Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #44


The distance between me and the ground was about five feet. I guess. Okay, I’d fallen further than that in the past and survived. Admittedly, on previous tumbles I hadn’t had four stomping hooves to avoid.

‘You nervous?’ I heard Ben call.

I turned to look at him as he sauntered across the yard, his ruffled golden hair flopping into his face over his sky blue eyes. A girl looked over a rustic stable door, admiring his muscles as they bulged through his tight fitted grey top. It was hard to believe he was related to me.

‘No,’ I replied, trying to sound defiant. Why people around here considered this was fun was beyond me? Horses have their own minds, or did people not realise that?

‘I’ll look after you,’ he said, smiling. He squeezed my hand.

‘It’s supposed to be me looking after you. I’m the older one, remember?’

‘Age is just a number,’ he replied.

Despite his reassurances the churning knots in my stomach were getting tighter. Thank God I hadn’t had any breakfast this morning, otherwise it would definitely be making a second appearance.

‘It could be worse,’ he said. ‘It could’ve been raining.’

I looked up at the sky. It was cloudy as per usual. Typical British weather. Something I still wasn’t used to.

‘Hurry up, Ben,’ Dad called. He was waiting with the rest of the group. ‘You’re holding us all up.’

‘Smile,’ Ben instructed as he jogged back across the muddy concrete and effortlessly leapt onto his horse.


  1. He's related to her?!? I don't know, it sounds like she's checking him out. Maybe describe a bit of her afterwards, just to show that she means she looks way different than him and not that she's attracted to him. Actually, the whole conversation sounds a bit like they're flirting. We're missing the brother/sister dynamic (assuming they're bro and sis).

  2. I agree with Empress Awesome. I liked this segment, and would probably have read a few more paragraphs, but the whole brother-sister dynamic doesn't seem realistic.
    Perhaps you could cut out the part about a girl watching his muscles bulge from the stable door? That seems to set the tone to romantic and we haven't even met the main character's love interest yet.

    Otherwise, the dialogue seemed natural and the scene unfolded easily. I wouldn't mind seeing more. :)

  3. I disagree! Their relationship is like mine with my brother! I loved the banter they have and they are obviously very close. You have a great teen voice and would love to read more!

  4. I thought Ben was going to be the love interest until you said they were related. I also read it as flirting.

    I would have liked to have known she was sitting on a horse from the start. I wondered where she was. Up a tree? On a ladder? The horse would have set the scene immediately.

    THere is also no tension or suspense on the page, no hint of trouble or a problem. There's no compelling reason to read on. Perhaps add one.

  5. I like the writing and the banter (sibling/love interest) but feel maybe this wasn't quite the right starting point. I'd read on just because I found it pleasant but there isn't anything here forcing/encouraging me to turn the page.

  6. My first thought when I realized they were brother and sister was ..'ewwww....". You probably don't want to open with something that feels rather ickily like incest (even if it wasn't intentional).

  7. I think the first description of Ben (his ruffled golden blue eyes) is what makes some readers inclined to think "love interest." One way to keep the description but avoid that dynamic might be to have your narrator add something slightly wry or snarky in her mind that would fit with the banter that appears later.

    Your character has a great voice when she thinks about herself, self-aware and interesting, so I think would could build this into her view of him as well.

    The other thing I'd like is a greater sense of the stakes: why's she riding at all, when she's clearly not fond of it or interested in it for its own sake? Good luck with it!

  8. I think you've introduced some sympathetic characters here (although like others I thought Ben was the romantic interest at first).

    But I don't think the rhythm is quite working here. I was disoriented at the beginning -- why couldn't she start by talking about the horse, rather than making us guess? -- and the excerpt was so dialogue-heavy that I found it a little hard to get into. I find that overusing dialogue between characters I don't really know doesn't make for a strong opening, because dialogue doesn't really let me get inside the characters' heads.

    I think some revisions would make this a strong opening!

  9. Whoa, horsey! Yes, I thought she was hot-to-trot for Ben, too.
    Sorry about the puns.
    I'm looking for more specifics as to what she fears from riding a horse. Is she trying to sound defiant, or confident when she answers no? The former sets up more conflict with her brother, while the latter makes it seem that she wants to prove she's tough.
    Otherwise, I don't have much to add beyond what others have already said.
    Good luck!