Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #7

TITLE: The Untamed Court
GENRE: Fantasy

Sarah couldn't believe what was happening. Mother was dead. And they were accusing her of doing it. "I know you couldn't do this," her cousin said. "I know it. But the evidence we have... " He stopped, words hanging.

Sarah hugged her body with her arms, staring out her window across the rocky point of land to the seashore and the rising morning. "You need to leave the castle before I'm forced to arrest you as a murderer. Please." "You should protect me," Sarah said in a snarl, fighting tears. "I am," he said. "I can't give you another warning. This is your only chance. Please go before the other guards come. I'll tell them you'd escaped." Sarah shoved past him and left her chambers.

We have your wife. Anger shook through me and I crumpled the note in my hand. It started to curl and smoke and I dropped it with a shout as it burst into quick flames. Chars fell to the kitchen floor of my small Boston apartment. The hard smell of blood filled the room and I took a step back as a sharp wind quickly rose, raging through the room, papers flying everywhere. I raised my arms in a futile gesture against the shrieking wind. Heartbeats later the storm vanished. I brought my arms down, wincing from a cut across the back of my hand. Someone coughed. I looked up and saw a man three feet tall standing on my kitchen counter, staring down at me.


  1. I'm very confused, and yet I'm interested. I know you probably didn't do this because of the 250 limit, but there should be an extra space and a line or something seperating the second and third paragraphs. :)
    I really liked the contrast between the castle and the Boston apartment, but there's a little too much going on here. Maybe slow it down a little, use a couple more paragraphs? But I liked it, and I'd have read more!

  2. I'm also very confused for the reason that I didn't expect the POV and setting to change so early on. I agree with Bethany Elizabeth that you should try to slow it down a bit and expand upon the scene in the castle. Maybe you could have the guards spot her on her way out and have some sort of chase scene through the halls or on the castle's grounds.

    Then, of course, make some sort of break between the POV change.

    Confusion aside, I did like the questions raised at the beginning. It makes me wonder how her mother died and what exactly could Sarah have done to make others think she killed her. I'd read on. :)

  3. Definitely a pattern here: I'm loving all the elements here too. You're gifted in telling a story that raises questions naturally.

    To help with the confusion, more paragraphs are needed. Also, I believe the writing would really pop if it were a bit tighter. Take this sentence, for instance: "Sarah hugged her body with her arms."

    Instead say, "Sarah hugged her body."

    You have a nice start here, and I'd like to read more.

  4. I agree with previous comments: I'm very confused by the POV, and while the story seems intriguing, the writing needs to be a bit more reigned in.

    Also, I'm not sure it's the wisest decision, as far as story-flow is concerned, to switch scenes in the first 250 words. I was starting to get the feel of the scene and then it jumps away to something new.

  5. Totally confused.

    Not hooked. So much needs to be sorted out before it can draw the reader into the story. Too much is going on. Narrow the focus a little and see if it helps.

  6. I liked the opening premise, Sarah being blamed for her mother's death. It makes me wonder how her mother died, why Sarah is suspected, how will she prove her innocence and what will happen in the meantime. But I don't get a sense of who Sarah is. We're not in the scene long enough to get to know her.

    Same for the second scene with the guy in Boston. It could be interesting, but I don't get to know him. The scenes change too abruptly. Plant us firmly in one scene so we can form connections to your characters before you jump to another.

    You might also consider technical aspects. You need a new paragraph each time a new person speaks. That second paragraph should actually be five paragraphs. The break between scenes should be bigger. Small, picky stuff, but it makes a difference in how you and your work are perceived. A well done presentation could prod a reader into hanging on a bit longer. A bad presentation could be just what the reader needs to let it go.

  7. This was really disorienting for me. We are in a castle where a girl is accused of murder, then we are in an apartment in Boston where a man’s wife has been taken, and then there is a midget on the kitchen counter. Any one of these three openings would have probably done the trick, but mashed all together you’ve got an alienating mess.

  8. The switch in scenes was too jolting for me. Needed some transition there.
    But still interested inthe story. I'd read another page or two to see if it smoothed out..

  9. What the? I've re-read this a few times and I'm still totally lost. I would not keep reading, if it's this confusing in the first page!

    You need to be rock solid with each and every scene, if you're going to jump places/times/POV. Give us enough info to be able place a mental bookmark before we make the next jump.

  10. The pieces of this story seem a all over the place. The jump in narrative view point confused me, as did the possible point in time. I wanted to know more about Sarah and her cousin--was he the king? why were they in the castle? was her mother someone of rank?--and I wanted Sarah to deny it out loud, not simply demand that her cousin protect her. She seems to jump very rapidly from the shock that her mother is dead *and* she's being blamed for murder to wanting protection.

    Both stories (because it seems like there are two different ones) hooked me, but together I found them confusing.

  11. too disjointed. stick to one pov, or break up the two in alternating chapters.

    Sarah hugged her body with her arms-- i would ditch the with her arms, that is implied by the word hug.

    word verification:

    i become such a worias when my SA entry is up for critique.