Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Secret Agent #8

TITLE: Winging IT
GENRE: MG fantasy

Two scant hours, that’s all she had. Esperanza spread her wings and fluttered to the castle floor, landing with a stumble. Drat, a rock! She whirled her arms, fighting to regain her balance. Somewhere Princess Rosalin slept and she meant to find her. She must find her, and break that useless sleeping curse, or how could she call herself a faery godmother like her mother before her? Her mother, who’d been everything her own clod-footed self wasn’t – graceful and gifted, beautiful and admired.

Esperanza turned down a dim corridor, barely daring to breathe. Sometimes she paused to peer into rooms steeped in shuttered darkness. Nothing stirred. Not the spider in the web or the shadows that slept across the cold, stone floors. Even the wind held its breath. She shivered. Outside the sun beamed soft in the sky, but here inside the castle a damp chill penetrated every bone of her being, from the tips of her silvery wings to the bottoms of her small, slippered feet.

She passed rooms filled with heavy oak chairs, carved wooden trunks, empty benches clustered around rows of equally empty tables. She found everything but the princess. Only a few listless rays of light filtered down through the briars covering the windows. On she pushed.

Soon she reached a spiral staircase twisting away into opaque blackness. Its stones were slick with dampness and chunks of the steps had broken away, leaving vast gaps in them. Something might be lurking up there – something with fangs, leathery wings, a serpentine body.


  1. You have lots of vivid descriptions throughout and really give a sense of the the castle as Esperanza is creeping about.

    For a MG novel the paragraphs feel a bit long. Perhaps consider breaking them up more and maybe ease back a tiny bit on the description?

    I think you may have a typo here: "...the shadows that slept across the cold, stone floors." Should that be swept, rather than slept?

    Overall nice job.

  2. No helpful comments! I know that's not helpful but it's sad to be 6 hours in without a comment... I think it's well written and very descriptive. I can definitely picture it all and there's a tiny bit of background blended in nicely.

  3. Your prose is gorgeous! I love the detail in it and depending on where you are for MG, I think the paragraph length is fine.

    I like the search aspect of Esperanza, however, I'd like something (bigger, emotional, directly physical) to happen to get me attached to the characters. What if Esperanza saw what she was looking for first, but was so surprised at what it was (no way for me to know with 250 words) or at the end of the 250 finding a starling thing. Right now technically nothing has happened and that might be hard for many readers to get connected with.

    I've been told to start within a scene itself and build out. That's what has worked for me and I do think that has made my writing better. I hope this helps.

  4. So much of this is working really well. The description is fanciful like MG fairytale retelling should be and the voice of the MC comes out well. My only issue was with this sentence: She must find her, and break that useless sleeping curse, or how could she call herself a faery godmother like her mother before her? Her mother, who’d been everything her own clod-footed self wasn’t – graceful and gifted, beautiful and admired.

    I would consider revising simply because there is repartition of "Her" I think if you reworked it, it could be as strong as your other sentences.

  5. From the sleeping curse and the briars over the windows, I assume this is a Sleeping Beauty re-telling. That leaves me confused as to why Esperanza feels that it's her responsibility to break the curse. That isn't usually the way the story (or any fairy tale) goes. It's traditionally the prince's job to do that. I could see if she wanted to break with tradition and be the first fairy godmother to rescue the princess, but not why she thinks she needs to do it to keep up with the expectations set by her mother.

    The last paragraph was my favorite. You do a great job of making me feel her fear about going into that dark stair well. You convey a great sense of menace in a few words. Well done.

  6. That whole bit about her mother? Lose it. Once you do, this piece pops nicely. It's a little bit tell-y but it's some clean, fun writing. Good job.


  7. I enjoyed this and thought it worked pretty much as is. Two small suggestions -

    I'd put an em dash between the second last- and last sentence in the first parg, rather than the question mark.

    The 'useless sleeping curse' doesn't work, I think. The word 'useless' implies it's not doing its job, but then the word 'curse' implies it was cast to cause harm, and the two words don't agree. Perhaps change the word useless to something that equates with curse. Or, is it wasn't used to cause harm, perhaps say spell.

    I'd read more.

  8. I rather like this. I rather like the concept.

    But for MG, this is a bit too much for me. I agree that the paragraphs are a little long. I'm also wondering if it's too detailed, or complex in terms of your prose? I'm no expert in MG, that I will admit.