Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March Secret Agent #16

GENRE: YA Fantasy

As I waded into the imperial pond, I admitted defeat to Mother...again. She was right: I would never be as sharp as my brother.

Levai could have devised an effortless strategy for evading the palace servants in a heartbeat. My “strategy”, once out-running the maids had failed, involved tossing my shoes into a nearby shrub of nectar flowers and trudging through blue silt and waterlilies.

“Princess Hesperia!”

I picked out the new maid’s squeak among the rest of the voices and felt a squeeze of guilt. Only her third day, and here she was playing cat and mouse in the gardens. When she called my name again, my resolve weakened.

But recalling the sand arena, where I should have been watching the trial by blood with the rest of my family, cemented my feet. To reveal myself meant being dragged back to imperial box and forced to watch dunglings hack each other to pieces.

I retreated into my forest of lilies and waited. The servants gave up on the bridge and moved on to the persimmon grove.

Watersilk worms darted into the water as I parted the lilies with my hands to venture deeper. When the water was to my waist, I stopped to arrange the fan-reeds. No one would think to search in the waterloom portion of the pond, since watersilk stings before it’s been boiled. Already, the glistening threads on the surface clung to my arms, but red welts were a small price to pay for shirking my duties.


  1. I'm not sure what the mc's mother and brother have to do with the rest of the story - you might begin with the mc sneaking off. You have a lot of new words - it might be good to have more clues so the reader is guessing less. I think "dunglings" are from a dungeon? Perhaps you could say how they were dragged, or delivered. Are the lilies tall enough to be a forest? You have a lovely evocative scene, perhaps make it a bit clearer.

  2. There are some really lovely descriptions here; you do a great job of setting the scene. My one suggestion would be to move the line "I should have been watching the trial by blood with the rest of my family" to the top. Reason being, it's super hooky, instantly establishes a conflict for the MC, and lets us know what kind of world she lives in. Right now the line is almost buried, and sort of loses the impact it could have it if starts off the story.

  3. You've done a nice job of bringing us right into the action, which is fun because we immediately have conflict. I do think this needs a copy edit because I spotted some errors as I went through. I also wonder about Hesperia's thought process as she's running. It feels like some information is being forced in there rather than coming out organically. That's probably the hardest thing to do in fantasy because you're trying to tell a story while simultaneously introduce the reader to a world so I understand your dilemma. In this case, I'd push you to think a bit ore deeply about where her mind would really be in this moment. I'd much rather know WHY she ran and if this is a thing she does often, etc. than hear about how much smarter her brother is, for example.

  4. I feel like some of the information at the beginning--like the brother's intelligence--is a good character-building piece of information; however, I'd save it for later. We want to know who this character is and what she's doing here, and introducing new people, even ones who don't make an appearance, confuses things just a bit. I expected Mom and/or Brother were going to show up, but then they don't.

    I really want to hear more about the blood trials in the arena, but then again, I'm like that.