Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #8

TITLE: Time and the Trains
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Unbeknownst to the rioters in the city, the man in the Cogsmith’s tower was a cyborg.  It wasn’t obvious; only a few little screws showed through his chained wrists, tapping tiny music on the manacles, and a steel rib gleamed through the side of his tattered suit jacket.

It was very quiet in the tower, but down in the city it was not.  Over the usual clatter of the trains, one could hear fire chewing up buildings, homemade weapons clattering, and peasants screaming anarchist songs.

The door to the tower opened, and an aged man with a beard and a trench coat walked in.  He strolled to the window opposite the prisoner and looked out over the tower yard with an appropriately proprietary air.

He continued to stand at the window until the cyborg said, “You do realize they’ll never allow you to escape the city?”

“Yep,” said the man.

“Good.  Just checking,” said the prisoner, settling himself against the wall.

“I forget - how long have you been here?” the lordly man asked.

“In this time, or this tower?”


“Four days.”

The man – most called him the Cogsmith – nodded and sized up the cyborg.  He was extraordinarily long-limbed and gangly; his dilapidated suit matched the shaggy black hair of his piecemeal scalp.  He had the soot-black blood of the trains all over his jacket.


  1. This is an intriguing premise. I love the description of the cyborg, and "the soot-black blood of the trains" is fabulous. I'm a little vague on POV. It sounds a bit like an omniscient narrator in a prologue, so I'm not sure who I'm supposed to connect with emotionally at this point. But I'm definitely intrigued about who these people are, why the city's on fire, why they're fighting outside, and would keep reading to see what's going on!

  2. This sounds like it's gonna be a cool read!

    Ok, so the first two paragraphs feel disjointed because the focus is on two completely different things. Really, that second paragraph is the only one out of place-- so you could start with the second paragraph, showing the riot, then go into "Unbeknownst to the rioters..." And right there you're connecting those two descriptions into a cohesive scene!

    There is the other option of (I hate to say it, but...) starting the story in a different place. We don't know these characters yet, and there aren't enough details to allow us to really get on board with them, emotionally. You give backstory in their conversation, which would be a lot more interesting with a little more set up and with it being shown rather than told.

    Good luck!

  3. It's incredibly hard to pull off an omniscient pov in a magnetic way. For me, there's no character to latch on to here, and here, I feel a bit lost as to the conflict in the story.

    There are some great descriptions and the mood is consistent, but I'm just not drawn in to this opening.

    Thank you so much for sharing!