Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#28 January Secret Agent


As she grew older, it became obvious to Princess Evelyn Kingston that she wasn't going to be the perfect princess her parents hoped for.

1. She couldn't sew a decent stitch.

2. Her handwriting's been compared to chicken scratches.

3. Animals hated her. A lot. (They used to like her once upon a time, but after having to clean her room for thirteen years, they went on strike.)

4. She wasn't pretty.

Okay, maybe the last one wasn't entirely true. Evie was sort of pretty with her blond hair and bright blue eyes. But in the land of fairy tales, sort of pretty was equivalent to ordinary. Like her mother said, she was no Cinderella.

Besides, blue eyed blond princesses were a dime a dozen around here. Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty took care of that.

Thankfully, Evie didn't care.

She didn't care that she wasn't the fairest of the land. Not even of her land which consisted of ten acres and twenty families. She'd rather be out slaying dragons and rescuing villagers than sit around waiting for a prince to come marry her.

"Princess Evelyn! Princess Evelyn!" Mrs. Chester, the housekeeper, burst into the alcove where Evie was sewing with her cousin, Alanna. "It finally came!"

"What came?" Evie asked, yanking on the tangled threads.

"Your storybook! The queen had it specially designed and delivered by CPS," she said brightly, shoving a large leather tome forward.

"CP--Oh, right. Crane Parcel Service."


  1. the first thing that jarred me out of the story was this:

    2. Her handwriting's been compared to chicken scratches.

    because it's in present tense. All of your tenses must agree. I also don't feel that I got a feel for Evie's voice here. I think if you cut the "not a perfect princess" stuff and start with action it would help considerably.

  2. I liked this. Even though princess stories have been done-alot, I like that your story seems to be set right along the same time with Cinderella and Repunzel, etc. I can't wait to see the dynamic among all the princesses (if there is one)!

    I liked the dry humor too.

    I'm hooked!

  3. I like this, at least I want to see where it goes. I agree with Chelsey that all the tense has to match unless you make it clear that it's the characters thought. Still, I think this is cute and I want to see how UNlike a princess this princess is! :-)

  4. I already like Evie. She seems cute and quirky. This story kind of reminds me of Shrek with the fairy-tale humor etc. I'm interested to see where you're going with this. I'd read more!

  5. A princess that would rather slay dragons than wait for a prince sounds promising!:)

    And unless it's stated later on in the story, it would be great to have Princess Evie's physical traits described more. So if all the princesses are blond haired and blue eyed, what makes her stand out? Or not stand out as it seems?

    I'm intrigued as to where this story goes. Good job!

  6. Crane Parcel Service. LOL! I love that. I think this is a great beginning and I want to know more about Evie. I do think saying 'She'd rather be out slaying dragons and rescuing villagers than sit around waiting for a prince to come marry her.' is a bit heavy-handed though and I want to be able to SEE that about Evie, rather than being told it.

  7. I'd give this the benefit of the doubt, but I've read a lot of princess stories like this. I'd like to see right away what makes this rebellious imperfect princess story different.

    On a nitpicky factual level, I hope those twenty families aren't expected to sustain the castle with the fruits of their labor - ten acres is not very much land for agriculture. Unless there's magical help.

  8. I agree with Nora that the idea of a rebellious princess isn't new, and in reading it I'd be waiting to see what'll make this story different.

    (I'll disagree with her about the families, only becase there's no mention of a castle, and the fact that there is a housekeeper implies that Evie's land is so small that the royal family lives in a house.)

    I really like the intro and the narrative voice overall. The style here overcomes, somewhat, the fact that the idea isn't exactly new.

    I like the humor, too. I have to quibble with the CPS, only because Evie would know what CPS stands for. The only reason she is spelling it out is for the reader.

    I'd keep reading. I'm intrigued by the literalness of the storybook and wonder how it will play into Evie's world.

  9. I like this, especially the twist that the land is overpopulated with princesses. Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but I was turned off by 'sort of pretty with her blond hair and bright blue eyes'. To me it implied that she wouldn't have been pretty if she didn't have that skin and hair color. I would read on,though, because it sounds fun.

  10. "Her handwriting's been compared to chicken scratches" jerked me out of the narrative, too. Like Chelsey pointed out, it should be, "Her handwriting had been compared to chicken scratches." (Although that's kind of cliche. You could say something like, "Her handwriting had been compared to dragon scratches," or some other creature unique to your world.)

    On the whole, though, I liked the voice, and because of that, I'd keep reading for a bit. It is a little tell-heavy in the beginning - again, as Chelsey already suggested, you could try starting right off with a scene and see where that takes you. The anti-princess idea has been done before, so you want to show us what makes your story unique as soon as possible.

    Good luck!

  11. Hey, Secret Agent here! I like the image of the animals revolting after clean-up duty. Ha! Overall, though, there’s A LOT of telling. I’d prefer you started in scene instead of a list (the easy way out). I challenge you.

  12. I like the humor and the not-the-fairest-in-the-land princess idea. The animals going on strike is funny, but the chicken scratch handwriting is cliché. I love fantasy and spunky princesses. But you need to show us quickly what is unique about your character and your story. I think the subject matter or a spunky princess has been done a lot and this means you have to be even that much better. As others have said, you have a lot of telling. I want to be in the moment with this character. You have a lot of set up without much showing us where the story will go.

    I would keep reading to see where this is going -- at least the first chapter. I know it's hard to show so much in 250 words, but sometimes that's all you'll get. Good luck with this!

  13. I don't think there's any reason this scene needs to open with a list. I mean, why can't you just condense it to a paragraph? I think that'd be less intrusive.

    Also, I'd agree, it's pretty obvious that the only reason you spell out CPS is to inform the reader. I'm not sure how else you'd do it, but the way its done seems a bit blatant.

    Well, I'm always up for a fantasy adventure, and while it's true that unorthodox princess stories are easy to come by right now, I always like a fun premise. I'd read on to see where the plot's going.

  14. I like the voice, but agree you need to start in scene. Also, I'm a bit confused by the "My" in the title when this is in third person...