Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Secret Agent #14

TITLE: The Magic Withheld
GENRE: Contemporary fantasy

The mugger tripped and sprawled on the sidewalk, his face breaking the fall. Viscous curses oozed from between his fingers as he sat up. It was at that moment Justus Aubre lost the inner battle he had waged after tripping the mugger. He exploded in laughter.

The mugger, glaring over sausage thick fingers, was about the funniest thing he'd seen in a while. Strange that it was laughing that earned him such a savage look and not the cause of the face plant, the rope of conjured Air.

Under the streetlights in the dark parking lot, people from the concert shifted, the individuals eyeing the scene then moving away. The elderly victim rubbed his bare wrist with gnarled fingers leaving Justus to grind his teeth. All this fuss over an old man's flashy gold watch made for complications tried to avoid.

Like drawing attention to his abilities. Not good. He must not lose control again.

He stood slack-hipped, smiled at the mugger, and gripped his emotions in a mental fist, holding the squirming elements. He must not lose control…

Calm. Stay calm, stay focused.

“Whatcha think you're laughin' at,” the thug said.

“It doesn't take rocket surgery to figure that out,” Justus said.

Damn. Laughing and talking too much, what a combination.

The mugger sucked in a breath then scrunched his face into a crooked mass, as if the cool night air had razored past those broken teeth like sharp glass.


  1. "Viscous curses oozed from between his fingers as he sat up"
    This made me think he was a magician. But after a little thought I decided he could have put his hands over his face. You might want to clarify that. Other than that, I quite like the beginning. Also, there is no real conflict yet because the MC has no trouble coping with the mugger. There should be some conflict soon though.

  2. This feels kind of overblown to me. A lot of the descriptions don't really work in the context they're used in and it feels like you're using them just to show off how clever you can be with language. A few of these in an entire manuscript wouldn't be a problem, but this many in the first couple of paragraphs screams at me.

    I mean... "The mugger sucked in a breath then scrunched his face into a crooked mass, as if the cool night air had razored past those broken teeth like sharp glass." is two in one sentence.

    I think you should tone it down. Every time a reader has to stop to think about what a phrase or image means, they're pulled out of the story.

  3. While you do have a great way with description, I have to say I agree with Kate. Try to streamline. Maybe pick your favorite descriptions and go with those rather than piling them all on at once.

    But that doesn't mean quit! Just remember, "less is more." yes? You're a talented writer!

    All the best~ :o) <3

  4. The word "Viscous" looked like "Vicious" to me at first, because it was linked to "curses." Perhaps you could find a different word that gives the same texture, or just a different figure of speech.
    Overall, I would agree with Kate and LTM. Did you notice that if you delete the words "It was at that moment," the sentence becomes stronger?

  5. I thought this was a lot of words that said very little. WHo is Justus? Where is Justus? What is he trying to accomplish? What does he want? What is his problem? None of these questions are answered or hinted at in this opening. You haven't given me a reason to care about him or his story, nor any clues to guess at what his story might be. Perhaps consider starting somewhere else.

    Not hooked.

  6. Again, I agree with others here that the author is stretching language in a way that is more confusing, rather than innovative. What does slack-hipped look like? What are viscous curses? The author should focus more on the relevant details of the scene to set up the story (Why is Justus laughing all the time? Why pick on this old man? What's at stake? What are his abilities?) instead of wordplay.