Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Secret Agent Contest #49

TITLE: Mimic
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Getting past the Protector was all a matter of timing. The time of day, first of all. Dusk, after most of the sunlight was gone but before the torches were lit. Then the trick was to slip by at the exact moment someone else was passing through the gate, while the Protector was occupied with drawing blood from the next one in line.

The form was also crucial. Issa had gotten through a few times in the guise of a small child, so short that the Protector never saw her as she toddled in the wake of someone’s billowing cloak. The stubby legs, though, made it harder to move quickly. She couldn’t afford to stumble and be caught. Last time had been too close.

The other likely choice was taking on a limber body that could scale the wall in the space of a single breath. Issa hadn’t dared that before. She’d practiced leaping the lower walls at the edges of the Den for the past month, and Yeril swore her swift movement was hardly visible if he wasn’t watching closely. She almost believed him.

She’d already wondered and worried too long, resolving every evening that this would be the night, only to lose her nerve and slink back from the wall. Tomorrow most of the farmers would pack what remained of their wares and leave the city. Then her chance would be gone for another season.
It was already nearly sunset. “Now,” she whispered, pulling on the black, threadbare tunic and tugging out its wrinkles. “Do it now.”


  1. This is interesting! I like how seamlessly you bring your protagonist's shapeshifting into the story. I was fascinated to think of her changing into a toddler to avoid this mysterious blood-drawing Protector.

    The only thing that confused me was why she would try leaping over the wall. If she's been successful as a toddler before, why not keep doing that? You mention last time being too close, but I couldn't understand how a person jumping over a wall would be less conspicuous. How tall are these walls? They have to be short if she can leap over them, but in that case, why not just jump over the wall somewhere else, further away from the Protector? As a toddler she's limited by the gate, but as a cat burglar type she wouldn't be.

    Overall, though, this is great! I want to know more. I also like your title.

  2. Nice use of tension and characterization, your early lines held my attention and had me asking questions. Curious questions. I'm very curious. Good luck!

  3. I really liked this opening! You inject a lot of detail, that raises questions. Who is the protector, and why does this individual need blood? Why does the main character want to get over the wall? I also really enjoyed the shapeshifting abilities--that is a unique power for a main character to wield! I like the introduction of Yeril as well...even with that short intro, I immediately think of him as an aspiring love interest or someone else who try to would flatter her. I'm excited for the next scene--I hope we get to see her change!

  4. I love the first few lines. Very strong, but then it descends into backstory. I don't know that we're hooked enough yet to the point where backstory is something we as readers need. Perhaps move from the first graf to "Nearly sunset" to "Tomorrow most of the farmers...." Then show us the attempt, and her inner monolog about it, working in as needed her previous tries. And maybe in such a way that the writing hides the critical bit of info a few more lines. "A small child could slip through, so short that the Protector fails to see her toddling in the wake of someone’s billowing cloak. She'd learned that stubby legs, though, made it harder to move quickly. Stumble, and be caught. Last time had been too close."

  5. Great opening! I love the first sentence and I also like the mysterious sense that there's something going on here I don't yet know about.

    I agree with some of the others that there could stand to be a bit more action here, instead of only exposition. The hint that the MC is wearing a tunic is a nice detail but doesn't quite give me enough to visualize the scene.

    Good luck!

  6. Good start! I'm intrigued with the setup; I hope the rest of the scene gives a little more insight into Issa as a character, but I'm happy enough with this in medias res opening that I'd keep reading.

  7. This is a really great opening. I love how you just plop the reader into Issa’s world, it’s a testament to how well you know it that I wasn’t confused about where I was and why. I think one of the other comments mentioned wondering why Issa wouldn’t go back to tryin to change into a toddler again and I had the same thought as well as what, exactly, had made those attempts unsuccessful? I have a feeling that these questions will be answered soon though. Great work.