Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #5

TITLE: Saerlaith First Glance
GENRE: Young Adult

“Come on, come on, come on,” Lace muttered. She paced, stopped, looked around seeing naught but streetlights and the occasional passer-by. In the distance, a dog bawled. Although familiar, this part of the Midwestern United States with its small towns, the era with its faster pace, wasn’t like her adoptive home. Where another would have seen the out of place figure, no one in this time took notice. She pulled the long travelling cloak tighter and began the pace again.

“Where are you?” she whispered, then a little louder as if that might help, “Please, show yourself.”

She had come on the promise of a prophecy, but time was running out.

Running out, nearer to expired.

Lace rubbed her arm glancing inside the diner to her travel companions. They were eating and laughing.

Laughing, if I were inside…The lot didn’t know the gravity of the situation. None knew the truth of their travel, nor how near the end stood. She lifted the sleeve of her tunic. Angry red furrows marred her arm where a turn gone, shown mere scratches. She’d known better than to have invoked the magic that kept them safe, yet felt little choice.

“Dark as blood.” She breathed into a night suddenly gone blackest pitch and chilled. Every light within a block extinguished. Not that it limited her sight, only stiffened her back at the possible foreboding. Lace closed her eyes and remembered the gathering at the tavern. The argue of blame before the others arrived. Then… him.


  1. This sample feels intentionally different, but I'm not sure I connected to the voice of this character. I found myself wondering, "Can a dog bawl?"

    Also, I wish there was a genre with this piece so I knew a little more about what type of story to expect.

    Good luck in the contest!

  2. The opening parg intrigued me. The word 'naught' gave me a sense of long ago, but was immediately followed by street lights which put me in modern times, and then the word era clued me into the fact that we were dealing with time travel. I wanted to read more.

    Unfortunately, what followed was vague and unclear, and I couldn't figure out if she had come from the past to the future or from the future to the past, or maybe even from a parallel world.

    I also don't know why they're there. Yes, there was a prophecy, and the world seems to be coming to an end, but that's too generic. Maybe say what the prophecy is, and tell us why the world is coming to an end?

    Overall, this was just too vague and unclear to hold me.

  3. I'm intrigued by this but I'm not sure it's set up the best way just yet. I loved the line about the prophecy and could see that working as an opener. Or perhaps the "where are you?" line could come first, then the prophecy line, and then the paragraph explaining the surroundings. It feels like we need to know she is waiting on something mystical first rather than seeing slightly odd phrasing early on without context (since no genre was given I didn't know this was fantasy until I read about the prophecy).

    I am OK with not knowing what the prophecy is yet as long as the world building continues to give hints along the way, and the character is more fully introduced. I would also suggest having something happen soon rather than her waiting and thinking about the world/plot and explaining to the reader. You can show some of that detail once another character enters or something else happens that will show a bit more rather than the MC thinking/explaining.

    Overall interesting premise!

  4. I liked how you implied time traveling instead of just telling the reader. There is tension for the main character waiting, but as a reader, I wasn't drawn in because I didn't know the stakes, why what she was doing was so important. I needed a little more background / character information.

  5. The word choice is interesting, but I agree it leaves the reader wondering about the era. Perhaps she is from the past, but has traveled to the present. I personally like the dog bawling. It sets the tone. However, I want to know where she is or why she is there, even in this short snippet. I know it's hard to judge with 250 words, especially when a writer is trying to build a world.

  6. I was surprised how well you managed to establish a time travelling setting without ever saying so. Still, the beginning could be a little clearer on when they came from. I think the past, but it's not entirely clear.

    Also, the name in the title is quite a mouthful. ;-)

  7. Including book-specific terms in your title can work, but can also be risky. As your reader, not knowing what a “Saerlaith” is puts me at a distance from the story before I start it.

    I like the time traveler angle, but am otherwise unsure where this is going. It’s difficult to pin down who Lace is, as her feelings are described in a very vague, distant way. Beyond that, make sure any unusual word choices or phrasings really add something to your story – since I wasn’t fully on board with Lace’s character or the world you were describing just yet, the unconventional descriptive elements didn’t quite resonate with me.

  8. I like Lace and her irritation and needing to hurry but I'm a bit confused by the set up. The marks on her arm and her looking inside and by the end I feel like we're going to be thrown into a flashback. I'd suggest setting up the moment and perhaps even starting at the phrase "Dark as blood" because that really intrigues me. I'd say streamline a bit more and just set up where she is and her being irritated and perhaps add in a character to ramp that up as well.

    Good luck!