Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #32

TITLE: The White Phoenix
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Silas Wolfe was used to women staring at him. He did, after all, have a reputation as the town skirt-chaser.

But he didn't think that was any excuse for a woman who was blind.

He stared back. He never stared back, but how could he possibly help himself?

Her eyes white and gleaming, she stood frozen mere feet away from him, whereas the market was very much alive around them. He heard the shouts of gold-toothed merchants as they beckoned customers to their stalls, the laughter of the children winding down the crowded avenues, and the festive music that tied it all together. The air was warm with the scent of freshly-baked bread, an aroma rivaled only by that of the tavern nearby. Patterned cloths and the finest of furs dangled from the awnings, while more practical wares like fruits and herbs lined the streets in woven baskets.

Silas ducked his head and swiftly moved to the next stall, embarrassed to have been openly gawking at her like that. Still, he couldn't shake the feeling of her colorless eyes upon him.

He snuck a peek at her again

She was still staring.

His skin chilled all too suddenly. She couldn't be blind. The sun had caught her eyes at an odd angle. That was all.

The countless scars across her eyelids told him it was just wishful thinking on his part.


  1. Excellent writing. I'd want to read more!

  2. I don't have a good sense of the time and place. The setting isn't clear. I'm not hooked, but might be if I had the opportunity to read more.

  3. Sorry, but I just don't get the second line at all. Excuse for what? Her staring at him? If he's known for being a skirt-chaser, why would he mind her looking at him - especially if he thinks she can't see him? And why does he immediately thinks she is blind and then change his mind? And the very last line about wishful thinking? I'm sorry, but I don't understand that one either. I just don't have a enough clarity on his way of thinking/motivations. etc.

    Far from hooked, I'm confused. Mea Culpa?

  4. The first two lines are really intriguing! The shift to setting is abrubt, but not bad. I think that I'd go with action--he ducks into a market stall--and then description--hoping to escape her gaze in the throng etc. But that's just me. I do like it--the blind woman staring at him. I'd like to know, is it just her staring that makes him stare back, or is it something else about her?

  5. I agree that the "that's no excuse" line is a little confusing. I think it just needs to be shown that he's used to being stared at but a blind woman's eyes following him is disconcerting. Especially if she's standing still to look at him while other patrons push past her.

  6. This is an intriguing opening, but I think it could be tightened up considerably. The weight of the blind woman's gaze needs to be given more impact. Silas is used to being stared at, so this isn't new to him. Also the description of the market slows things down a lot without giving us a clear idea of time and place. Maybe use the market's objects as places for Silas to hide or obscure himself from the sightless eyes, give them a reason to be there.

  7. I like this but I think you can weave more action into the description and also more clues to the time and place (eg strange Moroccan vegetables or whatever), I feel a bit lost. Most of it feels medieval or something, but 'skirt-chaser' sounds modern, so I'm confused.

    Also, if she's blind, why does he think she's staring at him? Wouldn't he *think* she's staring at him then realise that she's blind so she can't be and just conclude she's lost or listening to something?

    Despite all this I'm definitely intrigued and I'd still read on.

  8. Several people have said what I wanted to say so I won't repeat it. I would just like to add one thing. Silas reads to me as an adult, and it's a woman staring at him but this is a YA novel. Is he actually a teen and I'm reading it wrong?

  9. I like what you are implying here, how disconcerting it would be to have a blind person staring at you, wondering if they were actually staring at you or not, but you're not quite conveying it.

    The second parg just doesn't make sense.

    The fourth parg is all about the marketplace. Here is a man thrown aback by a blind woman staring at him, then he suddenly notices the marketplace and everything going on in it? If he's intrugued by the woman, you need to stay with the woman.

    You can get the scenery in as he manouvers around the market place trying to figure out if she is really staring or not.

    Try to make the writing more precise so it says exactly what you mean.

  10. Not really grabbing me as the pacing seems to be off - this could be much sharper and more dramatic. And (maybe it's only me) but if he's seeing her colorless eyes, how can he see scars across her eyelids?

  11. I like the voice but I agree the setting could be clearer. There's room in the description of the market to assist in world building. Maybe you've got all that answered at say 300 words though. At this point I have to ask is magic part of this world? Other than world building I think you're off to a good start. I like your character, he's incorrigible.

  12. I like the idea - Wolfe being stared at by a blind woman - it's definitely creepy. Unfortunately, I think the pacing is off and the contrast of stillness and bustle doesn't come through as effectively as it could.

    There's a better way to demonstrate the juxtaposition of the stillness of this woman w/ the merriment of the market. You could say "she stood frozen mere feet away from him, the sole still person in the market alive around them" or something to that effect, but the "whereas" is not effective.

    Lastly, I take issue with characters in denial. It takes me right out of the story when a character denies an obvious, and already asserted, condition as a trick of the light or an overactive imagination or what-have-you. So this: "She couldn't be blind. The sun had caught her eyes at an odd angle. That was all," is off-putting for me. He can wonder if she can see through those white eyes, after all she is staring at him, but blaming it on the sun doesn't work for me.