Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #14

TITLE: Arrano
GENRE: YA Fantasy

I was sixteen, and this was my first summer to change.

At sunset the marrow in my bones would disintegrate, hollowing out, making my body light enough for flight. My blood pounded in my ears, and I felt like my lungs had been lassoed with chains.

I looked up at the skylight in the ceiling, the panes of glass more than twenty feet wide. It had been built years ago to allow us to fly out of the house without injury. The sapphire sky glowed above me, but its beauty was lost in the pain that awaited me, that awaited all of us. I rubbed at my temples, my head already starting to ache.

It was the first day of summer. Nelson would be the first of us to change because he was the oldest. I was the youngest, so I would be the last.

I pushed the coffee table against the wall, and shoved the couch back. The shag rug wasn’t soft enough. Nelson was almost forty, making the change more dangerous since his human body had transitioned so many times. His arms and legs needed more padding to prevent bruises and breaks. I layered thick quilts on top of the rug. The pillow I always used to cushion his head wasn’t on the couch. I searched the room for it, panic racing through me. He had to have the pillow. His head needed that pillow.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs made me turn my head.


  1. Oo! Definitely intrigued! I wonder what they turn into. I also like the description in the second paragraph of how the change will feel. Good luck!

  2. I am intrigued also. I would like to read more.

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  4. I definitely want to see this change, and I'm intrigued by your set up here! Coming of age stories with a twist like this are so fascinating. I think you can make this even stronger though.

    I would leave "I was sixteen" out of the beginning, and just say it was her first summer to change. You can get "I was sixteen" in later, "I was the youngest, at sixteen, so I would be the last." I just think that will give you the most compelling first sentence.

    Lungs lassoed with chains? That seems very heavy for a lightening moment...If that's a contrast in this transformation, that could be interesting.

    Sapphire sky? Sapphire is an alert for me as it's often used in cliche ways even though it is such a lovely word.

    I don't quite get the urgency and panic about a pillow. It's just a pillow. Will he die if he doesn't have it? If it's that important, why is she just checking it now? I think if you tell us more about why he needed it, this will be better.

    It will be interesting to see whose footsteps are there. Someone coming with a pillow?! I suspect, something more ominous.

    I'd read on!

  5. Awesome starting point. I would definitely read on.

  6. Very interesting premise with people (I’m assuming) being able to fly! The first two lines are telling, though. Maybe I’m slow b/c I don’t read much sci-fi but I have a lot of questions.

    Has she observed others do this, and that’s how she knows it hurts? Does it hurt only during the transformation? Is there a joy to flying that balances out the pain? I’m guessing they transform on the first day of summer but at some point transform back? How do they get through the skylight? (Maybe mention the mechanism for opening it.) What makes the sapphire sky glow? (Stars? Is it just after midnight—the official start of a day?) Why is she by herself—where are the others? Why is she in charge of Nelson’s “padding”? Why must there be padding if they’re going to fly? (I could understand the need for padding, if they’re going to land.)

    Could be tightened. I looked up at the skylight. Delete “in the ceiling”. I rubbed at my temples (Delete “at.”) Delete “of us” in “first of us”. “I turned at the sound of footsteps” instead of “made me turn my head.”

  7. This is fascinating set-up. Your MC is going to turn into a bird? Wow!

    This could do for some polishing, but that's my only real complaint. Example: "It was the first day of summer. Nelson would be the first..." Misplaced comma: "I pushed the coffee table against the wall, and shoved the couch back."

  8. This is a very intriguing opening, made more so because I initially interpreted your opening line as that of a YA contemporary story (so-and-so is no longer a girl, and now everything will be different). This was a very clever turn on the phrase.

    You could do with a little tightening and reining in of flowery description. Use lavish similes sparingly (e.g., "like my lungs had been lassoed with chains") and flowery adjectives (e.g., "sapphire sky").

    Nitpicking note: If they all know the transformation is upon them, why did our MC wait until the last minute to set up the crucial pillows? Seems like unnecessary mini-drama. Your opening is intriguing enough without it!