Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #36

TITLE: The Trolls Beneath
GENRE: Middle Grade Adventure

Some people think that trolls no longer exist. They are wrong.

Even if you have never seen a troll, you probably know these unpleasant creatures have granite-grey complexions, with various numbers of eyes and nostrils, two enormous ears, and giant crooked teeth.

Their fearsome appearance might be forgiven, if it weren't for the fact that they really do enjoy terrifying everyone, and crushing them whenever they feel mischievous or out of sorts. Once their victims are pulverized, trolls turn them into bland smoothies and drink them through large straws.

But we must take courage. Remember: even though trolls never die, they can be turned to stone with a simple splash of sunlight upon their scowling faces.

Most grew up in ancient times, before inventions like clocks and wrist watches. Imagine the disadvantage, down in their dark, damp caves and burrows, not knowing the exact time. Every troll was bound, sooner or later, to come bumbling out into the petrifying rays of the sun. So for hundreds and thousands of years, most trolls have simply been lumps of stone, suitable for sitting on, leaning against, or climbing over with perfect safety.

But it would be an awful mistake to think that rocks never change, even those made out of trolls. The rains pound them and diminish them grain-by-grain. Those troll- rocks become harmless, or at least we think so.


  1. I like the opening sentence and the setup of modern day trolls, but we don't get a sense of the narrator. Also, part of what is described could be set in a scene. In fact, showing a troll(s) in modern day situation would be a great setup.

  2. I love the idea of this story. I wanted something more personal to draw me in -- a person, a character to relate to. This intro sounds like something out of a creature encyclopedia, or a talk about Trolls. Interesting facts, but who is the story going to be about? I want to meet him/her right away.

  3. I like the idea of a troll book, but at this point I have no idea if the narrator is a troll or not. As an opening this feels didactic, like a nature show on TV or something. I'd like to see something that shows us the world of the troll, either an insight from a troll living in it, or from the non-troll who finds himself there.

    From this excerpt, I have no clue about the story, so I probably wouldn't read on.

  4. Nice voice. I'm guessing the narrator is the author, not any of the characters to be revealed later, in much the same way that Rowling did it. I enjoyed the setup and lead-in into the story. I would keep reading.

  5. I, too, wasn't sure of the POV...but think trolls are super cool! But this ended up feeling very "telly" to me, not "showy".

  6. I am interested and would continue to read, but I would need some actual characters pretty darn quickly.

    I loved the bit about turning their victims into smoothies and drinking them "through large straws". And the bit about ancient trolls not having clocks was great.

    All in all, I really liked it. But I do agree that without introducing a character to pin the story to, I might find it hard to read much further.

  7. Really like the concept and trolls... am curious to know more how they fit into the character's world and their impact... I'd read on a few more paragraphs to see if these are answered.. Good luck.

  8. I liked the descriptions, but the lack of a character I could relate to and the adult-sounding narrator turned me off. It sounded a bit text-bookish rather than something a child would immediately see themselves in.

  9. I like the concept. But I feel like I'm getting world-building and what I crave is to know who the main character is. I want to know who I'm following on the journey before I decide if I want to go on it.

    If this had showed the trolls in their caves sucking on people smoothes, then I would be hooked big time.

  10. As others have said, this is a lecture, not a story. You have lots of nice tidbits here - drinking people smoothies through a large straw, the stone trolls being eroded by wind and rain, the fact that they can never die, but we need to see all those things in action.

    If you ask yourelf what happened here, the answer is nothing. Forget setting this up for the reader. Just start the story.

  11. Truly don't mean to sound defensive here -- I would like to know if my opening "works" or if I need to start from scratch.

    My first 400 words are titled "A Warning About Trolls." I wrote it intentionally as an author-narrator, and the tension ramps up after the 250 word cut-off. The second chapter begins with the MC and his encounter with a troll where the reader understands that this is a troll, even though the MC does not, and the reader will also understand when the MC is about to be in danger later in the book based on the information imbedded here. I've seen this device used effectively in other stories, and was hoping it would work here. If you think that kids won't have the patience for this set-up, please tell me! Looking for honest feedback.

  12. This is the second time I've written this, the first one was gobbled up at work and disappeared. Maybe your troll?
    Anyway, I love a troll. I believe I might just be one myself, especially first thing in the morning!
    Here's what I think. When you hit..... 'But we must take courage. Remember: even though trolls never die, they can be turned to stone with a simple splash of sunlight upon their scowling faces'....the story should begin! I expected it at that exact point and was disappointed it wasn't the case, but I strongly feel this is where you should begin your story. Let me meet this troll. Let me get to know something about your story. I want to know!
    I have no doubt you'll pull this off. No doubt at all.
    I hope I'll have a chance to read the revamp!!

  13. You write very well. I'm torn on this opening though. I like this beginning and I think having it as a warning about trolls could work. But I'm also afraid that an all-telling beginning could be an auto-reject for a lot of agents. I guess wait and see what the Secret Agent says, but like Escape Artist, I'm confident you can pull off whatever opening you need.

  14. What I liked: Strong, confident writing.

    What needed work: This opening doesn't really pull me in, though I know things will pick up soon.

    Would I read on based on this sample: Yes.