Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #1

TITLE: the magic withheld
GENRE: urban fantasy

The earthquake wasn't his fault, not this time.

But Justus Aubre was guilty of laughing. To see the humor in any situation is a human failing. And he was mostly human.

Under the streetlights, in the darkened parking lot, several people from the concert had cell phones in their hands. He hoped they were calling the cops and he could melt into the crowd without attracting attention. But with the mugger looking at him with murder in his eye, fighting seemed the only option.

His grin widened. It had been a long time since his last fight. But in the next instant, Justus sobered.

Laughing at the wrong time kept getting him into the biggest messes. But in this case, the guy seemed unduly pissed about it. As far as the thug knew, Justus had only laughed after watching him do the concrete face plant.

Since the man was human, he couldn't have known about the wrap of magic that had tangled his feet as if someone tied his shoestrings together. When Justus heard the feeble cry, he turned and saw a shadowy figure pull a wristwatch from an old man and then shove him to the ground. Without thinking, Justus gathered the surrounding energy and flicked the invisible magic with his fingers. Air twisted around the mugger's legs and another gust blew him off balance. The man's wheeling arms clutched for something to grab but there was nothing except conjured air and it was slippery in the best way.


  1. I really enjoyed the pictures this scene lit in my mind. I could see Justus and hear his confidence / self-awareness very well. And I could also see the ticked off guy clearly.

    Passive voice tripped me up the most. I felt like I couldn't quite get into the story because the action and story seemed dotted with mental stop signs.

    I believe Justus has the makings of a great voice -- and that's what an awesome book needs.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. The opening lines are impressive. As the story continues, though, it seems to get a little bogged down in too much detail. Great concept, but show more action, and quicker.

    And Justus Aubre is a great name.

  3. Somewhat hooked.

    I like the first line and the concept, but there is a little too much explaining instead of straight story telling.

  4. I liked the opening line, but didn't see it developed in the rest of the piece. It seems to jump from an earthquake to a post-concert crowd under the streetlights.

    Clarify this and you'll have something interesting.

  5. It's close. Like the others, the beginning really pulls me in, then I get a bit confused.I'd like a little more excitement in the tone, because we are dealing with earthquakes and muggers. Even if Justus isn't entirely human he might get a little more excited, but then again, maybe not. But I'd keep reading to see.

  6. I agree with the others. It's a great opening, but the rest of the piece is passive. Is the earthquake real or a metaphor?

    This whole thing could be livened up simply by putting the last paragraph in real time. Show the mugging as it happens, not ater the fact. Try to keep as much of the story as possible in real time, and as little as possible in backstory.

  7. Great opening line and I think you’ve nailed the UF voice, and get across right away that the main character isn’t completely human. But I read the last two paragraphs three times and I’m still not sure what’s going on. Concrete face plant? Did the mugger fall down? And then there’s a shadowy figure and an old man who gets pushed down? It’s unclear whether the mugger has done the pushing or someone else. Maybe this is cleared up in the next couple of paragraphs, but as is I’m having trouble figuring out what’s going on. If you clarified this scene I could see myself wanting to read more.

  8. That opening sentence grabbed me then, you never revisited the earthquake again. I got lost in this short span jumping back and forth in time. Tighten this up by keeping the order simpler, then you'd definitely get me hooked.

  9. The 'mostly human' line got me in the second paragraph.

    I also love the description of Justus flicking his magic around the mugger's legs and causing him to do a 'concrete face plant.'

    However, I think the last two paragraphs would be more powerful if you rearranged them so that the events were sequential. Currently, we learn of this incident in reverse order: the faceplant first, then the wrap of magic, then the theft, and then back to the magical tripping of the thief. It interrupts the flow of the imagery and robs a very visual scene of its power.

    I like this opening - a little sentence shuffling will make it that much better.

  10. I like the opening line. It grabbed me and made me curious about someone who *could* be responsible for earthquakes.

    I'd like to see the action of that first time Justus uses his magic to trip the mugger rather than getting told it in past tense. That, or like roh morgan suggests above, have the details given in the time order they occurred.

    Be careful of contradicting statements, like "he hoped...he could melt away into the crowd...but...fighting seemed his only option." Maybe "he wished" instead of "he hoped"?