Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #40

GENRE: YA Fantasy

My magic burned within me. I pressed a hand tight against my chest to calm its nettling.

It was a perfect day for wishing a young witch-in-training farewell—and I intended to keep it that way.

I took in great gulps of air and blew out, imagining I was extinguishing a candle—a method taught to me by Madam Ben Ammar. The stubborn flame retaliated, scorching my throat and causing a dark cloud to hover above the crowd before us.

Papa’s hand on my shoulder helped tear my eyes from the sky. His eyes, warm but narrowed with concern, were the same shade of blue.

“Do you want to leave?” he asked in my ear.

I shook my head, my fingers curled tight against the edges of my book. The milkman raised a fiddle into the air, garnering whoops and hollers. As he started up a jumping, lilting reel, the crowd reformed in perfect synchronicity in two neat lines for dancing.

Distraction is often useful in tempering one’s magic, Master Saint-Pierre had often told me.

I pressed the spellbook into Papa’s grasp. “I’ll see you soon.”

His freckled brow lined, and his gaze darted from me to the dancers. “If—if you say so, dear.”

His worry over me cut like my magic did. But I was happy; defiantly so, utterly content; my painful, rowdy magic aside. And I was going to prove it.


  1. I LOVE Your imagery!
    The only part I'm confused about (and had to re-read a few times) is that is she breathing fire over a crowd? Like is this a normal thing and no one is upset? Maybe if I knew more like, are they used to magic or just used to her? And she's saying goodbye, but she's happy, but does she sympathize? Perhaps a little internal dialogue about "He doesn't have magic so he doesn't understand?" or "Even though he loves me, my magic has always made him nervous." Something along those lines? Also, I feel like leaving her spellbook with him is a major trust factor, so again you could add "Even though he can't read a word in it, I know he'll keep my books safe"

    OVERALL though very well done! I'd definitely want to read more!

  2. I really like how we are introduced to the magic already in the first sentence, and how it doesn't seem like the best experience for her, which makes it even more interesting. I also love how her different teachers are introduced, showing that she's had some sort of education/mentoring of magic!

    I'm picturing them standing on a scene though, showing magic to the crowd, but I'm a bit confused about the "milkman". Who is he? Why is he there? And the fact that she gives her spellbook to her father, does that mean she doesn't need the spellbook to practice her magic?

  3. There's beautiful sensory imagery in here and I love that. The lilting reel, whoops and hollers, dark hovering clouds, and burning magic. It draws me in. But I'm also a little confused about what exactly is going on. She's at some public event, and trying to stifle her magic from swelling within her and out of her I'm guessing, not wanting to ruin anything? Does she need to keep her magic hidden? And who is the milkman? And why does she leave? Where is she going? Is she going to dance to prove she is happy? Is she leaving all together?

    I'm not sure what the answers to these questions are, but I DO want to read more, so nicely done on that!

  4. I love this opening.

    Just a few super nit picky things because this is very strong as is: How was the day perfect? Weather? You could tuck in a tiny bit of worldbuilding here.

    The milkman, by himself was strange for me, maybe you could explain his role with a word or two—The milkman, leader of this year’s ceremony, raised...

    The opening sentence, how does the fire burn? I think you can set us up with a great image for ex. burned within me, golden flames licking past my lips

  5. Your imagery is to die for! I could only dream of writing that beautifully. I like how the magic was like a flame. She was trying to extinguish it but it burned on. It was interesting to hear how she felt when the magic stirred within her. I don't think I've read a story where magic was described with that kind of feeling before. Very cool.

    My only note is that the milkman feels kind of random. Maybe throw in some other townspeople to better paint the image of a town celebration?

    Great job!

  6. Right away I can tell I'm going to fall in love with this character. Even with the few sentences I got to read, I loved her view of the world. Her brimming magic and her inner pep talk left me intrigued. I fully expect her to have quite the roller coaster ride for a growth arc!

    "The stubborn flame retaliated, scorching my throat and causing a dark cloud to hover above the crowd before us."-- I find this sentence confusing, and maybe you could clear it up in the paragraph, because I'm imagining she's breathing the way she is to calm down her magic. But this sentence makes it seem like she's quite literally blown a cloud over the crowd. So it's not very clear for me if it's one way or the other.

    So far the voice is pretty, so I'd keep on reading to see what this is all about!

  7. "I took in great gulps of air and blew out, imagining I was extinguishing a candle—a method taught to me by Madam Ben Ammar. The stubborn flame retaliated, scorching my throat and causing a dark cloud to hover above the crowd before us."

    This paragraph confused me because I thought she was only imagining a flame but then, the flame is real and burns her? And where does the dark cloud come from? Is she trying to control the weather?

    I liked hearing what her different teachers said to her, and I think overall its a very intriguing portrayal of magic so far.

  8. I love your opening and bringing us right into the world. Can you give me more about how the magic burns? Like burning in pain or burning with a desire to burst out? The magic is like the flame burning within her, and I get she's trying to control it, but the perfect day line disrupts this flow for me a little. Maybe combine the blowing the candle part with the opening lines.

    After that, describe more about how it's a perfect day - is it the atmosphere, the sky, the scents, the colors? :)

  9. I really love the imagery and the action you give us from the very beginning. Also the first person narration - I'm already lured in by her voice and want to continue hearing (well, reading) what she has to say. You do an excellent job of introducing the magic and little bits of the setting - I'm imagining a small town, not modern, and magic accepted by everyone. This is valuable information that you deliver in a seamless manner. And best of all, you show us how the MC is different from other characters - her magic doesn't really seem to be controlled, despite different teachers - and give her a goal. I'd follow her wherever she goes. Great opening 250.

  10. I love how much of the world we get in just the first 250 words, and how much the MCs magic says about her as a character. You do a great job of showing instead of telling, and I'm definitely intrigued to know more about what's going on in this scene!

    Super nit-picky, but I'd take out "often" in the italics because you use it later on the same line.

  11. Very nice scene! I’m incredibly confused about what’s happening, so I think it needs some polishing, but nonetheless I’m intrigued, which is ultimately the goal. I think the part that’s so confusing is “wishing a young witch farewell.” Is this a funeral-type goodbye? Is her sister witch graduating and leaving the nest? Is she actually mad about this departure and that’s why her magic is burning? We don’t have any idea what makes her magic burn.
    Dad asks if she wants to leave… and then she does actually leave, just not with him. It reads a little oddly.
    She certainly doesn’t seem happy, so I wasn’t sure if she was being sarcastic when she tells us she’s defiantly happy.

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