Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #37

TITLE: Demigod
GENRE: Adventure Fantasy Fiction

The bees trembled with nervous energy as Cora placed a hand upon one of the sections of hollow log that hung from the eaves of her cottage. She hummed a soothing tune of beseeching, and the daughters of the hive responded with a welcoming buzz of wings. She touched her enchanted blade against the edge of the clay dish that covered one end of the wooden cylinder. As she did so, a wisp of green flowed through the center of the knife, a blessing from Elassa the Benevolent. With a small amount of pressure, Cora cracked the wax seal that held the dish in place. Humming in time with the vibration of a thousand pairs of tiny wings, she reached into the hive and gently worked a comb loose.

Tall and willowy, Cora maintained a level of energy uncommon in other women her age in the village. At twenty-five years, most women already had several young children to look after. With no family of her own, Cora served as Candlemaid of the Temple of Elassa, which allowed time for her duties as midwife and the pursuit of herbalism.

The children of Elassa’s Bend gathered around, raising scraps of bread from the loaf Cora had baked that morning, clambering to catch the first drips of honey. She held out the comb and smiled down at the eager faces. “One at a time, my dears. There is more than enough for everyone. Please move aside when you’ve gotten enough honey.”


  1. You have an intriguing set up here. I'd be interested in hearing more about the green light, and this incredible talent she seems to have with bees. I like how she calls them "daughters of the hive." It seems beautiful and poetic, and sounds like an interesting set up for a character.

    However, I don't think this is a very exciting first chapter hook. Perhaps this scene could be redone to make it more "hook-ish"... maybe the bees are attacking someone and she calls them off, something crazy like that (that was random and off the top of my head, but you get the picture!) Or perhaps there is a different scene you could start with that would draw readers in more?

    I especially felt like the second paragraph should be used somewhere else. It kind of interrupted the flow you already had going on with the bees and was a bit jarring.

    Like I said, I'm intrigued with your concepts, though! Good luck!

  2. I love this so far! I think several of your sentences are pretty long and can be broken into two (and maybe three.) Especially the first one in the first paragraph (can: one of the sections of" be removed?) and the first one in the third paragraph. I agree that the second paragraph should be moved. It gives a lot of good information about the character, but it interrupts the story. Cora has the honey and shoujld give it to the children and then a description can follow.
    I wonder if you can remove the word enchanted from "enchanted blade." When I read that the green (smoke?) comes from it, my reaction would be: Whoa! Is that blade enchanted? Which is far more exciting than being told it is so. Especially because this is the first we are told about anything different in the world you have created.
    Great work so far! Seems like a great story!

  3. There is a whole lot of description and telling happening here. You don't have to condense Cora's life into the first page. Even though you tell me all about her, I don't get any real sense of Cora.

    I also found the dialogue very proper/forced for someone talking to children.

    The jump from collecting honey to eating the bread she made earlier was jarring as I didn't get any sense of the time frame and where the children had come from. Perhaps you could "set the scene" before she collects the honey and give me a better idea of why the honey is so important that it warrants opening the story with.

  4. This opening gives me little idea what the story is about. A childless herbalist, midwife, Candlemaid gives honey to children. Nice and pleasant. And dull. Except for the opening line, there is no tension here. What is she worried about? What dilemma or conflict does she face? This would be much better if you gave us a hint of her worries, hopefully introducing a faint element of fantasy or adventure.

    The second paragraph is pure telling. Consider re-constructing it to include a few of the elements we need to know right now, but use them to introduce a worry of hers. Add tension.

  5. The "daughters of the hive" caught my attention. Intriguing. I think you could combine the first two sentences into one dynamic first line with the focus on Cora first rather than the bees. I would also suggest cutting down on extra phrases, usually found near an "of" or "as." Replace some of that action with a stronger verb. For example:

    "Cora's hand hovered atop the hollow log, and she hummed a soothing tune of beseeching. The daughters of the hive responded with a welcoming buzz of wings."

    Something that shows the visual you created with fewer filler words. I love the descriptions, and this reads fantasy very clearly.

    The line that starts tall and willowy, I don't think you need. It reads like a thesis statement for what follows, when what follows can stand on its on and tell us she is probably uncommon from others. I like the angle of midwifery and herbalism.

    Good luck with this!

  6. I love your gorgeous descriptions. It screams “fantasy” from the first sentence, and I love to be grounded that quickly! Your style is beautiful. It reminds me of the older, more flowery fantasy books I grew up on.

    The second paragraph is a little jarring. It takes me out of the moment, and doesn’t really feel like it belongs there. Because of the second paragraph I think the children appearing in the third comes across as jarring too. It makes it hard to cement an image in my head. (Note: without P2, P1 and P3 work for me.)

    I like the “Elassa” element, and the "bee beseeching"! There are a lot of things that interest me!

  7. The setting is described well, and I can picture Cora and her cottage. We are a bit uncertain about the genre though—we’re thinking this is adult fantasy since she’s 25? We like that we learn about her and her role in her village, but it makes us wonder how Cora feels about this. There were no real stakes (emotional or physical) in the opening so the impression wasn't as strong as it could/should have been.

  8. It's a nice start but it's not a beginning. I'm guessing there's nothing on this page that leads to the inciting incident. It seems you're giving the reader an introduction to your MC and her world, rather an intro to the plot.
    TRy to give us a hint of some trouble, or some problem, on the first page.

    You could cut the entire 2nd parg. You've stopped the story to tell us who Cora is. Try to get that info in through dialogue and action. Let us 'see' who she is by her actions, rather than telling us.