Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #50

GENRE: Young adult fantasy

Something big and slimy made its way along the riverbank. It heaved and slithered, and rolled itself inwards and outwards. It was enormous, vile, and dripping with something so grotesque that the foliage that it did not crush on its clambering path wilted and shrank by force of proximity.

Water sloshed, attempting to run and drip away from the putrid creature, even as the muddy beast sucked droplets into itself, only to heave them out again in a relentless cycle of water and mud. Trees groaned and swayed in futile attempts to move away as the creature's gray shadow slid across the earth and touched their roots with the guile of a clever snake.

As the monster trudged along at no great speed, all sorts of other creatures, substantial and ethereal, hurried to get away.

Except for one.

The River Queen watched from a safe distance, her gleaming eyes boring holes into the invader.
The shawl of water she wore about her person shimmered with indignation as she observed the growing chaos and inhaled the smell the creature left in its wake. She flipped her glossy hair backwards, shaking droplets of water around like little stars as her blue eyes turned to icy glaciers.

No great blob of putrescence was going to beat her. No stinking beast of mud was going to claim her river for its own.

With growing rage, she watched the destruction the beast left behind.


  1. I like the entrance of the River Queen into the story, and I'm interested in finding out what happens next. I would probably tone down some of the descriptive adjectives, though. As a reader I find myself skimming over them to find out what's going to happen.

  2. young adult writerJuly 14, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Sorry, don't like big and slimy. Maybe more description?

  3. I really like your descriptive style, and I aready like the River Queen as a character and you've only mentioned her. That's a good sign! Keep up the awsome work! But I do agree with oung Adult Writer that the first sentece could have more of a WOW factor. Everything else is super discriptive, just not that part. I'm hooked.

  4. Its different- I like it! And I agree with those above me, the River Queen's entrance is pretty cool. I might watch some of the wordage though as there were a couple parts I had to re-read to understand what you had said. But besides that I like it:)

  5. I thought this had a lot of good things going for it. Nice icky descriptions, a hint of plot, tone and mood. You've established tension and potential conflict. Lots of reasons to read on.

    I did think you could be more specific in your descriptions. A lot of it is vague and abstract.

    And the River Queen is watching the destruction the creature is leaving in its wake, and yet, you don't show us that creature destroying anything. It's just oozing along and things are trying to escape its path.

    As the monster trudged - perhaps change trudged. It implies a walking gait and this thing doesn't appear to have legs or walk.

    I'd read on a bit more to see if you delivered on what this promises.

  6. I like it a lot. I agree with the others regarding the River Queen; she is as regal and unparsed by calamity as a person of power should be. However, though I like the elements of your story, I'm not too keen on some aspects of your writing.

    Permit me to point out a few.

    "...It was enormous, vile..."

    This is telling and quite redundant because you mention the same image in the first sentence.

    "...and dripping with something so grotesque that the foliage that it did not crush on its clambering path wilted and shrank by force of proximity..."

    This sentence is overwritten and awkward. Plus, there is no need to say "clambering path" as we already got the prior image that it is(Slithering is, well, cumbersome).

    "...only to heave them out again..."

    You cannot heave water; a pitcher of water, but not the thing itself. Redact this and use a stronger verb.

    "...Trees groaned and swayed in futile attempts to move away as the creature's gray shadow slid across the earth and touched their roots with the guile of a clever snake..."

    Once again, overwritten. You are trying to stuff too much information into one sentence and it leaves the reader winded (if they try to read it aloud). But one of your biggest flaws is repeating the same thing verbatim. At the ending of this sentence you say: "...touched their roots with the guile of a clever snake..." First of all, the word "guile" denotes intelligence and cannot be compared to movement. And, secondly, we get the idea that this beast is slithering and snake-like, so there is no need to say so yet again.

    There are a few others, but I won't get into them here.

    Overall, you have a very intriguing story that is so my type of thing. Watch out for that pesky overwriting, repetition and redundant adverbs. Clean that up, and you'll have gold, my friend!

    Hooked, lined and centered!

  7. I would definitely read more of this. The beginning gets right into the action and held my attention. The only thing I had a problem with was all the descripive words, which tend to make the writing boring if you use too many. Otherwise, this isn't bad. I liked the River Queen.

  8. You create the feeling of this thing oozing along quite effectively.

    Not sure why, but this is feeling more MG than YA to me.

  9. I'd start with the River Queen paragraph. It's exciting and draws me in. Also, it leaves more mystery as to the slimy creature--merely a "great blob of putrescence", which is a lot more intriguing than the first three paragraphs, which say almost too much. If you begin with the River Queen, I'd definitely read on.

