Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #2

TITLE: Coveted
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Phoenix Arizona, 1971

By the time the body hit the ground, it had been reduced to dust. She held the robe it had been wearing in her fingers, her hands shaking.

“I-I’m sorry,” she gasped around a sob. “I didn’t mean—”

“Over here!” More robed figures filled the mouth of the alley.

She flung the cloth aside, and ran. The sound of footsteps rose behind her, followed by angry shouts. They’d found their fallen comrade, reduced to dirt by her hand. Blinking through a veil of tears, she ducked down an adjacent backstreet and banged into a dumpster. Pain blossomed along her hands and knees but she couldn’t stop to assess her injuries. Disoriented she spun around and stumbled on.
Keep going. She chanced a glance over her shoulder. The darkness at her back parted as the walls bled light. That light took the form of symbols in a language she didn’t know, but she understood what it meant for her.

The marks raced along the buildings the same as she raced down the lane. Fear weakened her legs and she nearly fell face first into a pile of garbage. She might be able to outrun her pursuers, but could she outrun the Runes?

Brick towered over her on either side. Neon signs flickered sluggishly, little more than bright blurs in her peripheral vision. Doors whipped by, along with barred windows. Music thumped beneath her feet, the chorus to Hey Jude light on the air.


  1. This seems like an interesting concept.
    At the beginning I can't tell whether the "Over here!" is someone calling to her or pursuing her, though it seems to clarify later.

    I want to keep reading, but the writing needs to be a bit tighter to really pull me in the way you want.

  2. The opening here was very promising, starting right with action, but I feel the writing needs a few more edits. In the opening sentence, you tell us that the figure was reduced to dust, yet a few sentences later, say “reduced to dirt by her hand.” There are also issues with commas, but that’s nit-picking.

    I felt there was a bit too much being thrown at the reader right from the start. The Runes, a killing, glowing symbols on walls. It all has potential, but when there isn’t enough sample to take a taste, I can’t get excited. Perhaps slow the pace down a bit?

  3. I thought the opening ws intriguing. I got caught up in it right away, but after that, there's nothing but description. You're describing everything she passes.

    Perhaps cut some of that and insert what she's thinking or feeling. She just turned someone into dust and it seems it was unintentional. How does that affect her?

    You might drop a line in also that says who these people are. Perhaps give more space to the story rather than the desciption.

  4. I liked the action in this excerpt, but I don't feel like I got a chance to connect with the protagonist in anyway. Why should I care that she's running for her life?

    I also was confused my the "Over here!" I thought someone was with her at first. The writing also needs a bit of tightening.

    Overall, I think I would be interested in reading this story. Nice start.

  5. I like that this piece shows suspense right away. But I agree with the comment earlier about slowing down just a little bit--I think either the chase scene or the appearance of runes give us enough suspense to get into the story. Together, it feels like a lot to grapple with--maybe choose which of the two is most important for the story set-up?

    Slowing down a little would also allow for some interior monologue, some way for readers to connect with the main character and care about her fate. At present, I'm interested, but I don't necessarily care if the main character makes it because I don't know anything about her--age, interest, personality--there's nothing here to let me identify with her.

  6. I think you did a good job with the action and the description for the most part, but I wasn't too fond of the dust becoming dirt a short time later.

    My main complaint is I don't have a name for her yet. I have a problem connecting with someone when I don't even know her name. Sorry.

  7. You've got some good action here, but I think some clarification would make it even better.

    For example, the first time I read the second sentence, I read it as "She held the rope it had been wearing in her fingers." Then I realized it was "robe" not "rope," but I was still confused by the "it" and "in her fingers." Corpses may be dead, but they still have a gender, so why call the dead body "it"? And do you really hold a robe "in your fingers"?

    I agree that giving the MC a name would help a lot, too. What if the second sentence were more like: "Mary clutched the corpse's robe in her shaking hands."

    Some streamlining like this will really add to the excitement you are already building.

  8. Really great! Is this your MC, or some sort of flashback/ hybrid prologue, etc?

    Aside from Firekeeper, this is the only other entry that really was up to par for me.
    Pretty amazing stuff, especially because I wasn't buying the 1970s. Like, I THOUGHT it was going to be bad, for me personally, because I've never liked stuff told in the recent past. But this was so perfect. You won me over. You've got a really good handle on the writing. Amazing action, interesting plot from what I gleaned. Girl can turn people to dust. They're after her, so are some awesome Runes that snake along buildings no matter where she runs. I for sure want to know who she is!

    I think the "vision" after peripheral is not necessary.

    AMAZING writing. I also like your title. :)

    -- Danica

  9. The concept and hook of this piece are great, but the writing makes me stumble a little bit.

    Don't get discouraged by this - because I really like the concept. I would be interested in reading more.

    With that being said, it took me a moment in the first paragraph.

    I stumbled over "She held the robe it had..." Because the "it" didn't seem to refer to the "body" for me. Could you say "he" or "she" or "She held the robe the figure had been"... It would clarify that right off the bat.

    And "the walls bled light" was another one. I know this scene has a sense of urgency in it, but take a moment to give us what we are looking at. I don't think "bled" is the right word for it.

    There are a few other things that I think other people already touched on - but this is definitely a good hook, it just needs some refinement. Good sense of urgency too.

  10. Both times I read this I got chills. I definitely connect with the protagonist. Love the runes. Hooked!

  11. I tripped over some of the language here ("bright blurs," "she chanced a glance," "Fear weakened her legs," "flickered sluggishly,") so I think you could exercise a lighter touch, fewer adjectives, and softer ones at that, some more restraint with the verbs, etc...BUT, overall, this has a wonderful sense of mystery to it, and really pulled me forward...