Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #45

TITLE: Averagely Extraordinary

The cavern rumbled for the third time in as many minutes.

A young apprentice jumped back as vials and flasks smashed on the floor. The contents snaked around, hissing and creating acidic puddles.

“Not again! Jake, control your blasted fungi.” Being apprenticed to the greatest scientist in the universe wasn’t easy. The constant hum of power aged Frank Einstein beyond his years and the charged atmosphere caused premature balding.

His mentor entered with the trademark swish of his long coat.

“My dear Frank! It’s not my fungi,” said the old man, running his hand through the grey streak in his mottled brown hair. Jake Illhyde often changed his appearance to conceal his thousand year life-span. “You’re not fiddling with your pylons again, are you?”

“No, of course not,” Frank replied, miffed. The pylons were his first individual project.

A thunderous crash shook the whole cave. “Then what is it? A real quake?” asked the apprentice, coughing hard as stone-dust rained down from the ceiling.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You know we are shifting between planets.” Jake’s creased forehead gave way to wide-eyed horror. “Somebody is trying to reach us.”

“Reach us here? But nobody knows where we are. Or for that matter, who we are!”

“Somebody must have accessed the memories of the two who did. And I’m guessing they are after....”

“The essences! But we have only one left.”

One of Frank’s experimental pylons keeled over and the blue crystal smashed against the floor as the ground shook uncontrollably.


  1. Ha! Their names are hilarious. Some of the setting details are especially strong, like the snaking, hissing acidic puddles, and the stone-dust raining from the ceiling.

    I was really confused as to who is who, so much that I'm afraid to hazard a guess for fear of looking foolish. However, I will anyway - the young apprentice is Jake. But he has the thousand-year life span he's trying to conceal? It sounds not-quite-right, so I missed something, which means the characters could be more clearly differentiated early on. Maybe part of the problem is I'm not sure who the POV character is, either.

    To end on a positive, though, the mystery as to who is trying to contact them, who could even know who/where they are, is a strong set-up. With the characters better established, I'd definitely read on.

  2. Like Beth, I'm having trouble telling who's who. Here's my take on it:

    The apprentice is unnamed, Frank is the narrator, and Jake is the mentor/greatest scientist in the world. But it also sounds like Frank, too, is an apprentice--in which case, I wasn't sure why he's calling Jake by his first name. Maybe that's the type of relationship they have, which is OK; I'd be content to figure that out later.

    The scene has a breezy quality to it that I like. I want to know why the group is being pursued. Again like Beth, I'd read on with tighter character establishment.

  3. I had the same issue...This is an easy fix. The scientist could be changed to Dr. XXXX, which makes sense because an apprentice would not call his superior by his first name (to his face).

    I did like what was going on and it sounds like it is leading to something good. :)

  4. This sounds like a fun story. If you cleaned up some of the narration and character confusion, it would work even better. Would definitely read on.

  5. You have some nice, tight writing here; however, I did get confused as well. In general the writing is solid, so my guess is you can take care of the confusion pretty easily.

  6. The flow of dialogue works well and the humor is always a good sell with kids. I found myself unclear on too many things in this initial scene. One thing you could do is airbrush a bit of narrative that clues the reader into who the players are. Also, the initial voice played younger than YA to me. I looked at the header again thinking it was MG.

  7. Clarify, so humor will shine. Seems fun...would keep reading...

  8. I'm just going to chime in with what others have said. Clarify who's who, and whose POV we're in. Maybe say 'THE apprentice' in the first line? For a second I wasn't sure if he was important or if he was just one of many apprentices...

    Also as others mentioned, this sounds more like MG to me. I liked the names, but they're part of what made me think MG.

    MG is good, though. MG is fun. And this is an intriguing start. :]

  9. I agree about clarifying who is speaking. I liked the humour in this, and I'd read on:)

  10. Lol. I thought the apprentice was Frank. Three different takes on the characters and their names. This confused me so much, I had to go back to the beginning after only a few sentences.

    I think the first thing that threw me off was using Jake's name in the dialog (Frank speaking?). At first, I thought he was admonishing himself, then I read it again and I thought he was cussing someone else out.

    On a positive note, I loved the visual in your sentence, "...entered with the trademark swish of his long coat."

    Once the confusion of characters is sorted out, this sounds like a fun read.

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  12. So the part about shifting between planets made me want to read more. I'd be curious to see where the story's going.

    But the "science talk" didn't work for me. The words lost meaning in this context, like I know what the characters are saying, but I don't know what they're meaning.

  13. Not to my taste - to me it reads very young and the sort-of jokey style doesn't appeal to me. (But, hey, I don't care for Rick Riordan either!) And I found "pylon" confusing as I kept thinking of traffic cones.

  14. I feel like there was too much intro'd in this. I don't have any clue what's going on, or where they are, OR who's who. I think you could try to slow down a bit and explain it more. Good luck!

  15. I just don't know much about the MC and I don't know who is talking at points. It's a bit of a confusing read. Moving to quickly and trowing too many curve balls at the reader.

    There needs to be a little less dialogue and more prose and explaining.