Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #47

TITLE: Miranda's Fire

Miranda launched the second fireball a fraction of a second after the first, urging it to fly faster. She knew how improbable this trick was. She knew it because she had already attempted it--and failed--273 times today. And as many the day before.

As usual, her earphones blasted a hard rhythm. The music drowned out andom sounds from the estate and helped her focus. The magic inside her pulsed in time with the heavy bass.

Her mother said what she aimed to do was impossible, but Miranda had seen the explosions from two Fire Mage's flames colliding. If she could create that kind of force? No Mage would be able to defeat her in The Tournament. Fire Mages couldn't release two flames at once; that was impossible. But if anyone could accomplish this, Miranda knew it would be her. Her mother, the Psychic Mage, taught her about power, but her dad had taught her the real secret to winning --control.

The two flames raced to the stone wall. Based on her studies of The Tournament film archives, the pin-point centers needed to perfectly overlap a hair's breath from the target.

Not impossible, but near enough.

She squinted her eyes, trying to see how close she had come this time. In answer, a bone-jarring explosion blew her backwards, knocking out the breath she had been holding. She tucked into a ball and rode the shock-wave the forty feet to the far wall of the practice room, laughing as she tumbled.


  1. Short note from the author: The genre is YA urban fantasy. I had to re-send from my cell phone while on a bathroom break at work due to the error with the submission form and that somehow didn't make it through.

    Also, second paragraph. "andom" is "random." Somehow got cut off in the cell-phone version of the email.

  2. Hello Author,

    I can just picture a person in the work bathroom trying to send this from her (his?) work phone. :)

    The piece is well written and I think you've done a great job giving the read a lot of information about your protagonist (she throws fire, her mother's a psychic, she practices obsessively, she wants control) in a short space. The pacing is nice an controlled.

    Hooked. Good luck.

  3. Nice, tight writing, and good sense of the MC's personality, thanks to the details you've mixed in with the on-stage action. Good.

  4. It started out really cool, but then the explanation just went on too long for me. The third paragraph stops the story while you explain things to the reader. You might consider cutting it and getting that info in later. We don't need to know everything right away.

    You might also cut phrases like 'she knew' and 'as usual.' It's telling and takes the reader, (this one, anyway) out of the story.

  5. I really like it, but I thought that she was outside for the longest time until the very last paragraph. Maybe you could hint at that earlier? Or I could have just missed it, I'm not sure. Good job, I'd want to read more!

  6. I'm intrigued for sure. Though I do agree that the explanation is a bit long and could maybe be saved for a different time. But I really like what i have seen:)

  7. AHHHHHHH! I LOVE IT! This is what teens want: elemental magic, a cool, laid-back chick (sexy, even?), super tournaments, rivalries (none hinted, but it is very much implied) and perhaps a hot dude for her to like (I'm not a girl, but that seems popular these days :D).

    For the sake of my love for this, I won't even bother critiquing. I just want you to snag an agent, get this published and send me an autographed copy. I don't care if I'm a guy and the MC is a girl--to hell with stereotypes--I want more!

    Hooked, lined and in love with Miranda (and the author who sends work in the bathroom)!

  8. Although this not what I would usually choose to read there are some things I really liked about this.

    Love her listening to music and the magic in her pulsing to the beat of the bass. It caused me to be completely in your MC's skin at that moment. I also love your last para with her laughing as she tumbled.

    I did stumble at the precise count of her attempts. No teens I know would have the focus to keep track of failed attempts for that long. If they were really driven they may keep practicing that long, but they would have given up on the counting. Perhaps your MC is the kind that would be focused enough to want the exact number of tries before she finally succeeded. Just something to consider.

  9. I loved how she was listening to music to help her shoot fireballs better - the paranormal equivalent of listening to music at the gym.

    But I do agree with Barbara that the third paragraph takes us out of the story. I would cut it and weave the backstory in later. Also, I think hair's breath should be hair's breadth. (Completely understand if typo is because of phone issues!) Finally, I thought she was outside too. Can you put in a slight hint of setting in the first or second paragraphs?

    I should add that I liked the writing as well. Good job.

  10. I love your idea, and I like your scene idea. However, there's just too much explaining. How in the world to show us the scene so we know what's going on without all the explaining...well...that's the trick!

    Think carefully about how much of this information is really needed NOW. The tournament information can probably be saved for after she succeeds. A lot of the mage explanations can probably be saved for later, too. Not sure what else. But ground us in this scene only, and don't worry yet about explaining what's to come. Then it'll be fantastic opening. You end it with your hook for the tournament (or whatever comes next) to keep us reading at the end of THIS scene.

    Hope this helps! Good luck!

  11. The last paragraph is terrific writing of action. I like the phrase "rode the shock wave." That's cool.
    The second paragraph is awkward, the bit about the estate, and the bit about the headphones is jarring, too. I'm thinking someone in a life-or-death situation wouldn't wear headphones. Too distracting? There's some nice fantasy jargon here: Fire Mage. That's cool. Lets us know you've got a whole world cooked up for us.

  12. It seems I'm the odd woman out on this one, because I just didn't connect with this piece. For me, the writing felt clunky, the action was difficult to picture within the scene, and the mention of the Fire Mages confused rather than piqued my interest. If I had received this in my query inbox, I probably wouldn't have read further; I'm just not seeing any elements here that are extraordinary enough to make me keep reading. Sorry about that, and I certainly hope another agent feels differently!

  13. This has a lot of great potential! I love the character, like the idea of the Fire Mages, like the tension and interest set up just in this tiny snippet, and LOVE the bit about "magic pulsing in time". Oh yeah. :)

    My suggestions for improvement would be to get rid of passive voice. There's a lot of telling in this piece: showing would bring it to life. Also, some of the punctuation is confusing... there's sentence fragments that are jarring.

    Just a few suggestions. You've got something good here!

  14. Hey, I really liked this (sorry I'm commenting late!)

    I would take out the third paragraph and put it somewhere else, so the pace doesn't slow. And put that bit about her studies in another place too. You could easily just focus that sentence on the pin-point centers and keep the pace going.

    This was truly cool. I can see her beating out that rhythm as she practices. In fact, I can see this movie style. Tyson is right, the protag here might be female, but this would appeal to the guys, too.

    I hope another agent picks this up.

  15. I like it with the fantasy world set up, but I was also confused. The colliding fireballs and Fire Mages was confusing, enough to make me stop, reread, think, reread, and still not understand. I would say, make it clear earlier that she is throwing 2 fireballs and is trying to get them to collide, no fancy wording. The descriptions about the Fire Mages and archives are a little too much so early. Try to write the sentences a bit clearer, saying exactly what is happening, this will keep the reader from becoming confused.