Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #5

GENRE: YA Fairy Tale Fantasy

Dawn should have dyed the sky a half-hour ago. Should have transfigured the hills of Ailldn and flushed coral the remnant of night. Should have dissolved the haunting, the thing she ran to forget, well before she came within sight of the orchard. By now, by the near turn of spring, she should sprint through haze so golden it would ignite that craving to be released. Rise. Soar. For Da had always said that she moved over the Uplands as a flame of wind. But this morn, in the eerie blue dark, there was only the shackle of

She wondered if she had come out too early. Or if the dream that pinned her hot to the sheets had itself left her mad. But when she cleared the irrigation ditch, her doubts flew to the sky. For shooting up from the oiltrees on wings as black as shadows were the only birds said to shun darkness. Corbies. Again.

Between the rows, the feathered invaders ravished virgin growth. Stripped prized ols. Tossed fruit half-consumed to the gravel. But worse, some carried off whole branches in their lust for more. They couldn't know that Uncle had arrived last night. That she hadn't falsified the accounts in weeks. That their previous attacks had so jeopardized the oil supply that it would be hard enough to conceal the loss from him without this.

But they should know their own preference for flesh. They should know that corbies only eat death.


  1. well, i'm hooked. Once you hit the corbies i wanted to know everything that was going on.
    However in some places i think your prose gets in the way of the story. Especially in the beginning where you spend the first 2.5 sentences talking, more or less, about how the sun looks when it rises. I think if you cut down on some of the description, your opening would carry more of a punch.
    Good job!

  2. I agree with Sarah. This is a good opening, but the prose makes it harder to get through. Cut it down and let your story shine through. Great job!

  3. You definitely have a way with words but the story gets a little lost in it. Pull back on the descriptions a little.

    Also, is there a reason that she isn't named?

    I would read on.

  4. I liked a lot of your descriptions, particularly this line -

    For shooting up from the oiltrees on wings as black as shadows were the only birds said to shun darkness.

    But I also agree with the others. As nice as all the description is, it overwhelms the rest of it. There's just too much. If you cut down on it a bit, there'd be room to say why she's out before dawn and what her dream was about, and why dawn hasn't come when it should have. (the things I was interested in knowing.)

    She's also not doing anything except filling in the reader. What did she go out for? Perhaps have her do whatever it is she went out to do?

    And one nit - if the corbies shun darkness, why are they out before the sunrise?

    I'm intrigued enough to read on.

  5. This is very poetic, but I became slightly confused by where the story is going. I would probably keep reading to find out.

  6. The writing is very lyrical...which I think is bit of a hindrance to the reader, I kept stumbling through the prose. I think you should take it sentence by sentence and decide what you really need to say. You do have a nice way with words, but I would like more focus to be on the MC and what's going on with her.

  7. Not hooked yet but I think I could be.

    The first paragraph was beautifully written but basically only told us one thing - it should be dawn. I was intrigued by the mention of uncle and would probably read on to find out more.

    One thing I don't understand, if the Corbies eat flesh, why are they stripping the oiltrees? Sorry if that's a stupid question.

  8. I'm with Sarah, I don't get what's going on here. Pretty description, but I don't know if it is day or night, I don't know if she's human or animal, all of that because the line between metaphor and literal description is totally blurred. I don't know what a corbie is, so that isn't helping me. I feel like there is a really cool story here, but I just can't quite access it. If I can't, will a YA audience be able to? And that's not a rhetorical question. Maybe I'm not enough familiar with the genre to get this. And I can wait to know for sure what corbies are and stuff, but I do need a bit more story here for me to really be hooked.

  9. I agree with Barbara. There's some lovely poetic writing here, but too much of it and too much description. The beautiful phrases would stand out more if there were some plainer sentences in between, and then we could get to find out more information too.

    At the moment, even though a lot of it's very pretty, I wouldn't read on.

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  11. I agree with the others; your writing style is very lyrical. However, I feel there are too many shoulda, coulda, woulda and ifs and ors here – if that makes sense. It kind of bogs down the opening, for me, and I want the story to start! For example, what's a corbie? Admittedly, when I first read the word I saw "corgi," those funny little dogs sans tails...and then I read it again.

  12. I think this would be a very nice descriptive page... somewhere else in the book. Perhaps after we already know the MC and her abilities/world/etc. As is, I think you are starting in the wrong spot, because this was a little too confusing for an opening page.

  13. I like the eerie tone of this, but I'm afraid that I got a bit lost in the writing. There are some beautiful descriptions here, particularly about the corbies, but I think the story sacrifices clarity by focusing so heavily on imagery and style. Ultimately, I felt bogged down by the language. I think if this were clearer, I'd be very interested.

  14. Thanks EVERYONE for your feedback! You rock!

    I've never partcipated in this contest before, so I don't know if this is allowed, but for anyone else who stops by, I'm going to post a revised opening. Feel free to comment or skip as you like.

    Hope that's okay, Authoress...

  15. Dawn should have dyed the sky a half-hour ago. She knew because she had just crested the last rise of moor leading down to the orchard, and she should be sprinting through haze so golden she would yearn to rise into its coral reaches like a flame of wind. But this morn, the hills were a lingering blue dark, and she felt only the shackle of earth.

    Had she come out for her run too early? Or had the haunting, the dream she ran to forget, itself turned her fey?

    The instant she cleared the irrigation ditch, however, her doubts flew to the sky. For shooting up from the orchard on wings as black as shadows were the only birds said to shun darkness.

    Corbies. Again.

    Between the rows of clipped oiltrees, the invaders stripped prized olús. Ravished fruit half-consumed to the gravel. But worse, some carried off whole branches in their lust for more.

    She sprang into the feathered mass and scooped up gravel. “Fie, you! Scat!” But it only whipped the birds into an ebony fervor of talons and calls designed to mock her.

    She told herself they couldn’t know Uncle had arrived last night – no advance warning and more than a fort-night too soon. She’d planned to go straight to the storehouse and falsify the accounts, but their previous attacks had so jeopardized the spring oil supply this would be almost impossible to conceal.

    They couldn’t know they plundered her future. But they should know corbies only eat death.

  16. This version is better, but I still think the most interesting information - the Uncle for whom she has to falsify the accounts - is buried in the text. I think you spend too long at the start on the dawn, and I'm still confused. Are there so many corbies that they're blocking the light of dawn? Or is there some other reason the light is late? Once you get to the corbies things pick up. I'd consider tightening the info at the beginning and getting to the corbies and the uncle sooner.