Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January Secret Agent #7

TITLE: Overshadowed

Tayel hurried through the undercity smog, her gas mask rattling with every breath. She clamped down on the filter cartridge, but the centimeter-wide hole in the tubing still hissed as she inhaled. Stupid thing. Pollution burned the back of her throat. She coughed, and Jace – huffing and puffing - sped up to reach her side. He grabbed the loose fabric of her jacket and pulled her forward. Together, they rounded the corner where the neon sign over the grocer’s mart flickered, dispersing light through the haze. One more block to Otto’s.

Pick up the pace.

Bustling city denizens fresh off the after-work tram slowed them on the main street. The cacophony of rasping gas masks drowned out Tayel’s pounding pulse. Nothing mattered more than the hope of fresh air. Fresh air, and safety. Jace lost hold of her jacket as they squeezed through the dense crowd toward their destination. Two more stores down – and there it was. Neon tubing spelled out “OTTO’s” in crooked letters above the shop, washing Tayel’s arm in green light as she reached for the door. She pushed inside, holding it open only long enough for Jace to rush in after her.

Tayel steadied herself while the airlock triggered. She tore off the mask, freeing her dull red hair to fall in sticky waves around her face. Against the opposite wall, Jace removed his own mask and smoothed his ruffled head feathers down with his talons. She eyed him for injuries.


  1. Really good start in my opinion. It was intense and I could feel the pressure of the crowds and pollution. My only thought is that maybe you don't need the sentence about nothing mattering except fresh air and safety. You've established that already with what's happening in my opinion and that slows down the action. Overall though, this is a great start to the book.

  2. Great premise and the last paragraph really grabbed me! I'm not sure the line: pick up the pace needs to be in italics. Also, you capitalize OTTO but the "s" isn't. Also, I think drown might work better than drowned. You might want to rethink Jace's name since this name is the main love interest in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instrument series. I'd read more! Good luck!

  3. Great start! I especially liked the faulty tubing in the first paragraph. I tripped a tiny bit on this section: "Bustling city denizens fresh off the after-work tram slowed them on the main street. The cacophony of rasping gas masks..." I think you could simplify the description a little there. Otherwise, good luck with this!

  4. That last paragraph really surprised me about Jace with the feathers and talons and I would definitely want to read on. I don't have anything useful to add here because I honestly liked this piece. I guess the only thing I could offer is that I disagree with the comment about the sentence: Bustling city denizens... it was an unusual phrase but I don't think it needs simplifying. As for the extra sentence about the fresh air and safety...I like the poetic truth of it. Good luck!

  5. Intense, fast paced beginning. "Pollution burned". Good, unusual sensory image. This tells a lot about your world, as does Tayel's quest for breathable air.

    Words like "denizens" and "cacophony" are really cool words but they don't belong in a face-paced opening scene. They tear the readers right out of the story as we pause to decide if we know what those words mean and how to pronounce them. Save words like that for a bit of exposition later, after you've establish your characters and we're hooked on your story.

    You may want to think about changing the name of your character Jace. That's also the name of one of the MC in City of Bones, and the other MC has red hair! Just an idea - I do like the name! And I'm really interested that that he's part or all bird!!!

    Great beginning. Would love to read more.

  6. It’s great that we get world-building right from the first line, which is so important in sci-fi. It’s interesting that you have a race of bird-like people with talons and feathers. It’s a nice break from the green-skinned Roswell aliens we’ve seen done too many times! Just a note: YA sci-fi is a tough market, so make sure that your story is something we haven’t seen before as it continues on.

  7. Hi all, author here. Just wanted to say thank you for the great feedback! :)