Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #22

GENRE: YA Fantasy

When I arrived at Grams’ late in the evening, the weather had picked up, looking gloomier than other days. The trees in the large yard trembled in the wind so violently that it seemed they might be uprooted. I wondered, if I peeled the grey skies back and threw in a sun, would it seem less gloomy?

Grams stayed up late in the lounge, reading a novel by the flickering candlelight. The electricity was shut down before the winds even began. Each time I crossed the hallway I realized her eyes were still trained on the same page. She would look back towards the curtains and bite her lips. She finally disappeared into her room, and though the violent winds were busy outside I was still cleaning into the early hours of morning. That’s when I heard it.

Someone was screaming.

Their voice was high-pitched, stretched into the raucous sky. Thin lines of shooting stars crawled from the sky towards the ground, landing as the forms of several pale men. I hesitated, then grabbed the candle and pressed my face against the cold window. The clothes the forms wore were made of night. They men were staring at the house that stood alone on open land, and immediately scattered when thunder struck. Some disappeared into a blur of speed, others walked, and untouched by the power of the wind, towards the little house whose fence had been wrecked. Hastily others appeared, carrying passed-out neighbors from our village. I jumped when the window before me fogged.


  1. Really great concept. I like the writing. I would suggest perhaps removing the rhetorical in the first paragraph, it seemed unnecessary to me. Also, I couldn't help but wonder how the MC would notice if Gram's eyes were still trained on the same page? Nitpicking, I know ;-)
    Other than that, I liked the visuals and would read more. Definitely got me intrigued!
    Good luck!
    - Byrne

  2. The paragraph about Grams is actually my favorite b/c it sets an ominous tone--she's nervous, either about the storm or something else that is coming.

    Things get fuzzy in the last paragraph. If men were dropping out of the sky, I would freak the f@!# out, but the narrator hesitates. It seems like a strange reaction, but perhaps this is a normal occurrence in her world?

    I think a little more reaction from the narrator would be helpful in grounding the reader. But I would read the next page to see what these pale dudes were all about.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Lots of interesting stuff going on here, but it’s all told to us so there’s no feeling or emotion here. Perhaps consider showing. Let us see the trees trembling and shaking. Maybe the windows rattle or the wind howls. Showing will give it more life.

    It’s also a bit disjointed. You start with her arrival, but don’t show it, and the story itself starts hours later, in the early morning. Then we have that short scene with Grams in the middle. I wondered, if Grams’ back is to the windows, then the doorway is probably not behind her, so how does the MC know she has been reading the same page over and over? She would only see the front of the book. And if the doorway was behind Grams, wouldn’t the back of the chair block the MC’s view of her? It just seems that regardless of where Grams was sitting, it would be impossible to tell that she was reading the same page over and over.

    It’s not really clear what’s happening in that last parg. Men (aliens?) are coming down from the sky and stealing villagers? You have ‘shooting’ (fast) stars ‘crawling’ (slow.) She hesitates, but you don’t say from doing what. Are the clothes made of night literal or figurative? Perhaps give us more there. Is the house that stood alone Grams’ house or a different one?

    Perhaps consider a rewrite for better clarity.

  4. Did you consider starting with the opening line, "Someone was (really should be "is") screaming". At first your MC thinks it's the high winds. Put Granny later in the next 4th or 5th paragraph? This is the dirty work of revision but hard work that can turn mediocre into awesome.

  5. Answer to the question in the first paragraph: Yes. Obviously.

    The problem with rhetorical questions—even when characters are asking them—is that they are quickly answered, and generally not in the way the author wants. Of course it wouldn't be gloomy if you tossed in a sun. It's the anti-gloom machine. ;)

    I don't feel like there's enough here to establish the narrator and world she lives in. In the fourth paragraph, "the house" is repeated several times. At first I thought she meant her own home and was a bit confused by that, but then I realized she's describing various houses in the village.

    That paragraph has a hard time getting the job done because we don't have a basis for what the village looks like—or even that her grandmother's house is in a village.

    I would suggest introducing us to the main character—who doesn't have a name yet—her grandmother, and the world in which she lives a bit more before all this action descends upon the land.

    Also, it appears as though the grandmother knows something. Are the events related to local lore or legend? If so, I might even suggest including allusions to that. Something—anything—that gives us a better sense of the main character and her world.

  6. I would start with the line "Someone was screaming." The two paragraphs before this felt like backstory and didn't hold my interest. I also didn't get enough of a sense of voice or character.