Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #19

GENRE: YA Fantasy

I stand in the middle of the narrow road that I’ve walked every day of my life. The endless fields that stretch for miles beyond the trees on either side, are fields I’ve walked passed a thousand times. But it’s different now. A subtle difference that only the familiar would notice. Perhaps it’s the deafening silence. Perhaps it’s the falling leaves, drifting like phantoms from the overhanging treetops. The light of the full moon forms shadows on the pebble-strewn road, the branches overhead trembling in the gloom as though resisting the urge to pluck me from the path and hide me in the gnarled bark. The click of the pebbles from my light kick, like the patter of tiny feet, running ahead, clearing the path of any obstacle

I take each step reluctantly, with no choice but to follow the road. I try to ignore the prickle of the hairs on my arms and the deep chill that I feel though the air is still. It’s then that I hear it, a distant sound at first, a singing that carries over the calm, a heartbreaking tune that brings tears to my eyes. I wrap my arms around my thin frame, only now feeling the silk of the unfamiliar robe that hangs like a sack around my body. I pull and tug at the sleeves, glimpsing my bare feet as they peek out from beneath the too long cloth.

I want to run, to hide… but the virtuous cries call me.


  1. Great descriptions and imagery. I'm interested in reading more for sure, but thought the last transition was a bit puzzling.

  2. The imagery was beautiful in the first paragraph, but I felt like it went on a tad too long and I had to read the line about the pebbles twice. The phrasing seemed off to me, but I am interested in the singing. And I'm interested in the protaganist even though I know so little about her/him.

  3. Perhaps a tad heavy on the description. Maybe cut some.

    ‘Passed’ should be past. In the first parg, the MC is standing (not moving.) In the second, her footsteps are reluctant, so perhaps change standing in the first parg to walking, or some other synonym for walking.

    You also say she has no choice but to follow the road. Why? Why can’t she wander off into the fields? Why can’t she go back to wherever she came from? It seems like she could if she wanted to, so what is stopping her from doing that? Perhaps give us a hint.

    And then you end with her wanting to run and hide, but there is no sense of that in the rest of the piece. She seems like she’s out for a leisurely stroll. If she’s in danger of any kind, perhaps make that evident. If you cut back on the description, you can replace it with what is actually happening. As is, it was too vague for me. There was no reason to read on.

  4. I agree with sbjames. I got bored with the first paragraph, although the descriptions are well done. Readers want to see the story moving along in the first chapter, so you should save the long descriptions for later.

    The ending of this excerpt is good though.

  5. For my personal taste, I think this is great second page material but perhaps not great for the top of the manuscript. I want to connect to your main character first, then setting. I also think visually that's a huge block of writing to start with on your first page which isn't necessarily visually pleasing when I pick up to skim in the bookstore. There's some good stuff in here, though. I just think maybe we need to connect to your main character first.

  6. I think stopping the first para after "But it's different now." would make this much stronger. Then when it's followed by the next paragraph, with her stepping reluctantly, we immediately know it's a bad kind of different.

    The reiteration of the "perhaps" doesn't work for me because this is someone who has walked the road every day of her life. She would immediately know what is different about it, and wouldn't have to ponder it.

    I like the atmospheric feel of it, though. Thanks for sharing!

  7. The text is so esoteric and vague that I'm not sure if the road is literal or metaphoric. It doesn't say anything related to characters or plot. Writers can often get away with more flowery openings with adult fiction than young adult, but even genre fiction (like fantasy) requires more action.

  8. The imagery is lovely, but I wish I could turn the page to see what the set-up is for.

  9. Too much description to hold my interest. I prefer more focus on character and action, with the description weaved in a way that I don't really notice it. Especially at the beginning of a story.

    I'd also suggest breaking this up into smaller paragraphs.

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