Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #5

Title: A Crown of Roses
Genre: YA Fantasy

Scattered beams of moonlight penetrated through the tree canopy barely illuminating the daunting forest. I squinted, trying to weave a pattern through the shadows and trees. My bloody breath constantly puffed into the chilly summer night air as I ran. Progress was slow, but my mind contained one thought: I must get away from Henbane Tower.

A twig snapped behind me and my head shot over my right shoulder. My eyes scanned in every direction, but nothing greeted me except for darkness. As I turned forward again, a tree had sprung up right in front of me. It was too late to miss it. My unblemished cheek collided with the bark, scraping my skin as stars wiped my vision. Grimacing, I put my palm to my face and continued on. The stinging soon subsided. It wasn’t as deep as the cut on my left cheek.

Low hemlock and elm branches barred my way. Thorns and sticks continually pierced my bare feet. Snarling vines snagged my toes, making me pause to frantically free myself.

I had stopped noticing the shooting pains hours prior, stopped thinking about how my perfect skin was marred like a commoner. My mother had always insisted I take goat’s milk baths to keep my royal skin radiant, but she was dead and I was running for my life.

Skirts raised in my filthy, sweating hands, I sprinted through the first clearing I came across.


  1. Love this! Great descriptions and sounds intriguing.

    VS Chapman

  2. I love the setting, the description and I would definitely read it!

  3. You have created a vivid setting drawing the reader in. I would read it .

  4. So I already said how much I love this compared to your earlier drafts! My only thought (and I'm just playing devil's advocate) is that if she's been running for a while, her eyes would have adjusted a bit more to the dark and if it's that dark she can't see anything, how would she know hemlock and elms are the trees she's running past. Can't wait til you send me more! 😀

  5. I thought you did a great job with the descriptions, establishing the stakes right away and throwing in the twist she's a royal. If you wanted to push the stakes a little further, you could really push home the fear. You describe the trees she's running into, you could add in a little emotion too. Good job!

  6. Perhaps set up in the first parg that this is a female. We don't know who 'I' is until the very end of the 250 words.

    You might also take a look at what your words are actually saying. If the moon barely illuminated the woods, then it didn't illuminate the woods. Can breath be bloody? She has only one thought in mind: Henbane Tower, and yet, she tells us about everything - except Henbane Tower.

    In parg two, you have body parts acting independently. She has to scan and turn her head. Neither her head nor her eyes can do anything on their own. Perhaps rework this, sentence by sentence, so your words are saying what you mean.

    And give us more about the tower. That's the hook. That, and why she's running.

    1. Thank you Barbara! That's very helpful!

  7. Great job with the atmosphere and, my personal favorite, dropping us right into the middle of the action. It’s always a great way to not only hook but to propel your reader forward. I agree with some of the word choice comments (the bloody breath especially!). There are a few repetitions throughout (skin twice in one paragraph) and I want to feel even more of her fear in this section as she’s running for her life. I want to know more about why she’s running from Henbane Tower (especially since that’s the only thought in her mind). This is a great start though, well done!

  8. great beginning - I can visualize where she is and sense her fear and anguish. Barbara above mentioned a couple of places that cause me to pause - to question it, but I want to read on for sure.

  9. This is really visual and pulls you in. I have a student I am working with who would love this. Let us know when it's out!