Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #18

TITLE: Fallen Redemption
GENRE: Fantasy

I shifted my wings and crossed my legs. I’d been sitting here for almost half an hour, admiring the vibrant flora that surrounded me in heaven’s Garden, but today I couldn’t appreciate the beauty. My Archangel Rehniah was late.

I tapped my fingers against the redwood bench, carved millenniums ago by the Muses. Leaning forward, I peered around an immaculately trimmed bush. Two angels hurried in my direction along the polished gray and white stones, but neither was Rehniah.

She should have been here by now with news of my petition to ascend from the rank of Guardian. A breeze, carrying the scent of jasmine, ruffled the leafy canopy and the white feathers on my wings. Did her tardiness mean good news or bad? I stood, deciding to seek her out.

An angel stalked toward me with hands clenched. The lavender color of her wings proclaimed her a Muse, one of the specialties within the heavenly rank above mine. She hurried by, rustling the pink and purple orchids lining the stonework.

As she passed, her shoulder collided with me. I flapped my wings to regain my balance, searching for something polite but firm to say.

"Apologies," said the Guardian following her. “Yasva was given unpleasant tidings at the Praetorium.” He studied me.

As I returned his scrutiny, a shiver ran down my spine. Why was I so captivated by him? His face was no more handsome than any other angel’s. He was lean, muscled, and taller than me by half a head.


  1. You did an excellent job of grounding me in a new world, and I like that you dole out just the right details to let me know the conflict immediately.

    Nice job.

  2. First line works right off the bat to set up that "we're not in Kansas," and by the end of the first paragraph we are settled pretty nicely on where we are and who these people are.

    Then in just the first 250 words we also have motivation and the beginnings of a relationship issue.

    That's not easy in a fantasy. Well done.

    And yes, there is apparently romance in Heaven!

  3. Very well written. You can usually never go wrong with a heaven/angel story.

  4. I agree that it's a great first sentence, giving us a sense of the world as well as of the main character.

    However, the second sentence needs some tightening. If she (I'm guessing the gender) was admiring the flora, why couldn't she appreciate the beauty? Can you use a verb instead of "admiring" that tells us she's unappreciative?

    I'm seeing a lot of this in these first pages, and maybe it's just me, but did she really shiver looking at the guardian? Especially in a romantic situation, where I'd expect heat!

    So if she's confused about not being captivated by him, why is she telling us that he's lean muscled and taller? Unless on the next page, we find out that's normal for angels too. (Maybe we do).

    In response to Rick, I've actually happened across a good many guidelines that say they don't want stories that depend on anyone's religion actually being true. But myself, I love a good reimagining of religion and conflict in heaven!

    I also wonder if giving us a definition of what "bad" means--an angel waiting to find out if she's getting a promotion is interesting, I'd probably read on. But an angel waiting to find out if she's, say, getting cast from heaven--heck yeah I'll read on!

  5. You had me until you broke the pace with the new paragraph to describe him and her reaction to him. to keep the momentum you've created, interject her thoughts and reaction into her listening to him in passing. or at least an inclination that she's having a reaction to him. does her breath catch? Does she feel her pulse quicken? Does she feel uncomfortable? I think this would help paint the scene we're about to witness..

  6. I agree you’ve done a very good job placing us in an alternate setting! No confusion as to where we are, who the MC is, what her worry is. I was with you until the Muse. I couldn’t picture how the Muse’s shoulder collided with her. She was sitting on a bench, right? What part of her would the other’s shoulder hit, and hit hard enough to knock her off-balance?

    I also agree with Tracy about “admired” not fitting with “couldn’t appreciate.”

    To me, the last paragraph started to sound like a bodice-ripper. Except in a bodice-ripper, the two MCs are usually antagonistic toward each other in the beginning. Bodice-ripper or not, maybe you could add in a little conflict before jumping straight to captivation. At the very least, conflict between worrying about her promotion and attraction to him.

  7. I agree with the others in that I felt instantly grounded in the location, but not in the character. In Angelic lore, angels are most often male, which is what I assumed the narrator was, but by the end I realized either the angel is gay or a woman.

    I'm not sure which angelic mythology you're going with either. The mention of heaven and Archangels makes me think Biblical (archangels are typically associated with Jadaism or Christianity), but muses are Greek Mythology and are not of the angelic race (at least not in anything I've studied). As the author, you certainly have license to play with mythology, but the lack of gender and mixed references drew me too far out of the narrative to concentrate on the action.

    Also, I'm not sure why you capitalized "Garden" but not "heaven." Heaven would certainly be a proper noun to an angel?

    In re-reading the opening, I don't get a sense of the character's personality here. I know it's a lot to pull of in 250 words--fantasy setting, mythology, conflict, and personality--you could perhaps but the description of the bench and garden and give us more sense of who (s)he is or why (s)he wants to ascend.

  8. You're throwing quite a bit of world building at us in these first 250 words, but not much in the way of character. I'd like to know a bit more about our MC, and I don't need to know as much about the society she inhabits right off the bat.

    The abrupt attraction to the Guardian at the end of this passage feels forced. Unless this is a red herring, it feels like an arbitrary character attraction--if these two are going to get together later, allow it to build more naturally and gradually.