Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #16

GENRE: YA Fantasy

Nolan’s eyelids felt as though they were weighted with lead, but he fought to keep them open. He knew he needed to sleep, but he felt like if he lay down right now he’d wake up with fingers so frozen he’d be able to snap them off. Three inches from Kris’s magical fire, they were just getting enough sensation back now to feel as though he’d stuffed them into a sack full of needles.

“How can it be this cold even with the fire burning?” Kris murmured. By the firelight, Nolan could see her breath mist out in front of her. A crack in her lower lip shone with blood, contrasting sharply with the chalkiness of her cheeks. Very stiffly, she reached to unlace her left boot. She winced as she pulled her foot free to massage her toes.

“It’s like the mountains eat the heat up,” Nolan said. “How do you feel? Do you think you can…”

Kris nodded tiredly. “I can keep it going.”

Nolan held her eyes. “Don’t burn yourself out.”

She snorted. “Don’t tell me how to do magic, Nolan. I’ve been rationing all I can. I’m fine.” She stuffed her left foot back into the boot and pulled her right foot out. “How much farther, do you think?”

Nolan shrugged and breathed into his hands. “We have three days until midwinter. I think it’ll take us right until the end.”


  1. Beautiful writing--I found myself right in the scene with them. I also really, REALLY like your title. I'd definitely read on. Good luck!

  2. I enjoyed this but think you could tighten up your writing a bit.

    Ex - 'felt as though they were' could simply be 'felt'

    Also, phrases like 'he felt like...' and 'Nolan could see' are distancing. You could bring it closer to Nolan by writing 'He needed sleep, but if he lay down right now, he'd wake up with...' and 'By the firelight, Kris' breath misted in front of her...'
    But I'm curious about their predicament and would read on.

  3. Annette makes a good point about some of the phrases regarding the fact that they distance the reader from the MC.

    However, I would still definitely read on because I think you have something excellent here.

    Good job and much luck!

  4. Some of the wording in the first paragraph is definitely a little awkward, but I love the imagery in the second paragraph. Kris's cracked lip is a great touch, and completely brings me into the scene. I don't just think it's cold where they are, I KNOW how cold it is. Perhaps you could do the same in the first paragraph, focus on his fingers and bring out more hard hitting imagery. Maybe his fingers are so cold he can barely get his gloves off (was he wearing gloves?) Or so cold he can't even bend them?
    Also, I think I'd rather find out on my own that the fire was magical through the dialog, rather than you outright telling me. I feel like Kris's line after she snorts would have a little more power and surprise then.
    Great job setting up the stakes, and the dialog was excellent. I really enjoyed this, and hope to be able to read more. As the saying goes, I'd turn the page!

  5. I think this has potential. I like the immediate conflict about whether they'll freeze and the interactions between Nolan and Kris.

    But I'd like to see more of the tension Nolan is feeling come through -- he seems very calm about possibly freezing, which makes him seem a little distant. I'm also not sure starting with the lengthy description of how he's feeling is working -- I need a general statement about how cold it is, or something, to help me put those reactions in context.

    But with some modifications I think this could be a very strong opening.

  6. I love your writing. I actually felt cold reading your description.

    To me, it felt like this was a scene from slightly further into the story. I'm not sure how to address that, and it didn't seem to bother anyone else, but I wanted to mention it.