Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Secret Agent #8

Title: Laughter Magic
Genre: YA Fantasy

It's not every day you meet a boy who can read your mind.

The boy in front of me had floppy corkscrew curls and a slightly twisted smile to match. We sat facing each other, cross-legged in a circle in the middle of a clearing. The sun was bright and warm on my back and I looked deep into his eyes.

"Okay," Nauraa the master anchor called out, "take each other's hands."

A burst of embarrassed giggles came from several of the couples in our group. The boy in front of me gave an awkward grin and reached for my hands. His hands were warm and clammy and quite unremarkable

"Do you feel anything?" he whispered.

"No," I whispered back, "maybe we need to concentrate."

We both closed our eyes but after a moment I peeked and noticed he was peeking too. The sun on my neck was cooking me and i felt more awkward the longer we continued. I avoided his eyes, looking over his shoulder into the trees, then down at my lap. Doubly nervous because the next boy in line was our village leader's son Zach, who I'd been watching from afar since forever.

"I don't think this is working," we said almost together and then laughed as we made eye contact again.

From somewhere behind me I heard a gasp and somebody uttered a surprised, "Oh," as though they had just learned something remarkable.

Was that it? Was that what we were trying for?


  1. This excerpt intrigues me and makes me want to read on (especially the part where someone gasps—what just happened??). I like the writing, too, especially the sensory details.

    I do think you could lose the line about Zach. It doesn't seem like it's important to this scene unless Zach actually does something to interact with the viewpoint character, and it kind of threw me out of the action for a moment.

    There are a couple of typos: a missing period after "unremarkable" and a lowercase "i" in the 7th paragraph.

  2. I am definitely interested to know what is going on here because it sounds unique! I really like your first line! I did though wonder how the first line connected to the rest of the opening, because I didn't get the impression from reading it that whatever was supposed to happen between them was happening.

    I would suggest cutting "i felt more awkward the longer we continued" because you show the main character's awkwardness beautifully in the next line.

    Hope this helps! :)

  3. This scene did intrigue me, and I wanted to continue reading, but like Catherine, I also wondered how the first line connected to the rest of the opening. Also, I wasn’t sure how old the characters were.10? 12? 16?

  4. I like how well you set up a situation that is both serious to the group in general, and awkward to the main character on a personal level. I agree that the first line is not needed, though I'm not sure you should start with the boy, either. I would rework it so you start with the main character, maybe mention her sitting cross legged with the sun cooking her neck (great imagery), and then move into the description of the boy. I also was confused by the situation. You mention the other people being couples, but the main character and the boy seem to be strangers. Then you mention that there's another boy in line to sit across from her. Is he not part of a couple? Is this a mix of couples and single people trying to see whose mind they can read so they can become a couple? I'm intrigued by the questions, but I think a little more clarity would be good.

  5. An intriguing opening, and you did a nice job illustrating the awkwardness of our main character. And while you did a great job giving a tactile feeling of the setting, I had a hard time picturing where this takes place. Not that we need an exact map or a full description of the environment, but is the clearing in a meadow, a forest, a schoolyard? I get that this is probably unimportant to the scene and takes a back seat to the *feeling* of the setting, but a word or so would help orient the reader.

    I also have no idea what a "master anchor" is, but that might be intentional or simply the result of only having the first 250 words. On that note, I'm giving a qualified agreement to the comments about dropping your opening line: It's a great line, but I would lose it UNLESS said boy does his mind-reading in this opening chapter. If that's the case, I think it makes sense to keep it.

  6. Your first line piqued my interest! But the voice and the setting aren’t quite syncing up for me yet. Something about the opening lines puts me in mind of a group meditation/therapy class—it feels very modern real world—and yet other clues suggest a solidly fantasy setting, so I’m feeling a little off kilter.

    Some of the details seemed a touch redundant: we’re reminded that the MC and the boy are sitting facing each other, and the boy’s smile is mentioned twice, as is the sun on the MC’s neck. In lieu of these simpler observations, look for opportunities to infuse the scenes with more context and tension-raising clues to better understand what's happening here.

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