and ailments-"

She turned the page and jumped up, screaming. A huge cockroach skittered out of a hole in the book and across the page toward her hand. Book and bug went flying across the room as Cynthia beat wildly at her skirt (in case there were more) and shrieked at the bug.

"Go eat someone else's books!" The bug disappeared through a crack in the wall and Cynthia stared at the crumpled volume, less willing to touch it now.


  1. Hooked, but I'd read a few more pages before I'd really make a decision. I like this, but I also want to know a little about this MC that will make me care about the character.

    Good luck with SA!

  2. Well, I certainly could identify with your character when the cockroach appeared. My reaction exactly!

    I'm wondering if there's just a tad bit too much detail regarding her searching for curses. I think you could shorten this up a bit and get right into the story itself a little quicker. But, that's just my opinion. There's nothing wrong with it, I'm simply not sure it's helping. I'd rather know why she wants to find out about curses than read about stuff she isn't even interested in.

    good luck!

  3. I'm not sure if you're starting at exactly the right place here. On the one hand, I'm intrigued by the idea of the curse she's trying to break. On the other hand, reading through an encyclopedia isn't particularly thrilling for a first page. It could still work, though, if you had more urgency apparent in her search. Something that indicates why she would be impelled to spend all this time perusing a textbook. (Hey, I've done it, but I'm not the heroine of a fantasy novel. ;)

  4. I love the idea of a curse to be broken, but her dialogue here didn't seem natural to me. Maybe italicized inner thoughts instead? I didn't think the parenthetical comment was necessary. I am definitely curious to find out more about this curse. Good job

  5. I agree with the comment about whether you are starting in the right place. The opening paragraph didn't hook me, but I sense there is a good story here.

  6. The curse seems to be the important thing here, and you never get to it. Tell us what it is. That will draw readers in. We can't empathize with her because we don't know what her problem is.

    The cockroach scene livened things up a bit, but is it relevant? Does anything happen because of it? When she jumps up, does she see the exact book she's looking for, or is it just an incident to cause some excitement?

    As is, there's just not enough here to keep me reading. Telling us what the curse is could make all the difference.

  7. Not hooked.

    Rev up your first sentence so it hooks me and end it with an astonishing word.

    First sentences are sometimes all agent read.

    Good luck.

  8. The first three paragraphs are difficult to read. As the main character herself states, the books sound dull. Reading about someone who is reading something dull is kind of...not as much fun as it could be.

    I loved when the cockroach skittered out of the book though. Wonderful! I think if you started like this: "Cynthia sat in the gloom of her tower library, thumbing through the dustry pages of an old encyclopedia. She turned the page and jumped up, screaming. A huge cockroach...." that would be a much better beginning. THEN you explain why she's in the library, I think that would be more of a grabber.

  9. I'd read the next few pages to see what happens. If they were essentially consisting of Cynthia reading information from the book, I'd stop. It would be too obvious of backstory and somewhat of an info dump.

    Curses ARE always fun though...

  10. Cockroaches- yuck! I feel as if this could be so much more if you started earlier. Build up the anticipation for this really cool moment. I also don't feel like I know the MC enough to really identify with what she is doing and how necessary this task is for her. Regardless, I loved how this is set in a library with a bunch of really cool books!

  11. I have to agree with the others that you might consider shortening up the research aspect and concentrate on the curse itself. Work on a great first line, too ... that's what I've learned from my comments so far, which have been very helpful. I do like this and would keep going. Keep the cockroach if it's significant to the story, or to your MC's personality (is she really that skittish?).

  12. There was a charm to this that had a pull to it. A certain frivolity of the hint of fun read and I can see why the agent would say they'd read on with certain qualms as to whether they were going to continue to enjoy that charm and somewhat spontaneity. The voice is nice.

  13. I think this story could be really good. I don't think you're starting in the right place. I would start this with the book and the bug. Keep us wanting to know what she was reading.

  14. Not quite hooked. Mostly all right writing, but the scene just lacks some conflict and tension. I'm curious why she wants to know more about curses, but it's not quite enough to keep me going. Could be entirely personal, though!

    Good luck with this :)