Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #28

TITLE: Blood
GENRE: YA High Fantasy

It’s easy, just like the first time.

Blood oozes through Micah’s fingers as he stops, relaxes his grip on the soldier’s still throat. Lowers the body to the ground. Steps back.


His brain stops. The hum and growl of the world fades away and he’s nothing. Just a boy with blood on his hands.

“Curse you.” It comes out as a croak, weak and venerable.

Weak? This has to stop. Now. He gets like this when he stays in the Mountains too long, pretending to be like his People. Hunt for food, guard the sick, watch the enemy burn through the Land and massacre the innocent. His hands will twitch, his legs ache to run, and he starts all over again.

He stares at the soldier’s black eyes, glassy but surprised, scared. With red smeared thumbs, Micah closes the eyelids. The jungle hisses around them, rustling with a hundred hungry eyes. Time to move on. Next target. The enemy deserves this. Even if it’s only one at a time, they deserve to die.

Feet crunch the ferns. Chainmail chinks. Sweat and the stench of the enemy pricks Micah’s nose and he stands, his body one with the thick jungle.

Micah lifts his longbow, slides an arrow onto the string. Sweat slides into the corner of his mouth. Tastes like blood.

“Here,” he says and steps in front of the second soldier.

After six years of this, he can’t reverse it, can’t fix it, can’t –



  1. I like your beginning sentence but as I read on my mind was struggling for a setting. I say it was fantasy and then you mentioned the jungle and I was a bit lost on what picture I wanted in my head. I think that you could lengthen some of your sentences. I found it a bit choppy. I know this is though with such a short passage but the ending was difficult for me with him saying "here" and then the stop.

  2. I think you've got a great voice here and I also love the idea of a high fantasy set in the jungle. I'm already sympathetic to Micah; he seems like a boy who has a tough job to do, and who struggles with the morality of that job and he's got a history. Great setup for some tension!

    I love the quick, short sentences, personally, they add personality and voice, but there were a few times your brevity led to confusing phrases. The dialogue "Curse you" needs a tag because I didn't know it was him talking.

    What chainmail is chinking? Micah's? The soldiers he is hunting? If we had a "his chainmail chinks" or "their chainmail chinks" it would be clearer.

    And maybe at least a few words with the phrase "Here." Is he talking to himself? As in "here is the soldier I've been looking for"? Or is he talking to the soldier as in "Here I am, come and get me"?

    And I agree with the last word "stop." I'm confused. Is it a continuation of the preceding sentence? In this context, it's confusing.

    And a nit-picky point. If he's killing soldiers with a bow and arrow, does he see or remove his first arrow from the first victim?

    I'd definitely keep reading, first to find out what happens with the next soldier he encountered, but more importantly because I like the voice and your character. Great job and good luck!

  3. I loved this. Can't wait to read the rest of the story!
    However, the first "stops" either has to go, or "His brain stops" can be changed to a sentence that means the same thing, so there is not a repetition of "stops". You see, the first "stops" doesn't so much rhyme with the last "stop" (singular and plural verb forms)...but maybe it is just me. I'm not a published author yet but those are my thoughts :)

  4. I liked the third person present. It lends a nice tone to the story. But the brevity didn't work for me. There wasn't enough here to give me a sense of where I was, or when I was, or what really is happening. I wanted a bit more context.

  5. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 18, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Very disoriented while reading this, and the first sentence was off-putting for me. When is the first time you do anything, easy? I couldn't relate to the viewpoint because of that first line.

  6. I liked this quite a bit. Micah is definitely sympathetic, and I'm always hooked by innocents forced into violence and the whole ensuing internal struggle.

    I thought the brevity worked to a point. The third stop felt like a bit much, and the fourth stop felt overdone. I would have liked to see a slightly better flow between the first and third lines, and perhaps a bit of grounding in his location/current situation to smooth out some of the awkwardness produced by the brevity. I was a little confused where the second soldier came from, and whether he had been there all along or not.

    (Nitpicky note. You said his voice came out as weak and venerable--did you mean vulnerable?)

    All that said, I did enjoy Micah's character a lot. I would have liked to see where this went.

  7. There's a lot to like here. I'm partcularly drawn to the jungle setting for high fantasy. And you clearly hint at a conflicted narrator, which I like. I'm somewhat confused,though, about who is talking and who some of the description is atributed to. For the setting and more, I'd read on.

  8. This is intriguing, I like the conflicted character, and the idea of a jungle setting for a fantasy is unique. I found the writing to be much too choppy, which became distracting. One or two sentence fragments would have been enough to establish the voice. I would omit the first sentence. You show us later that he’s done this before. Perhaps more of an interaction with the second soldier, rather than staying so much in Micah’s head would help ground the reader, as well. You did do a nice job setting the scene, and I’m hooked by the setup and the concept.