Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #38

TITLE: Arrano
GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy

It was on the table in front of me. The glass filled to the rim. I pulled out my chair and sat down, my stomach already nauseous. Its scent hit my nose, a mix between salt, raw meat, and river water.

My mother sat across from me, her sharp green eyes staring, making sure I didn’t try to sneak away without drinking the liquid.

“It’s somewhat of…an acquired taste,” she said. “But once you feel its effects, you’ll crave it. An addiction you’ll welcome, I promise you.” She sat at the head of the table, her blonde hair pulled into a tight bun at the back of her head. Light bounced from the chandelier and onto her diamond earrings, the room swimming with dots of iridescent rainbows. I wanted to throw the glass against the wall.

“Do I have to drink it all?” I asked, my voice coming out softer than I wanted it to.

She nodded, her eyes slightly closing as she bowed her head.

I lifted the glass, the concoction swishing as I brought it up to my lips. I hesitated. The liquid was a deep purple with swirls of red that seemed to be alive. I’d seen my mother drink this a thousand times. I’d been witness to its effects, her eyes brightening whenever she drank it.

“There’s no need to be nervous,” she said. “You were meant to drink it.”

She’d been telling me this my entire life. But I still didn’t know where the liquid came from.


  1. Cool beginning. Keep going. Hope the tension stays this tight.

  2. The thing that caught me was that her mother was trying to get her to drink it. Especially when she described it as "An addiction you'll welcome." It almost made me afraid for the MC.

    I do wonder what type of person the MC is. Do they always listen to their mother? Are they defiant? I would like to see that more in the beginning, but there is already enough happening to interest me.

  3. Interesting premise and writing. A few suggestions:

    How about "Its familiar scent," since she's seen her mother drink it a thousand times?

    I can't visualize the concoction "swishing" when it's full to the rim, though. Did you mean swirling? Or is something swimming around in it?

    Also, I presume she knows she has to drink it all. What if she asked, instead, something such as "Does it taste like it smells?"

  4. This is great! I got a good sense of the MC's voice and POV right away. The tension b/t mother and daughter comes across immediately with the description of the mother and the daughter's soft voice.

    I am super curious about what this stinky liquid is, where they are, who they are, and why addiction is (the mother says) so great. Who gets to get addicted? How much does it cost? What happens if you don't, if you resist? Is the narrator high status, "chosen" somehow? Who "chooses" the high status ppl in this world, how, and why? Who doesn't drink and why? Will the narrator meet these ppl + will they help her? Of course none of these questions are anything you have to answer in the first 250, but all this came to me as I read and made me want to read more right away.

    Couple of small things -- how could the narrator "sneak away" if she's in this room with her mother staring her down? Also, her mother is sitting, so I picture the narrator sitting too -- not easy to "sneak" from a sitting position. Are you suggesting the narrator has resisted addiction in the past by not drinking the liquid her mother left out for her yet didn't watch her daughter drink? It took me a while to get there, if that's what you're shooting for.

    Hope this helps. And keep posting to MSFV. I want to read more :)

  5. This is very intriguing! I was definitely pulled in by your specific description of the liquid's scent. Very unusual. I would certainly read on.

    The only change I would make is the first sentence. It's passive, which is a little jarring for the first thing we read. Maybe replace "was" with "sat?" (Or whatever best suits your style). I'd also change the period into a comma to combine the first two sentences. The second sentence sounds a little awkward on its own.

    Good luck!

  6. Wow, this is really cool. I'm just wondering what the liquid is...

  7. This is great! I can only echo the few comments above. I'd like a hint of the MC's feelings about this drink and her mother's "addiction" to it, especially if her mother seems to love it and if she's known this was coming for a long time. I could see her being apprehensive that the day is finally here.

    I would definitely keep reading. Great opening!

  8. Excellent job at creating an emotional disconnect between the main character, mother, and reader!

    I would like a bit more commentary from the main character because while I'm throwing up red flags for her, I'm not sure if she's reluctant, afraid, or magically coerced.

  9. There's a good air of mystery about this piece, what with Mother trying to make this person drink some mysterious, nasty-smelling liquid, promising addiction, that seems to go against everything a parent would do, and I'm interested and would read more. BUT, I really don't like that first paragraph. I think you'd be better off being a little more direct there: "The glass sat in front of me, filled to the rim with..." The whole it-it-it thing feels too much like forced mystery. Otherwise, interesting.

  10. I liked this and would continue reading. I associated swishing with air movement — a basketball through a net.. Sloshing may be a better word choice.


  11. I liked this. You've created tension, suspense and conflict, which all lead me to ask all the same questions Brigid asked. I'd read more.

    I liked the fact that you called it an addiction, and then had her mom coaxing her to try it, just like a junkie might coax a friend - a 'let's all be in this together' attitude.

    What I didn't get was a sense of the two being adversaries, or of the MC fearing mom. Is mom a bad guy here, or just a typical mom trying to get her picky child to eat her vegetables? Perhaps make clearer what the situation is between them.

    Nicely done!

  12. I don't know if your first sentence is the best one to grab the reader - maybe use a shortened version of the second paragraph sentence "My mother sat across from me....," or "Do I have to drink it at all?" I liked this - obviously the MC doesn't trust his/her mother, and I wonder if he's also a little afraid of her, since he didn't put up much of a fight before drinking the liquid. I'd read on, wanting to find out more about their relationship and what the liquid does.

  13. Ooh, I liked it. Great tension. I'm disliking the mother already. It raised lots of questions for me in the good way. At the moment, I'm guessing it's to do with the undead. I want to read on and hope to see it in published form one day.

  14. You're able to condense your sentences to make better impact, so do it. A few examples of reconstructed sentences: Her sharp eyes demanding I drink it; An addiction you'll welcome, I promise; Her blonde hair pulled into a tight bun; I lifted the glass, the concoction moving as I brought it to my lips (removed the word up); I hesitated. It shone deep purple with swirls of living redness.

  15. Great sense of tension between mother and daughter. I’m curious to keep going and find out what the liquid does, but would also love to hear what got us to this particular scene. If this the first time the MC is being forced to drink it, why is that? Is she a certain age, or is this a significant day for some reason? I couldn’t quite get a sense of the scent of the liquid, especially with “scent of river water” in there – could you introduce some other scents that will really stick with your reader? The description of the smell also didn’t quite jive with the appearance of the liquid later on. Also a bit more about the mom’s reaction to the drink would be great – why does your MC resist it so much? Has she seen her mom do anything dangerous or behave in weird ways after having the drink?

  16. The first sentence is very weak. Maybe you could move some of the description of the drink further up (aka "Swirls of red made the deep purple drink look alive as it sat on the table in front of me" or some such).