Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #6

TITLE: Edge of the Falls
GENRE: YA dystopian fairytale

I feel eyes on me, and I shiver.

The icy mist from the Falls soaks me and the ground beneath my feet. As I make my way across the cliff face, I wonder who is watching me--one of the children? Or the white shadow that I have seen peering from the darkness in the past few weeks?

I resist looking at the Manor. Even living most of my life within its shadowy halls and fire-lit rooms, seeing the Manor from a distance is eerie and forbidding. Somehow, it seems more dangerous than the Falls yawning darkness.

My foot slips on the damp rock, and I feel the pull of gravity. The Falls loom up before me, its black mouth pulling at me with a roar that drowns out my involuntary cry. In that heartbeat, I remember the first time I was forced over the. My feet skitter on the rocks like my pulse, looking for a hold.

What would it be like, to fall into the unknown depths below me, with nothing to hold me to safety? The thought flashes through me in that brief second before my feet find a slippery grip. I stumble back, edging slowly away until there is a safe distance between myself and the precipice

A sneeze behind me makes me jerk, sending my heart racing and my feet edging further from the falls. I look over my shoulder, and a deeper fear blooms inside me.


  1. Neat genre blend. :D The opening line is also very good - *I* almost shivered. I'd keep reading for that alone.

    A few things that stand out to me that could be changed to improve this piece: One, if she's standing at the base of the waterfall, I'm confused as to why she's afraid of falling off it. Or is she on the top?

    Two, talking about "the children" in the opening paragraph indicates that our narrator is not one of them. That makes me assume that she's an adult, but if she is an adult, then your YA is off.

    Three, how can a shadow be white? Doesn't being white excluded it from being a shadow by its very definition?

    Just some things to consider. Also, a line-edit is needed; there are quite a few typos and grammar hiccups in this one.

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  3. I agree with Addley. I recently had an agent over at WriteOnCon make the same critique about my entry (too late for me to make the changes before this contest, unfortunately). Here's what he/she had to say about mine:

    "What bothered me is the lack of concrete information about anything. You're expecting your reader to be patient, and I certainly am not -- when you're narrating in 1st POV, you need to give the reader more information than you might in 3rd; the author is intervening into the story by keeping secrets on such a consistent basis, on such a large scope."

    I think that seems to fit here too. What I did ultimately was to explain what I felt like explaining right then, and then take out references to things that could wait. This way it's authentic tension, not false tension from an forthcoming narrator. ;-)

  4. Great job creating tone and mood. This has a nice creepy feel to it.

    The fall (or almost fall) seems practically invisible. I'm not seeing it at all. "I feel the pull of gravity' doesn't create a visual image. I'm not seeing her almost slip over the edge. Perhaps rework that to make it more visual.

    ANd if she's walking along the cliff face (the top of the falls) how can they loom up before her? She also remembers the first time she was forced over them, and then wonders what it would be like to fall over them. Shouldn't she know if she's already fallen over them once?

    I liked the white shadow simply because it was different.

  5. The author is good with setting and has some lovely language in play. But there's too much "furniture" moving; and there are too many botox moments (I just made that phrase up, but I like it...botox as in artificially inflated to appear more appealing...), and it's all a bit over the top for me. Hearts racing, feet slipping, falls looming. Also, few cries are ever voluntary; and pulses don't skitter or look for a hold. Nit picky, but it's this sorta thing that shoots me out of my chair for a diversionary cold beverage.

  6. I totally want her to get off the edge! Very nice. I love the descriptions.