Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Secret Agent Contest #12

GENRE: YA Fantasy

My first memory is of running.

It was hot daylight, and the air was choked with dust. My tiny legs burned with exertion as my feet pounded against an earthen track. I was terrified, although of what, I don’t know.

Sometimes I think that moment shaped every moment to come. My life began in a burst of speed and fear. I was never safe—but at least I was fast.

I’m flying down another dirt road today, but this time I feel certain of myself. That confidence comes partly from the horse beneath me. I named her Starlight in a fit of whimsy, although she’s a plain bay dun with lopsided ears. She’s strong and lean and loves to run, and on her back, I’m no longer a creature bound to earth, but something with wings.

I let out a whoop and give the mare her head, standing in the short stirrups while we gallop down the path. I nudge her off the track, into the grass, and pull an arrow from my quiver. The grass doesn’t slow her, but it’s short here, the silvery stalks only reaching to her knee. The fox is a barely visible streak of brown in the distance, but as I sight down the arrow, I know it’s mine.

The beat of hooves behind me softens as my companion’s horse also plunges into the grass. He’ll be too late, though. My arrow is already singing through the air. It strikes the fox in the side.


  1. There's beautiful imagery in this opening. It took me a bit to get into the story, though. The first few lines felt like they belonged in the distant past and tripped me up a little. I'm wondering if you could start with your MC on the horse, and then work in the opening lines later? I loved the line "I was never safe—but at least I was fast." Perhaps that could be your lead-in and then get him/her straight on the horse, and the reader into the action of your story. Good luck!

  2. I love the setting, the beautiful imagery in these paragraphs. I feel like there needs to be a hook to make me read on, something to pull me into the story. I agree with Lisa B. Her suggestion to make the line 'I was never safe-but at least I was fast' as your opening line. It's a great first line.
    Good luck! Susan

  3. This is very well written--I also agree with Lisa B and Susan about the starting point, maybe the first lines can come back as backstory later? I'd def read on, I'm curious about who this character is, where they are and when.

  4. Great language and style! I like your first line, but agree with some of the others that the transition from past to present could be smoother. I don't think you need to cut anything, just give us a bit more hints about how the past connects to the present.

    Also, I think you should give the "companion" a name.

    Good luck!

  5. Lovely imagery and really strong writing. I don’t love the start of a memory of running, it kind of lumps two less than ideal story beginnings together. We don’t know this character well enough to really care about her memories, they don’t help with characterization at this point. And there is a school of editors and agents that believe that a character escaping from something isn’t a good way to begin a story. In this instance I actually think we get a lot of good information about the protagonist from the opening of them being on a horse and hunting, it might be cool to see more connection between them and the animal to show us a little something more about them. Again, really strong. Great voice.