Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #3

TITLE: Demi of Earth and Steel
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

My fingers tightened around the wooden post as I thrust the sign into the air, high over my head. The words on it proclaimed RESPECT EXISTENCE OR EXPECT RESISTENCE!

Around me, others also held signs or pumped their fists in the air, shouting, “No, no, we won’t go!” I chanted along with them.

Across from us, men in construction uniforms stood in a huddle, rubbing their heads and grumbling to each other. A line of heavy machinery was parked behind them, bulldozers and cranes ready to begin a project we wanted to put a stop to.

Three men in clean business suits also stood to the side, throwing us dirty glares. They looked so out of place here, outside of their fancy, luxurious offices. This park was several miles outside of the nearest urban area, in the rural part of Macon, Georgia. I was surprised these men were willing to get their polished dress shoes dirty. But anything for money, I guess.

They’d already tried yelling and threatening us through a megaphone, but we’d just kept on chanting louder, our cries mingling together into one massive voice that refused to be silenced.

Beside me, my homeboy Callian nudged my arm with his elbow. “Look, they weren’t bluffing.” He pointed to where police cars were pulling up beside the construction vehicles, their red and blue lights flashing in the afternoon sun, tires spewing dirt into the tepid air.

“S***,” I muttered, my heart starting to pound. “Think we’ll be arrested?”


  1. Strong start! You begin with a conflict that tells us something about the MC. I wanted to know a little more about what's about to be bulldozed/torn down and what would replace it. I think that context will help us get even more invested in what's happening right away. You could also pull in a few more sensory details like the vibrations and smell of the construction equipment.

  2. Good powerful opening. I already get a strong sense of the narrator's personality and her determination through her actions.

    I also think more sensory details about the site would be good-- are the bulldozers running? Can she hear the grumble of their motors? And maybe a hint of what's about to be destroyed would be good.

    I'm also curious about the fantasy element in this piece, but I assume that will become evident later.

    I would definitely keep reading to find out what happens and what they're protesting and whether they get arrested.

  3. "RESPECT EXISTENCE OR EXPECT RESISTENCE!" - Really smart use of words here, love this part :)

    I enjoy the in-media-res start; we have tension right away - we know that the main character is fighting, and we know (roughly) what they're fighting for. The belligerence is palpable and mounting.

    I'd personally like to see something a bit less black-and-white. Here, the businessmen are almost portrayed like mustache-twirling villains - caricatures of corporate greed, a bit too straightforward in their evilness. Perhaps that's how our protagonist views them. But in my opinion you can afford to be a bit more nuanced with an YA audience.

  4. I stumbled at "ready to begin a project we wanted to put a stop to". It didn't sound like something anyone would say / think. Does she even know what she's there for? Because she sounds like a rent-a-protester right now lol. She should be specific in her cause.

    I did like the play on words with the sign.

  5. I find this a little dizzying. In 250 words, she has looked at/described her fist, her sign, the people around her, the construction workers, the construction vehicles, the men in suits (including their shoes), her friend Callian and the police cars. The point of the opening is to ground the reader in the setting and the character, but this feels more like a drive-by at 100 miles an hour. I would suggest you focus on a couple things to describe rather than trying to fit in the whole scene so quickly.

    Good luck!