Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #4

TITLE: Fey Moon
GENRE: Fantasy

Marian knelt by the narrow stream, watching the puddle jumpers. The blue sparks danced just out of reach as she dipped her hand in. The playful creatures didn't cheer her, nor did the trickling of the stream or the pair of whistler birds singing courtship. The sounds of the forest were eclipsed by weeping. Usually the ethereal crying was contained to one clearing, but now it resonated through all the trees.

She stood and wiped her hands on her knee-length tunic. Why was the sorrow so powerful today? She caressed the smooth bark of one of the oaks, fighting off the urge to add her own tears. "My own burdens seem lighter, knowing even the woods have their own sorrows. I wish you could tell me your story." Maybe she was crazy, talking to trees. Nevermind the weeping.

A branch snapped in the distance. Marian quickly pulled away from the tree and looked to the noise. If someone overheard her, the rumors would start again.

Voices came from the direction of the village.

Slipping quietly through the trees, Marian strained to hear through the underlying noise.

A husky male voice came through clearest. "Quit jumping at rabbits and get back to work."

A few more steps and she should be able to see them, but still be hidden in leafy shadows.

A loud thwack jarred her to a stop. It sounded like someone cutting firewood. But why would she hear that now? In the woods? No one cut down healthy trees.


  1. This jumped from one idea to the next a little too quickly for me to be really hooked. First we're hearing the trees cry, then we're finding out everyone thinks Marian is a nut job, then crazy lumberjacks are cutting down healthy (albeit crying) trees. We don't get a chance to have any of these plot points settle before we're moving on to the next, so I'm not sure what I should care about - or care most about - at this point.

    Also, is "nevermind" a word? I've seen a few people around the blogosphere not put the space in there, but it still rubs me wrong every time I see it...

  2. I'm a little bewildered after reading this. Is Marian actually hearing weeping or just imagining it? And the first thing I wondered after finishing was if this was going to be another iteration of Fern Gully/Avatar.

    Your description is beautiful though. A good balance that makes it just enough and its woven well into the narrative.

  3. There's nothing that really hooks me here. I don't get a great grip on Marian or who she is.

    And the fact that she's so sorrowful (and all the references to weeping, sorrow, and crying) is tough to open with. Without knowing the character, I don't care why she's sad. Plus depressing openings don't grab a ton of readers.

    Near the end of this excerpt as we're introduced to the "husky male voice" I was confused. Is this guy talking to Marian? If so, why doesn't she react? If not, who is he talking to and why say it? The fact that she has no reaction to it makes it seem out of place.

    I probably wouldn't keep reading unless the query had especially enticed me.

  4. Fantasy is hard. You have to create a rich new world while also grounding the reader enough in what's familiar that they can identify with the story. That's a lot to do in 250 words. This is a good start but I think you should cheer Marian up a little and start the story in a more interesting place.

  5. Beautiful description. I was distracted by "puddle jumpers" because I wasn't sure what that was and my mind went off on a tangent pondering the possibilities.

    "Why was the sorrow so powerful today." I loved that line. I also liked "The rumours would start again." what rumours, is she the only one that senses the sadness, I was intrigued enough to keep reading, even though it was a dreary beginning-not in writing but in mood.

  6. i like the world you have created here and the fact that the woods seem to have a life/presence of their own.

    There is some beautiful description, but I would have liked to know a bit more about who Marian was and what she was doing there.

    Good luck.

  7. your descriptions are good, I couldn't get the etheral crying limited to one clearing part. Maybe describe that? Is she imagining that?

  8. I think your writing is good and the plot from what I can see in 250 words looks interesting (a little Fern Gully-ish, which is one of my favorite movies of all time).

    However, I found your descriptions, while interesting by themselves, too much all together. There were too many adjectives and too much, er, purple prose for me. So I got bogged down in the description. Then, honestly, the woman's reaction to her own sorrow's and the forest's was almost melodramatic. (To me.)

    Perhaps cut the first two paragraphs and start with "A branch snapped..."

    Otherwise, YAY TREES.

  9. I really like the idea of weeping trees. That being said, I do think you might work on pulling things together a bit. At first I thought the voice was speaking to her.
    Also-and I know it's hard with only 250 words ;)- but maybe a bit more on why no one would cut live wood. Obviously it's a special wood but most readers would be used to people cuttin down trees.

  10. It was pretty clear to me that only Marian can hear the weeping due to the pulling away/rumors paragraph.

    I think the language here is beautiful. However, the prose does slow the pacing, and you might want to tighten it up a bit.

    The "sorrow so powerful" and "My own burdens seem lighter..." lines struck me as cliched/overly maudlin. If Marian keeps thinking/talking like that, I'm going to dislike her very quickly and stop reading.

    No one cutting down trees for firewood is interesting, because normally that wouldn't be so surprising. It suggests a different sort of relationship with the trees/forest in this book. However, you'll want to make that clearer soon; if you leave this line without additional explanation, you run the risk of confusing readers.

  11. I was interested when I first started reading. From the title and then Marian hearing the trees crying, I figured that she was a fairy. This beginning part is kind of beautiful. I like how you did that. Then you mentioned the rumors ... so I'm thinking that Marian is human, but with something extra.

    Then I got to Marian's dialogue and that's when you lost me. I agree with the poster above, if Marian keeps talking like that she would annoy me pretty quickly and I'd stop reading.

  12. I thought it was a little sad in the begining. Description was good & I loved, loved, loved "puddle jumpers" I want to know what they are, and why the rumors will start. Good Luck ;-) Hooked