  10. Not hooked but I liked the River Queen. However, I had to read the 'eyes boring holes...' portion twice because given this is fantasy at first I thought maybe she IS doing that, but its clear in the sentences afterward that she's not. Plus I think of that phrase as a cliche.

    As some others have indicated cutting some of the description and narrowing in on the most vivid ones would help mimize repetitiveness.

    Best of luck!

  11. Hmm, I'm a sucker for a good, gruesome description, and I like this beginning a lot. There are a few places that could be tightened, but overall I really like it. We're immediately grounded, and there's some breathing space in your writing. Good job.

  12. Well, I loved it! The writing tends to be heavy-handed/melodramatic in a few places, yes. BUT, I could see and nearly smell this thing. And I love "great blob of putrescence." What a phrase.

    Fun stuff! I like your style.

  13. The opening was cinematic, and I often quite like that. We're just seeing this monster rampaging the river bank. The descriptions of the blob might have gone on a bit too long, for my taste.

    I was really hoping for something quite unique - some character to appear there ready to take on the monster. The Queen didn't really do it for me, though. What makes her unique?

    Anyway, it was interesting, but didn't really grab me.

  14. I like some of the images here, but I also believe it is a bit bogged down by descriptions, if you could edit it down a little it would read smoother.

  15. I like this, but agree with others that it needs to be tightened a bit. The River Queen is fantastic! Love that character for sure.

  16. I've read some of the other comments, but not all. I agree that the River Queen is well described. But some of the other descriptions leave something to be desired. The first sentence is a prime example. "Something big and slimy" is very vague and doesn't give me much confidence in you as a writer. Reading on, it's obvious that you are a good writer from the River Queen part, so I agree with the others who say to start there, or at least much closer to that section.

  17. I liked the River Queen, too, but again, like others, I thought the description at the beginning was heavy-handed.

  18. It does seem overwritten...and yet, I'll say that behind that is pure writing genius (once you get past the first three lines which, for some reason, come across really juvenile).

    The way you've given life to the inanimate objects is fantastic. But too much genius is still too much and overwritten. Once you learn to edit out the extras and identify which of your sentences is amazing and which are cliche and boring, your writing will be positively amazing! You've seriously got something special buried in here.

    I also agree with the others that I almost quit reading before I got to the River Queen. And yet...I don't know that she would have had the impact she did without the setup you gave. So I don't know what the answer is. Maybe give more life to those substantial and ethereal creatures? Instead of starting with something big and slimy, maybe start by letting us see the creatures running from it? Just an idea...I honestly don't know how it would work. But that would make us care a bit more, while still keeping your setup for the River Queen.

    Plot's different enough at the beginning to hook me and make me keep reading.

  19. This is really different and that hooked me. But I wasnt sure if the trees and foliage being moved was the destruction or if there was something else. I also really liked the River Queen and am intrigued by that character. Would definitely read more.

  20. Quite different! I'm not sure if I'm hooked or not. I'm quite curious as to what the creature is, but some aspects of the writing slow my interest down. In some places there's a lot of "telling" and although I'm usually a sucker for description, in a few places here it felt too heavy. The two major cases were the "little stars" and the blue eyes turning to glaciers... to me it edged on corny.

    That said, you definitely stepped outside the box on this one (which is always awesome) and I still want to know what the creature is! :)

  21. This is just a bit of fun, but according to this new game ( you write like Dan Brown.

    Also I think everybody has pretty much give you good advice so I just want to say I like this.

  22. I like it too. You could tighten up in a few places, but you have a nice turn of phrase.

  23. Megs - Scattered BitsJuly 16, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Just as a small note: a beast CAN heave water out. Heave is a synonym for throw up, vomit, or hurl. Now, if that isn't what you meant, I do recommend changing that word.

  24. I do like this, but you took quite a bit of time to say there was a huge ugly beast destroying things and the queen wasn't going to stand for it.

    I love most of your word choices. This is obviously a disgusting thing. And the Queen's eyes are great.

    I'm wondering if this is YA, though. Seems a bit younger to me so far.

  25. While there's a lot of great "oozing" description here, it just goes on too long. As a matter of fact, I think much of the description is overwritten--description for description's sake, rather than for the sake of establishing a scene and moving the story forward.

    I think there could be an intriguing story buried in here somewhere, the over-writing is getting in the way of that. This would be a pass for me, I'm afraid.