Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #29

TITLE: Firekeeper
GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy

The firebird sat atop an old-fashioned mailbox at Dharma Downs Lane. Rather than retreat to the safety of nearby trees and rooftops as any sensible animal would have done, it drew itself up, as regal as any queen, and waited for the shades to attack.

The shades in question were already closing in, and assuming frightening, monstrous shapes. Some took human form, with long sharp claws in place of hands. Others took on semblances of wolves and bears and strange winged creatures; black eyeless silhouettes with teeth.

The firebird chirped a warning, but the shades paid little heed. So it sighed - a resigned, I-really-did-warn-you-about-this-you-know sigh - and glowed. Its feathers, a variety of yellows and reds and oranges tipped with a subtle silver shimmer, flared. Its majestic tail fanned out like a vestal train, whipping at slow, concentrated intervals. Despite its bravado, it had a wide-eyed curiosity about it suggesting it had not been a firebird for very long and, if the shades had their way, would not be one for much longer.
The nearest shade reached out for the bird, claws extended and sharp. It was promptly engulfed in an angry red blaze.

For one brief second the firebird reared; smoldering, ardent, angry. In the next it shifted and lengthened, beak and wings giving way to limbs and legs.

Now, a young girl crouched. Feathered crown had given way to a spirited mess of hair that lashed around her bare body like coiled firelight.

9 comments:

Crystal Licata said...

The story sound unique and I would probably keep reading. The only problem I have is the third paragraph gets a little too descriptive especially for the first 250 words. Maybe spread the description around later and start with more of the action.

J.R. Wortham said...

I love the title and the premise of the story. I agree with Crystal. I got bogged down in the third paragraph. Sometimes, less is more when dealing with adjectives. The last line is awesome.

Thanks for sharing your work.

Cheerful Hiker said...

This is a great start. I liked and was surprised by the firebird/ girl transformation.

I think you could take out "and waited for the shades to attack" and then change the first part of para 2 to "The shades closed in, assuming . ."

I think "if the shades had their way , would not be one for much longer" is a point of view shift.

Stephsco said...

I really liked this. It sounds like something exciting and magical awaits.

Danica said...

Woah, this is amazing!
Great writing, and such an eye-catching, genuinely surprising ending, with her turning. I want to know her, especially bc I already liked her personality as a bird. :)
Some simple suggestions about this paragraph:

The firebird chirped a warning, but the shades paid little heed. So it sighed - a resigned, I-really-did-warn-you-about-this-you-know sigh - and glowed. Its feathers, a variety of yellows and reds and oranges tipped with a subtle silver shimmer, flared. Its majestic tail fanned out like a vestal train, whipping at slow, concentrated intervals. Despite its bravado, it had a wide-eyed curiosity about it suggesting it had not been a firebird for very long and, if the shades had their way, would not be one for much longer."

I'd prefer it said "-- and began to glow." THEN go into the beautiful specifics.

now for personal preference/nitpicky things.
Don't be afraid to clip your sentences. It saves time and can offer a more unique voice.

You start with "its" twice, which throws off your chance for better cadence. I'd switch up the second sentence but keep the meat of it.


Just to recap, I tweaked it a bit to what would really catch my eye as a reader.

"The firebird chirped a warning, but the shades paid little heed. So it sighed - a resigned, I-really-did-warn-you-about-this-you-know sigh - and began to glow. Subtle, shimmering silver tipped its feathers of yellow, red and orange, flaring like hot embers. Its majestic tail fanned out like a vestal train, whipping at slow, concentrated intervals. Despite its bravado, it had a wide-eyed curiosity about it suggesting it had not been a firebird for very long and, if the shades had their way, would not be one for much longer.

When the nearest shade reached out for the bird, claws extended and sharp, the shadow screamed. A red blaze raked up its black body, devouring it; and then all that remained was ash.

The firebird reared, glowed brighter -- smoldering, ardent, angry. In the next second it shifted and lengthened, beak and wings becoming limbs and legs.

Now, a young girl crouched. Feathered crown had given way to a spirited mess of hair that lashed around her bare body like coiled firelight.

Basically, just be careful about using the same words/sentence structures right after each other -- it makes for a more interesting read that way, and will getcha noticed. I'm seriously upset this book isn't published. I would read the whole damn thing based on these 250 words. You have amazing sight for seductive wording. "coiled firelight" "lashed around her bare body" "firebird chirped a warning"

I didn't like the beginning sentence mentioning a place I'm not familiar with, so maybe just change it to mailbox? You can introduce us to setting later. Right now, the plot and this girl and the shades are what matter. Again, this is all personal preference! I frequently read YA fantasy, YA urban fantasy, and the like. If ya like my thoughts and want to hear more, (but hopefully, you'll be hearing from an agent like, uh, right NOW so I can read this thing) -- you can reach me at danicapaige@gmail.com


Thanks for submitting! It was a pleasure to read!

Joy said...

The descriptions didn't bother me at all. I liked them. The only thing that threw me at first (and this is just a personal thing) was that the MC was a bird. While I love animals in reality, I have a thing about animals that talk. I can't handle them - my poor kids will forever be deprived of movies like Cats and Dogs. Anyway, I felt much better after it turned into a girl. Because you were able to fit that into the 1st 250 words I would definitely keep reading. Nicely done.

Rosalyn said...

I also enjoyed the descriptions--the last sentence was particularly well done.

For me, the only thing that threw me a little (and I may be the only one) was a subtle shift in the middle of the third paragraph. The firebird's sigh--the "I-really-did-warn-you-about-this" suggests a level of experience and confidence that seemed at odds with the wide-eyed curiosity. This is a fairly minor thing, however, and I keep reading to see what happens with the girl and the shades.

Layla Messner said...

Ooo, a story about a girl/firebird. I'm already rooting for her and would definitely read on.
p.s. I love the description of the girl's hair

Secret Agent said...

Interesting...it felt like there were some extraneous or overly-explanatory details scattered throughout (does it have to be an old-fashioned mailbox? Is it "the shades in question" or just "they"? Should the narrator be making such analytical, presumptuous descriptions of the firebird, extrapolating so much from a mixture of bravado and wide-eyed-curiosity?) but there's also a pretty vivid imagination on display here, so it's tough for me to say which way I fall on this...