Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #34

TITLE: The Apollo Academy

Aurora Titon was so close to touching the stars that she could almost feel imaginary wings sprouting from her back. What would it be like to leave this blue sky for the open, black vastness of the world beyond? She imagined viewing earth from above, being able to fly wherever she wanted. Aurora shook her head, trying to dislodge those thoughts. She needed to focus or else none of her hard work would matter.

She looked down at her hot-pink tennis shoes and watched their logo flash in an ever-changing rainbow of bright colors. They were her lucky shoes, and she had worn them today for that exact reason. She needed all the luck she could get. The hot, humid Florida air pressed down on her, its heavy, pregnant weight reminding her of the day’s importance. Determined to make her dreams come true, Aurora marched alongside the other potential cadets, toward the security gate that sheltered the Apollo Academy.

Even from a distance, the Academy’s sheer magnitude was impressive. She could just make out the gold swirling Academy logo, which stood out in stark relief against a brilliantly white background. Aurora stared at the delicate symbol that showcased two intertwined A’s that twirled together with a shuttle and stars. It was a tease for her, to be allowed this close without knowing if she would be admitted further.

The only thing standing between Aurora and her dream was an initiation test...


  1. I enjoyed this. Not an "action-packed" scene, but a nice intro to your MC and a tease of the kind of world we're dealing with.

    My only editing remarks would be in your third paragraph - the description of the Academy logo. Speaking as a graphic design person, I don't think of the pale yellow of gold standing out "in stark relief" to white. The two sentences also felt slightly clunky/wordy. You say two different ways that she was looking at it, and the second uses a "that...that" construction that could be shortened.

    Storywise, my only internal caveat would be I've seen/read a lot of sci-fi stories involving a young student entering a prestigious academy of some sort. Of course, what makes a story truly unique are the characters who inhabit it and the author who writes it, and I'm intrigued enough I would keep reading. Thanks for sharing! :-)

  2. I really liked the image of Aurora's hot pink tennis shoes. That stuck with me right away as something I could attach to the MC.

    The opening paragraph felt a bit amorphous. I wasn't sure what to take away from it. It could be a personal preference, but I much more enjoyed the concrete images of the next paragraphs.

    I'm curious to know more about this initiation test and I would certainly keep reading.

  3. I absolutely love your descriptive writing. The story, itself, wasn't my normal read, but your imagery held me. By your style alone, I'd definitely keep reading!

  4. I like your first sentence a lot, but I'd consider leaving out the word "imaginary." Could your second and 3rd sentences be combined to tighten things up a bit? Your writing is very solid, and I'd keep reading.

  5. I might cut a few descriptors to streamline it. The sentence that sticks out for this reason in a bad way), 'The hot, humid Florida air pressed down on her, its heavy pregnant weight reminding her of the days importance.'

    Other than that, I liked this. I liked the lucky shoes bit:)

  6. I like this too, but something about the imaginary wings threw me off. Since it's sci-fi, it's far of a stretch for a reader to think that one of her goals might be to actually gain wings and that's kinda what I thought at first. I do like imagery, but I'm wondering if you could use a space related one instead. Maybe something added to her touching the stars? like feeling their heat or the weightlessness of space and how that weightlessness carries her to the Academy, like her steps are light in her lucky shoes? I don't know. lol those are just ideas. Overall, I like this and I think your writing is well done. :)

  7. eek. Meant it say: it's *not too far* of a stretch for a reader to think one of her goals might be to actually gain wings.

  8. Ha, I've read and critiqued this before. I love the name and the novel, which I'm sure I've mentioned before and your writing style is engaging and fun!

  9. I liked this, but I didn't love it. You use a lot of adjectives to describe one thing (for example hot, humid, heavy and pregant describe the Florida air) and that weighs the writing down a little.

    I like Aurora well enough. I like that she's willing to take steps to make her dreams come true.

    What would change this from like to love would definitely be stream-lining. Don't make me wallow in adjectives -- sweep me along with strong descriptions.

    All in all, really good.

  10. While there's not a lot of action in here, I like it. I'd read more. Absolutely. It does the job. I want to know more about this world, about the Academy and the MC.

    I want some of those shoes...

  11. I would stick with your favorite descriptors and pare down from there (just one for the Florida heat instead of several). Opening with deep thoughts can be a tough sell; I don't mind it but I think you can say as much with less; pick the best and cut the rest. Then you have more room to show us earlier how she's unsure if she'll be accepted to the academy. Why? can you show us this right away -- even a hint of it?

    I think you'll need to distinguish what makes your academy story different than the rest -- I don't know that putting the academy in space is enough. I do realize this is only the first few paragraphs, so I would read on to get a grasp of the story. I would just keep that initial conflict ready to go right away.

  12. I like this. It's not tons of tension and action and whathaveyou, but it's a nice intro to your world. I would definitely keep reading. :)

  13. The first paragraph is nice writing but I think this is a case of that old saying "kill your darlings" because it tells us nothing nor does it situate the action. "Hot, humid Florida air" pressing down on her with its "pregnant weight" is too much purple prose. marching towards a special Academy is interesting but we have no idea what they do there or why she is a candidate. Also, I am not sure, but everything in YA these days seems to mirror a Hogwarts mentality (just how many special schools can we have?). I guess I would say more focus - who is she, why is she special and what is her main fear? Good luck.

  14. This is definitely solid writing. It seems like the plot has a lot of potential. The first paragraph is a little heavy handed and vague. But it really picks up from there and I am interested in the plot. I'm not in love with the mc's voice. There is nothing bad about it but it doesn't really stand out as anything unique.