Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #15

TITLE: The Girl in Amber Flame
GENRE: Fantasy YA

Hunter Grey glanced both ways, making certain there were no eyes watching, before stepping out of the alleyway. The spiraling blue wormhole he'd stepped through to travel back in time winked out behind him. He walked down the street becoming reacquainted to this century.

He took a deep breath and couldn’t help the grin that spread across his face. The world was alive with scents he hadn’t smelled in too long--the yeasty whiff of bread from the corner bakery and the sharp tang of lemons from the fruit stands across the street. Even the acrid burn of rubber tires smelled good, it smelled like home. A home he’d thought never he’d see again.

The beacon in his pocket had led him here. The pulsing broadcast so strong there could be no doubt that he was exactly where she was. Problem was, he had no idea when he was.

He shoved his hands deep into his pockets, trying to get his bearings. It was a gray, dreary type of day. There were no posters, or banners proclaiming a specific holiday or date in time. He wasn't even certain which month he was in.

But there was one thing he knew based off his surroundings, and that was that he’d arrived before the Rift. Which was good, made finding the needle in the haystack doable.

The trickle of rain became an annoyance and he pulled his hoodie over his head. Street lamps flickered. Black skies shot through with veins of lightning.


  1. This interests me, and I would keep reading. I think you could tighten some of it, as you spend a fair amount of time repeating the same things (ex: he both reacquaints himself and gets his bearings.) I also think it would be more interesting if he saw other people and used them to determine 'when' he was. Good job overall, though.

  2. Well, time travel is a plus for me, so i'd keep reading, but i feel it could use some tightening. You use "step" twice in the first two sentences, and "smelled" three times in the second paragraph. Also - "The world was alive with scents he hadn’t smelled in too long" sounds a bit clunky.
    Maybe something more like "The world was alive with long-forgotten scents" or something along those lines that won't weigh it down.
    Otherwise though, i'm curious as to what he's doing there and about the time travel

  3. "Black skies shot through with veins of lightning" is a bit of an awkward fragment. Unless that is what you were intending? "Shot" doesn't work here as a verb. Perhaps if you inverted it, "Veins of lightning shot through the black skies." That way it would be a sentence.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. I think it's alright, but there are some contradictions that bug me. You say he's smelling the yeast of bread baking and lemons from a fruit stand, but then you say it's raining and the black skies indicate night-time. Rain tends to wash scents from the air, and I don't think a fruit stand would be open selling lemons late at night. Not any fruit stand I've ever seen, anyway. Purely daytime endeavors, early evening at most.

    I feel like the first paragraph is too telling. Leave it at 'wormhole', your reader can deduce that it's sent him back in time from other things the character says. In fact, I'd look for things like that throughout - readers don't like being talked at, they like being led on a journey. Let the characters lead, don't try to lead yourself.

    Good luck!

  5. I'm intrigued enough to read more, but I'd love for this to be tighter. Sentences like "Even the acrid burn of rubber tires smelled good, it smelled like home. A home he’d thought never he’d see again." feel very wordy. You can quite easily get rid of the repetitive "smelled" and "home". Which, I think, would make it a lot easier to read.

    Also, the wormhole made me think of Stargate, and it made it sound a lot more sci-fi than fantasy. So that confused me a bit--it wasn't what I expected. If this is a second-world type fantasy, I'd love some indication of it.

  6. I agree on Anonymous' comment to condense to "the wormhole he stepped through winked behind him." I think readers can fill in the rest, esp with your other clues about scents he hadn't smelled in awhile.

    I would work at weeding out cliches - fine for a first draft but leaving them in causes me gloss over the words which is not what you want!

    For example:
    "couldn’t help the grin that spread across his face"
    "trying to get his bearings"

  7. I liked the focus on smell as being evocative of a time or place. Trouble is the story then goes on to a logical inconsistency. He has "no idea" when he was yet you have just used his sense of smell to anchor him in what - I assumed - was a very familiar time and place. So, I didn't like that. The use of yeastly whiff, acrid burn, and sharp tang is one too many modifiers piled on each other. That being said, you have an obvious gift for description and sensory scene-setting. Now, you need to dial it back a notch which will, paradoxically, actually make it stronger. I would read more definitely. I should say, I would definitely read more :)

  8. I agree with what's been said. Specifically about if it's day or night - bakers bake early in the morning, 3am or so, but fruit stands wouldn't be out at night. None that I've seen anyways. Because it's sci-fi/ fantasy it could be for a reason.

    I would read on:)

  9. I agree with what's been said. The writing could be tightened, the smells don't mesh, and having no idea where he is though he just told us, was all bothersome.

    Having said that, I like the voice. It's good and I would keep reading. So, tweak a bit, but don't lose the good voice.

  10. This reminds me of the old TV show, "Sliders". The writing was a bit repetitive, there was more tell than show, and the rain would have washed away the smells.

  11. I love this - and time travel. Mentioning the wormhole in the second sentence was a little too abrupt for me though. I like more of a build to something so gigantic and fantastic - but that is just a personal preference.

  12. I like time travel and would want to read more but would like this tightened up - omit cliches, etc., and to learn what the stakes are - why is the MC here?

  13. Okay, so he's back to familiar smells, but he doesn't know really what or where? That was inconsistent for me. I love the idea of a Rift and that he's trying to find someone, but I need more precise details to find MY bearings and your MC is not helping.

    Lemons and bread but it's night? I would really find some telltale and precise details that help me know and then quickly help him know. Unless he just can't know and neither can I, so then, use the same precise details, but cloak them.