Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #1

TITLE: A Golden Storm
GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Eight hours ago, when Nicco slammed my locker shut and told me we had plans tonight, I said what I always say―I’m in―because the best way to make sure Nicco doesn’t do something too crazy is to be with him. Usually it works. Every now and then though, he gets an idea in his head and nothing will break him free from it until he does what he wants.

This evening’s party is starting to look like one of those times.

Nicco leans out over the second-story balcony as far as he can. Below us other kids stand around a pool, beers in hand and eyes on us. Well, maybe not us. On Nicco.

“I’ll make it to the water,” he says, eyeing the drop. “It’s not a big jump.”

“Come on,” I say, a few feet behind him. The two girls he’d been flirting with earlier whisper to each other, before one lifts her phone, making sure Nicco is framed perfectly by her camera.

“Have another drink and leave it,” I say, bargaining. That’s always the first step when Nicco gets like this. Bargain first, argue second, get physical third.

“It’ll be easy.” His eyes widen as he stares down at the pool and the challenge I know he’s contemplating. He’s probably imagining it―the drop down and all the eyes that would be on him as he fell.

“And if you get hurt?” I say, because that’s all I’m really worried about anyway.

“Well, at least there’s a healer here,” Nicco answers, pointing.



  1. The first sentence is on the long side, and the writing is not as crisp as it could be to hold my interest. The concept is good, but the execution needs tightened by eliminating extraneous words and phrases.

  2. I'd suggest cutting pargs. 1 and 2. These pargs are the writer preparing the reader for the story. Just start the story with parg 3. That way, you start with immediate action and you may get the inciting incident on page one, which leaves the reader looking for more.

    You might also build the scene more with some description. Are they at someone's house, a hotel or resort? And maybe someone could speak to your MC so we know who 'I' is, or if they're male or female.

  3. I really like how you get a quick insight into Nicco's character :) it seems like he wants to be the center of attention while his friend doesn't. What a great foil.

    I also agree the first sentence should be shortened, but other than that, awesome job! :)

  4. I agree with Barbara. Cut. Start with Nicco. The reader is grounded and knows where we are and that Nicco is a daredevil. Nicco and the MC are together and all the others are below.

  5. I liked your opening, it sounded like the lead in to a cool adventure...then I was disappointed that it only lead to showing off at a party.

    I guess if you started with the 3rd paragraph right in the scene I wouldn't have had time to imagine something else and then recalibrate.

    I do find your MC an interesting character and its interesting seeing Nicco through his (her?) eyes.

  6. While I like the above suggestions on starting with the action of the third paragraph, I'd be wary of starting the story talking about Nicco. It makes him seem like the MC. So maybe just rearrange, don’t cut the first two graphs. I like how they ground us in the MC's head. And do think they need to be in the story.

    I also think the MC and Nicco balance each other out well. That dynamic, of the show off and the level-headed one befriending each other and balancing one another out, is well done. So good characterization there.

    Overall, I enjoyed this. I'm a sucker for YA contemporary fantasy, and love the idea of fool-hearted teens showing off a party with magical powers abound. I'm in. I would read on!

  7. I agree with all the other comments. Some of those earlier paragraphs can definitely be tightened. I like the tiny bit of worldbuilding at the end. "Healer," tells us that there's magic in this world.

  8. I love that you’re starting with action, but given the intensity of this moment, I’m surprised that there isn’t a sense of panic, fear, adrenaline. I mean, this kid could actually die. At least the reader would assume that he could actually die, and presumably other people at the party would think he might die or at least be seriously injured (i.e., the girls standing back ready to film his stupidity). I might consider playing around with a version where there’s a bit more sense of panic/danger, and then we end with a curveball surprise—oh she’s a healer? Interesting! What does that mean? I want to keep reading… With this current setup, a “healer” doesn’t seem to be particularly exceptional. Is she at all worried that the girls watching them will hear him say this? Is it just common knowledge that she fixes Nicco up every time he acts like an idiot?
    “Eight hours ago” isn’t a very strong beginning. I go back and forth on whether I would just start with Nicco leans out the window… because the tone of “this evening’s party is looking like one of those times” is a hair on the blasĂ© side… but it just depends on what you’re trying to make the reader feel. Is our MC more annoyed than anything because she let herself get talked into these stupid shenanigans yet again? In that case, it’s find to just started with “Nicco slammed my locker shut.” (Whatever you decide, cut eight hours ago and tighten this paragraph.) But overall, I think it might be worth just thinking a bit more about what you really want the reader to feel in this moment.

  9. This definitely reads more like a contemporary until a fantasy, at least until that 'healer' is mentioned. I'm also not a personal fan of first-person present, but that's my preference. Would love some more information on this Nicco, though... and why he needs to be watched.

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