Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#26 January Secret Agent

TITLE: All's Fair
GENRE: YA Fantasy

The princess dug her boot into the snow as she pushed against the force of the man's blade. Their hilts clashed, the tip of his sword dangerously close to her throat. Pain shot through her arm. She grunted as she thrust forward and shoved the metal away. There was a flash, and she ducked. His blade whizzed over her head, and she swept his feet out from under him. A plume of steamy air erupted from his mouth as he landed on his back, and the princess touched the tip of her sword to the flesh just below his ear.

"The match goes to Princess Fawn!" shouted Duke Ellroy, Savara's training master. He clapped her on the shoulder, and Hunter of Sapphire Lake whistled from the circle of trainees behind the practice ring. "Fawn's experience makes her an ideal assistant, but you're all capable of what she just demonstrated. Next pair, let's go!"

Fawn pulled her opponent, Kyle of Beryl Moor, to his feet. The princess insisted on sparring at least once per lesson; it kept her limber, and the trainees loved to watch their future queen fight.

She walked back to the circle of trainees and sheathed her broadsword. It had been made for her by the finest Metal Crafter in Savara, and its length and balance were perfect. She hadn't gone anywhere without the weathered scabbard at her waist for two years--since she returned from the last battle in Darkrest.


  1. OH AWESOME! I love the sword wielding princess, and the place where you started!

    I do want to see more of her emotion here, though. Emotion/action to understand her character. But I like what action we do see

  2. I like this. I want to get a better sense of the princess, but I'd be willing to wait a bit, like the next page or so. She seems like she'll be tough and I love a rough and rugged princess!

  3. Perfectly executed fight scene in the beginning - you really had me intrigued. Nice job!

    There was an odd shift of topic between Fawn pulling Kyle to his feet and her insistence on sparring lessons. I would stick with Fawn, show us more of her character and how she relates with Kyle. That's what I was expecting, anyway.

    The rest is all tell, and I don't know if you need it. Too much of an info-dump, in my opinion, when the opening pages should be for characterization, dialogue, and straight action.

  4. Agreed with everyone else. Great start, but I want more of a sense of the princess's character/voice.

  5. As soon as I realized we had a princess sword-fighting in the SNOW, I was hooked.

    After the fight scene I was kind of thrown off by all the different names and places, but it doesn't keep me from wanting to read more!

    I agree with the others that it would be nice to get more feel for the princess, but perhaps you want her to come across as a bit aloof, since she is different from the people around her. It all depends on what role she plays in the rest of the story.

  6. I'd like this better if it didn't start with "The princess" - I'd prefer not knowing she's a princess until the second paragraph.

    Assistant to what?

  7. A few too many names for me in the first 250 words. I'm still intrigued, though.

    If she's fighting with a live weapon instead of a practice blade, how does she sweep her opponent's feet out from under him without severely damaging him? Does he jump and lose his balance? I know it's nitpicky, but people will notice.

  8. This is well-written and the premise is interesting, but I felt the characterization was lacking. Right now the princess is a stereotype in my eyes because I don't know anything about her except that she is a sword-fighting princess. What about her character? What about her character makes me want to read on?

    I'd probably read a little further to see if I'm able to relate to her at all because the writing is strong.

  9. @Nora: I assumed she swept his feet with her own feet, but I admit that it's not all that clear what exactly happens. Your read is reinforced by the fact that his sword is described as being "dangerously close to her throat" which implies that it's not a practice weapon.

    I agree that I'd like her to have a name in the beginning and for her princessness to come out later. Other than that, I like the beginning paragraph.

    The second paragraph overloads me on names: I first think that Savara is a person's name rather than that of the city/country, and I see Hunter first as an occupation rather than a name. I'd suggest omitting the name qualifiers (of Sapphire Lake, of Beryl Moor) until they are necessary.

    Why is Metal Crafter capitalized?

    I would read on for a bit; the writing is fluid and there's immediate action. The excerpt doesn't promise that the story is going to break out of a cliche fantasy mode, but I'd hope in the next few pages to be shown that it would.

  10. The writing is fine, but I've read this (scenes like this) too many times, and although well done, I don't think it helps you to start the story with it.

    In the end, there is nothing to prod me to read on. What's her problem? What's the dilemma? What makes this princess different from all the other sword fighting princesses? Without an interesting hook, I wouldn't read on.

  11. I was confused about 'Savara' being a person at first, too.

    I thought the fight scene was well-written, though I wondered how she swept her opponent's feet out from under him.

    I agree that I'd like to have more of a sense of the princess' personality in this excerpt.

    I enjoyed this and I'd definitely read on.

  12. While the writing is solid, this does not hook me. The first paragraph seems like a cheap trick - you make the reader think the MC is in danger and then reveal it's just for fun in the second paragraph. Then, the action dissolves into three paragraphs of info dump. Sorry!

  13. I just wanted to say thanks for all the great comments--they're really helpful!

  14. Hey, Secret Agent here! Love that Fawn is the future queen! That really gives it a twist. Good, strong, visual writing. One note: I’d be more engaged in the first few paragraphs if I knew who she was fighting, rather than just “the man.” That’s like, “Oh, look, two people fighting,” and I may not be as invested right off the bat. Otherwise, good job!

  15. I was pulled in by your first paragraph -- although I agree with using her name instead of "princess" to start out with. After the first paragraph, you start to loose me. As many others said, there are too many names and we get pulled away from the MC and what she's thinking, feeling, wanting. You have her pull Kyle of Beryl Moor to his feet, then you switch gears with backstory. Keep in the moment. How does she feel about her defeat of Kyle? Is he important somehow? And the third paragraph doesn't give us much either. I want to know more about her than about her sword right now.

    You give us a small hint at what the story might be about when Duke Elloy announces her win and that her skills make her an ideal assistant. Assistant to what? Assistant trainer? I have to admit, the first time I read this, I thought it said assassin. That was intriguing. You gave us another hint at trouble with "the last battle in Darkrest." But I think you need a stronger hook. What does she want? Who is she besides a princess who can wield a sword?

    I would read on to see what the story is about.