Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #6

TITLE: Amirah and the Red Scarf
GENRE: Adult Fantasy

The sweet aromas of freshly baked baklava and cinnamon buns swirled around Amirah and her grandmother as they stepped out of the bakery and into the chill evening air. Amirah's grandmother placed her hand on her elbow. Startled by the unexpected touch, Amirah turned to face her.

Shadow clouded her grandmother's face as she spoke. “Here, Scre,” she said, calling Amirah by her Serbian nickname, meaning “heart”. “You will need this tonight. ” She untied the red scarf from under her chin, gently removing it from her silver-colored hair.

Amirah looked down as her grandmother held it out to her, the red silk draped over the old woman's gnarled fingers. “What are you talking about, Baka? You’re coming with me.”

Shaking her head slowly, her grandmother looked up toward Amirah with deep brown eyes, a shade darker than Amirah’s. She sighed. “No, not tonight, Srce.”

Furrowing her brows, Amirah pressed, “But you always hunt with me?”

“I know,” she said and gave her a warm smile. “But you’re ready now. I’ve taught you everything I can. My eyes do not see as clear as they once did. I fear my presence during the hunt this year would only place you at great risk. You’re a woman now, Srce. You knew this day would come. Tonight, you must do this on your own.”

Her grandmother placed the scarf in Amirah's hands, forcing her fingers to close over the silky red fabric. A shiver of magic rippled through the scarf, tingling Amirah's hands.


  1. The hunt appears to be important to the story, have Amirah thinking about or preparing for it -- perhaps with her grandmother, only then to be surprised that she isn't going. When they leave the bakery is it to go on the hunt? Perhaps having them preparing inside the bakery with Amirah thinking and anticipating, only to be disappointed. I get the sense this is a red-riding hood story. If that's the case, you've done a great job of suggesting those ideas in just 250 words. I would shorten the grandmother's explanation about why she isn't coming and spend more time on why Amirah wants her there or expects or needs her there -- why would that cause her fear?

  2. Whoa, I really like this! With just the first line you give such a descriptive setting! One thing - I'd love to see the grandmother's name, just to personalize her a bit so she's not always "Amirah's grandmother". The idea of her about to go on a hunt was so exciting to me! And a little creepy haha. It's hard to portray the anticipation in such a small amount of words, but you did an amazing job!

  3. WOW, what a great end to the page. I want to read more. I have a strong feeling this is a retelling and I love it!!! very good start to set the mood. and it starts it the right place. okay now for the critique. 'shadow clouded her' I feel like it should be A shadow or shadows.
    great job

  4. This one made me hungry.

    There are some instances of distant POV that don't appeal to me. For example: “Here, Scre,” she said, calling Amirah by her Serbian nickname, meaning “heart”. <-- Amirah is the MC, and I can't imagine her thinking this in this moment. Instead, this is coming from the author, and that pulls me out of the scene and out of Amirah's shoes.

    Because I like a deep point of view, I'd love to see "grandma" instead of "her grandmother" to really put this into Amirah's voice.

    Story-wise, the magic that comes through the scarf feels generic in this description. From Amirah's point of view, this had to feel strange unless she knew it was magic already and had anticipated it. If she didn't know this was going to happen, how did she know it was magic, the feeling rippling through her?

    These instances distanced the POV for me.

    I do like the premise, though, and I feel that with a deeper POV, it could reel me in.

    Thank you for sharing!