Sick and Stuffy Editor: Victoria
Working Title: The Underground Prince
One moment I am laughing with my father. The next thing I know, the castle I call home is a war zone.
Father tells me to go into my room and lock the door until he says it is safe. Right after he says that, he runs down the hall with my uncle towards the armory. Reluctantly, I obey my father’s orders and run towards my room. Knights and guards run past me towards the battle. Servants and other castle workers scatter in all directions. Some carry bed sheets or baskets of food, since they were trying to prepare supper before this happened. A few tell me to get to my quarters before I am killed, either by the enemy, or my father.
As I round a corner, I hear bits and pieces of news about the battle. “The Galbactians have attacked!” “They’ve come back with a vengeance this time ‘round!” “They’re gaining ground fast, they’ve already breeched the inner walls!” The one that gets me the most is, “We’re losing men faster than we can replenish them!” When I hear this, I stop running. I pause long enough to figure out what the most direct route to the armory is without being detected by my father. After a moment, I decide to take one of my many shortcuts. No one else knows about it but me, so I know I can get there undetected. I am only 13, but I am a good swordsman, and my father needs me.
Strong Points -
Wow, that first line plunges us right into the action! That's a great way to hook your reader, and it's a very effective way to keep them reading. The chaos of the castle gets my blood going, gets me asking questions that will definitely have me hanging. Within the first few paragraphs you've set up a really scary situation, and when the prince goes to help dad, man I'm freaking out. But I'm cheering him on, too. A prince should want to help, and since he does, I want him to help. That says a lot about his character, but a lot of good things!
Also, you've done good at clipping your writing down to a very quick pace. Your sentences are shorter, which packs a harder punch. That's good for this sort of scene, as long sentences will drag down your pace.
Some Tips -
I think you need to plump this up a little bit. you do have clipped sentences, but they are dry of a lot of sensory details, and almost sort of removed from our main character even though we're supposed to be in his head. I have little idea of what he's feeling, what he's seeing.
Is his heart pounding? Are his palms sweaty? Ears ringing? Or maybe he's eerily calm, and all of the commotion is muffled and distant? I don't know. He doesn't mention any of this, but these are things that I want to know, especially if I'm going to be in this boy's head for the entirety of a book. He needs more of a voice to flesh out what you have going.
Just as well, 'castle' is a vague term. I picture a medieval castle in all of it's stereotypical glory, but is that what it is? You have no details about the surroundings in here. Now, you can't dump a ton of them in. As mentioned, you need to keep everything quick-moving here, and unloading the castle onto your readers will slow everything down. But you can snip a few things in here and there, such as his feet scuffing the marble or what-have-you floors, or wine splattered on a tapestry, or the scent of fire and fluttering ashes wafting in through the windows. Give me something more than just 'castle'.
Also, beware of telling. Things such as 'I am a good swordsman', that sort of thing may just pack a better punch when you show them that this thirteen year-old boy has been trained with a sword. He'll hold it and know what the hilt feels like, the weight will be comfortable in his hand, and he's probably sank it into many targets and sliced through inanimate objects, but has he ever cut flesh with it?
Would I keep reading?
This is really hard. I'm so on the edge, nearly there. I can give you a soft yes by rounding up, but if you want a more solid answer I really, really hope you resubmit this to us. I would love to reread this once I have more of your MC's voice in there, and then I would be sold! Thanks so much for submitting, hope to hear from you soon. <3 <3 <3