Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #16

GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Brina knew better than to go out in public looking less than her questionable best, and there, stuck to her locker, was the essence of why.

She’d figured hurrying home for her mother’s birthday party deserved a special endowment of luck. Dumb but true. She hadn’t even grown to human size first. Instead, she left her purse and car keys with her best friend Moira and launched herself out the palace window into the sweltering air of San Antonio, Texas.

The first flash came from her left and, like an idiot, she twisted toward it. Which is how the photographer’s zoom lens caught her: eyes opened wide, long braid slicked back from her face with her own sweat, and limbs sticking out at startled angles from her workout tank and short-shorts. All of it glowing softly brown in the dusk.

As a special bonus, the magazine’s cover photo captured the moment her four bright white wings froze in shock, sending her plummeting a few feet downward. The resulting portrait could have been entitled “Freak, Falling” but instead the headline proclaimed: “Human-Pixie Hybrids: The Last American Taboo.” That worked, too.

Naturally, the cover was taped to her locker first thing Tuesday morning.

It hadn’t been torn carefully, and a jagged gash ripped halfway through Brina’s right wing. As if she needed help looking ridiculous.

Brina stopped dead in the middle of the hallway and forced herself to breathe. Stretched her lips into a slight smile.


  1. The first two paragraphs leave me really confused. I'm thinking she handed her purse to her friend and jumped from the palace right then in the moment we're in.

    Then there are two phrases that I don't know the meaning of "endowment of luck" and "questionable best." Will I understand what those things mean once I get a little deeper into Brina's world?

  2. THis confused me. By the end, I had a sense of what was going on, but as I read it, I was totally confused.

    The locker in the first parg told me she was in school, but was she looking her best or not? I couldn't tell. It turned out that didn't matter at that point.

    Then I thought she was going to leave school and hurry home to Mom's party. I had no idea what the special endowment of luck was. ANd then suddenly, she isn't human sized, so I'm wondering how small she is, and how did she reach her locker. ANd were her purse and car keys tiny too, or regular sized. ANd then she launches herself out the palace window and I'm thinking, but she hasn't even gotten home yet.

    By the third parg I was beginning to get what you were talking about and what you were trying to do.

    Perhaps rethink this opening and tell events in chronological order. Maybe let us know earlier she is a pixie. BUt definitely make the situation clearer so a reader knows what is going on.

  3. I didn't realize that it was a flashback about the thing taped to her locker until a paragraph or two in. So I'd do something to make sure we know she's talking about what is on her locker, such as "the picture torn from a magazine showed her caught on film at a fraction of her human size..."

  4. I like the idea a lot, but you need to change the order of things. The first para is ok. Then, you need to make clear that she is staring at the cover of a magazine, then describe whats on it, leaving out the reasons why she flew (that's backstory and can come later). It would make this much easier to understand.

  5. I'm really loving the premise here and the idea of human-pixie hybrids makes me totally want to read this now!

    I'm with the others.. I think a bit of shifting is necessary, but it didn't have me that confused really. Just a bit of reorganisation and I think you've got it.

    Love it!! Voice, pace, everything. I want to read more :)

  6. This is a bit confusing. The writing is very vivid, but "human size" threw me. Also, the first line distances me. I'd rather see her thoughts, than she "knew." Voice is so important in YA and I don't get a feeling of a strong voice. I'd read on, but if a strong voice didn't develop soon, I wouldn't make it beyond a few chapters.

  7. i'm just totally lost here, but maybe b/c i don't read much YA urban fantasy. who's taking the photo? is she tiny here? it needs to be more clear. also wondering about the title, but i'm sure that's explained in the book. but i LOVE your opening sentence--it is PERFECT.

  8. I would change "there" in the first sentence to "the picture". That would clarify the what of the moment, even if not the why.

    I'd also suggest just staying in the scene in school rather than throwing all the backstory at us at once. If she sees the picture, notices people treating her differently, pointing, laughing, etc., it gives us an idea of what's going on for her, emotionally. Describing the picture at the beginning might also serve the same purpose (after the first sentence, of course).

    Question: So her clothes shrink to fit, but her keys, etc. don't?

    I don't read much urban fantasy, so the fact of her nature doesn't pull me in as a hook. As already said by others, I would read on a few pages to see if a hook develops or the voice concretizes, but wouldn't keep reading if they didn't. Your writing is good, but I want something else to draw me on.

  9. The good news: you develop a strong sense of who she is as a character in just a few lines. I like this girl.

    The bad news: in an attempt to intrigue the reader, you just confuse the reader. It's a fine line--you want to give us enough info to suck us in, but you need to give us more so we can follow the story.

    I might still keep reading however because I do like the concept as well as the character.

  10. Thanks everyone! I've now rewritten it (again) to remove the first-sentence reference to the locker, her mother's b-day, and some of the other confusing stuff. (I hope.) Do you think that will help?

    This is the new first paragraph:
    Brina knew better than to go out in public looking less than her questionable best. But she was late, and it was rush hour, and home was thirty minutes away by car… but only ten by air. So she left her human-sized purse and car keys with her best friend Moira and launched her mouse-sized self out the palace window into the sweltering air of San Antonio, Texas.


    Thanks for all your advice! I SOO appreciate it!