Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #39

TITLE: The Seed
GENRE: YA Fantasy

"I see it! I just have to go a little higher! Hold on!" Raina shifted her grip a few inches to the left and tapped one of the ropey branches with her toe to test its strength. The dead wood was becoming flaky and brittle, but weaker boughs had held her weight before. With a firm grip on the tree's trunk, she chanced the shift. The crumbling tree swayed and shed a rainfall of dead leaves, but the branch held.

"Don't go any higher! I don't think you should go any higher!" Ibli's worried voice called from below. Raina ignored her little sister and hauled herself a few feet closer to her prize.

"I'm fine, Ibli. Relax! It's right there. I just need to have a look." She shook a mist of wood shards out of her curly brown hair and glanced up. Dozens of branches had all grown together into a knot, roping over, then under, then over again to form what looked like a nest big enough for a person. Raina had seen the living trees deeper in the woods grow together like this, but never so many in such a thick pattern. The weave was just so regular and intricate. It looked crafted.

"Are you sure you won't fall? This is a very dead tree." Ibli sounded skeptical, and Raina couldn't really blame her. She was stronger and more agile than her ten-year-old sister, but this tree was coming apart in her hands.


  1. I'm curious to know what the prize in question is. I think we should have a clearer impression of that within the first few paragraphs. It probably doesn't need to be a full-tell, but some hint would be nice.

    Be careful about overusing exclamation points. I think the rule of thumb is no more than 1 per 10k words or so, otherwise they really start to loose their impact.

    Interesting start!

  2. I enjoy the voice here, but I have no idea what Raina's risking her neck for. Maybe give the reader a clue as to what she's so eager to reach.

  3. I love the voice here. Sounds quite mischievous. I also want to read more, because I want to know what she's trying to reach and if she'll be safe.

    Thumbs up!

  4. Love the description of the tree growing in a pattern, like a crafted platform! To me that was the hook. Perhaps this needs to come earlier, so we know why she's risking the tree?

    Some of the language and dialogue tags feel a little overwritten and stilted to me. As does some of the narrative. Does the dialogue need to be so long? Maybe one effective "Be careful, the tree's falling apart!" would work better?

  5. I like starting in the tree. It gives an immediate sense of danger and gives the MC bravery. I agree with others. Give a hint of the importance of what she is trying for.

    I would maybe replace or remove the sentence "the wood was becoming flaky and brittle." You tell us in other ways that the tree is coming apart. I do like the crafted tree idea. Makes us think that this is no ordinary tree. Good

  6. I like the concept of a mysterious human-sized nest! I don't think that I'd start with dialogue unless the dialogue itself is memorable. But I would keep reading just to find out if there was something in the nest! Good luck.

  7. The nest and the fact that the trees seem crafted are the things that interested me. I did wonder if the nest was the prize, or if there was something in it. Maybe make the prize clear.

    You might also work in a bit more setting. Are they in a forest, or is this dying tree somewhere outside the forest, and if so, where. Plains, desert, someone's back yard. Give us a clue.

  8. Sorry to be so late to comment. I like that you start with a dangerous situation, as though you are throwing us in the action. Without an idea of what is at stake though, it isn't very effective. I'd also like to have a better idea of where the story is going. What about starting with your third paragraph? About how it looked crafted?