Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #28

TITLE: The Wind Walker
GENRE: Young Adult

Disasters should come with a warning-a bell ringing, a hint of brimstone-but nothing triggered my internal alarm while I cut across the dying lawns to the house. There was only the faint scent of burning leaves and our front door left wide open on a blustery, October day. That wasn't even unusual because Jemma often forgot things like doors and groceries. Self-preservation was not among my mother's gifts.

I climbed the wide porch steps singing with my iPod, the wind catching my hair, and the leather purse full of books bouncing against my hip. A stray leaf blew against the wicker chairs where Jemma and I sat with my stepfather on warm summer nights. For that moment, the illusion of a normal family she and I had woven was still intact, and then the smack of a fist and her broken cry unraveled it for good. The open doorway framed her as she fell.

Violence raised the hair on my arms, its dissonant hum as wrong as the black-edged anger in my stepfather's aura when he stepped toward her. I'd spent my life trying to be something sane and human, locking the power away inside myself for Jemma's sake. But it was always there, coiled and eager to be used.

My hand shot up. Power exploded along my nerves, and all six-feet-something
of ex-linebacker flew backwards across the room. I didn't touch him,
although I barely noticed that.


  1. I liked this, but at the same time the wordiness made it confusing to me.

    good luck with the SA!

  2. This writing is rich and descriptive. I was a little confused when I realized this young lady was calling her mother Jemma. I do like the last sentence in the first paragraph. I was a little uncertain about whether she stumbled into a violent act or if she was remembering a past event.

    Also, the violence of the stepfather. Sorry, but I'm not buying the portrayal. The "smack of a fist" sounds so antiseptic and diplomatic. If you watch someone hit your mother in the face and crumple her body to the floor, I don't think you recall the event as being like the "smack of a fist" or take the time to notice anyone's black-tinged aura. The audience for this may buy it, but not someone who grew up watching that sort of thing.

  3. Very interesting. I'm curious to know what kind of creature the main character is. Does she have a name?

    The first sentence of the third paragraph needs to be reworked a bit - I think shortier and snappier might be better: "The hair rose on my arms. I'd spent my life...". Just a thought.

    I agree that the writing is descriptive but at times can be a little wordy.

    Also try to avoid the use of most gerunds - all the "ing" words. I think it slows down the narrative.

    I would definitely read more. Good work.

  4. Too overwritten for me. As JKW said, it was too antiseptic. It's a violent act and if you want it to come across that way, you have to show it that way. It's written in the same style as her description of the leaves and weather and has little impact.

    And the first sentence of the third graph just made me go huh? Someone just beat her mother. You need short sentences that denote anger. You need real reactions. If someone hit your mother would you be thinking about how the hair on your arm reacted. It comes off as a scene a writer wrote, rather than a reaction from a real person.

  5. The writing is well-crafted and vivid throughout this piece. It's clear the main character has powers that we begin to see in this scene. I would love to read more to find out the extent of the powers behind the main character. The dynamic with the step-father is interesting.

    I disagree that the description of the violence in this scene isn't realistic. I think the "smack of a fist" evokes an auditory impression that is entirely believable.

  6. I agree with the comments on the wordiness, but there's definite potential here, especially once sentences are simplified. I like the power described in the last paragraph, and the reverse parent-child relationship. I'm curious to see how the power ties into the title.

  7. A little tightening, a few word choices to improve, but otherwise, I like your style of writing. I'd keep going.

  8. I felt like there was a lot of telling here, and almost too much description. I think you could tighten it up and have a better opening.

  9. Your choice of wording made this some-what difficult to read and a little confusing. It sounds like a paranormal story when you talk of the MC's 'power', which definitely makes me want to know more.

  10. I like that the MC and her mother try to make things look normal, which in itself tells us that things are NOT normal. Then everything is ruined forever with two sounds: a smack, followed by a cry. I like how you described the MC's struggle to contain her power, then finally releasing it. I want to know what that power is.

    If I was reading this first page in a bookstore, I'd definitely read on. I'm hooked.

  11. I thought this was a bit overwritten. The descriptions were well done and colorful, but they hindered my reading in places. Sometimes the sentences' complexity slowed me down. The power and its use seems interesting and the story definitely intrigues me.

  12. I like stories that start with something happening, and you've done a good job of setting up an interesting situation.

    Some things that pulled me out, tho: she singing along with her ipod, but is able to hear the smack of a fist? I think she'd have to be startled by something more visual, because if you're listening to music (and singing) it's not going to be so clear what any outside noise is.

    Like Barbara, I didn't really care for your third paragraph. I totally agree with what she said about showing us her reaction to this violence.

    But, like I said, the last paragraph hooked me and I would read on.

  13. I like the title and the last paragraph, but the rest was a little confusing.

    The writing style made me think this was going to be historical or traditional fantasy, but then you mention groceries and an iPod. This isn't necessarily a problem, it just meant I had to reevaluate the image I first had in my head.

    Using both Jemma and mother made me pause and go back to figure out this was the same person. Maybe just have the MC refer to her as mother for now, and then call her Jemma when they're actually speaking?

    Overall, this feels overwritten to me. Tighten it up, and I might want to keep reading.

  14. I like the writing, but I'd prefer to actually see her stepfather hit her mother. I think it would have more impact (no pun intended). As it reads at the moment, I had to go back and read it again to fully get what had happened. I like the paranormal elements though, and would read on to find out what happens next.

  15. It's clear the MC has special powers, but does the stepfather have powers too? Curious to read more to find out! Enjoyable read!

  16. Very wordy, but I'd keep reading a few pages to see what happens and how the plot unfolds.