Wednesday, November 4, 2009

6 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Last Mage
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Each step felt like wading through molasses. It was no surprise she’d already run out of breath while the Dark Magics pumped through Lusa at full force. With the danger night brought in this disgusting stink-hole of a swamp, she let them. Their voices became ambient noise, a constant hum. She sliced her blade across the first row of thick grass two feet above her head.

“Great.” A bunch more stood in her way. It was going to be a long night. She frowned at the dagger and snorted at her luck. The impulse to cast out a giant fire ball was hard to suppress. But fire wasn’t the only way.

“Windosa nu!” A gust of hot wind rushed past her. The magical tempest slammed into the wall of weeds. The roar muted the incessant chirping of insects and when the wind dispersed, all was quiet and the majority of the swamp grass mangled, bent and broken.

An icy tingle rose from her toes up to her torso, her powers palpitating madly. Her sweat had dried. Even the stench momentarily vanished. The night sky was as clear as the silence and she could now see over the long row of bent grass, walled-in by that untouched by her spell. Despite the Magics commanding her to move, she couldn’t ignore her instincts wanting her to stay. Her skin prickled at the thought of what lurked in there.

“Well, here goes nothing.” Smacking a bug on the back of her neck, she sighed and entered the swamp.


  1. I don’t understand the first paragraph at all. I don’t know if “she” and “Lusa” are the same person or not. I don’t know why grass comes in a “row” or why it’s two feet over her head (is she really short? Is she underground?), or why she’s out of breath if she hasn’t entered the swamp yet, or why she expects there to be only one “row” of grass, and is surprised to find a field full of it.
    The line “Great” makes your character seem petulant, which does not inspire me to be sympathetic. Then she conjures up a storm just so she won’t have to push her way through the field. The fact that she even thinks of burning the whole place down indicated that she’s REALLY spoiled.
    Sorry, not hooked at all.

  2. Sorta hooked. I like starting in the action and getting so many questions raised immediately (so I'd read on a bit to see if the answers interest me). But I think that after the wind blows down the grass (are we on a diff. planet or is she a faerie or some such?), you could have me firmly hooked by answering at least one question--thus letting me know I'll get answers to all the rest too if I read on.

    Otherwise, it might seem that you've built a world but will not be providing maps :-)

  3. Everything I read here leads me to believe she's in the swamp, then the last sentence tells me she's just entering it. Where was she until then? And why spend 250 words telling me she's getting ready to go in the swamp?

    And if she can use magic, why would she even consider slogging through the muck and manually cutting down the grass? Why not immediately start with magic? And the fact that she can, and does, use magic, negates your first two pargs. What was the point? It's like climbing a fence, and after you've gotten all mangled in the barbed wire at the top saying, "I guess I'll go down and walk through the gate.'

    Perhaps start with her actually in the swamp, and then tell us why, followed by an event/action. It doesn't have to be big or grand, but something should happen.

  4. I like that the story starts with action, but I did get very confused after that with the terms you used, the setting and the characters. Paragraph 4 in particular was very confusing and that's where you lost me because I really didn't understand what had just happened.

  5. I like that you started with some action, but like the other commenters, I am a bit confused about the setting...whether she is in the swamp or near the swamp and what the rows of grass look like, is she slicing through them 2 feet above her head or are they just growing to a height that is 2 feet above her head? I see potential here. The writing is compelling so I hope it evens out and the descriptions get more clear.

  6. I love stories like this. However, I think it could flow better if you introduced more action and less description of the setting. The line "disgusting stink-hole of a swamp" is perfect. That is really all the setting we need.

    Good luck!

  7. Thank you all! The confusion is clear to me now. I had started somewhere new, scratching the first half of the first chapter, and worried it may come off like this. Great suggestions though, there is action in the swamp on the next page so perhaps I should cut straight to that. Thank you all again for your comments!

  8. I like this, and I would definitely read more. Like others, the swamp thing kind of through me off as well, but I like your writing. Good Luck!

  9. I didn't have a problem with the setting or the terms, but then I write Fan and SciFi, so maybe I'm used to just taking things on faith with the understanding that the author will eventually make things clear.
    I like your MC's tone, and word choices that would resonate with a YA crowd. I would read on because I want to know... if she's carrying Dark Magic, is she good or bad!
    Nice start.

  10. I liked your intro and I wasn't very confused by the surroundings. Only the line about her powers around her torso confused me a bit. I'm unsure if the Dark Magics are using power on her or if she's just gearing up for action. Other than that, I enjoyed it and would read further on.

  11. I was a bit confused here. At the start I had the impression she'd already been wading through the swamp for some time, but by the end it seems as though she's just entering it. May want to make that clearer.

  12. The setting didn't bother me so much. I assume you'll paint it more clearly as needed.

    I did feel too distant from your character. I don't have enough to relate to "she."

  13. The first paragraph confused me. What or who are Dark Magics? Why is the grass two feet above her head? One confusing element is fine, after all this is fantasy. But it's hard when you have no idea what's going on.

    Like others, I was imagining her in the swamp but then in the last sentence you reveal she's outside the swamp. I can wait to find out about Dark Magics, but I want some idea of where she is so I can picture the scene.

  14. "wading through molasses" is a cliche. You're doing yourself a huge disservice using a cliche in your first line. Even changing it to "syrup" would be better. If you want to enhance the fantasy feel, could be "wading through Kalha'tha syrup." Something like that.

    Liked the voice very much, but not hooked.