Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #32

TITLE: Soul Redeemer
GENRE: YA Dark Fantasy

Hunting for an elusive dead person was the hardest part for Tavio.

After stepping inside the manor, Tavio paused, tightly clutching his two-handed sword called Imance. Its platinum blade glistened in the moonlight that barely seeped through the windows, for they were overgrown with vines. Even though his night sight was better than that of a human being, he found it hard for his amber eyes to penetrate through the gloom.

He could just make out the manor’s layout. It was still heavily furnished from the days when a wealthy tycoon inhabited the place. Everything–chairs, tables, vases, statues–were of sumptuous quality. The furniture was draped in cobwebs and filth, and the place smelled of mold, but thirty years ago this manor must’ve been a splendor to behold.

Any of the shadows could hold hidden secrets that weren’t perceivable by sight, so Tavio trained his ears for the slightest noise.

And that’s when he heard something leap towards him.

He instinctively dropped to a roll, coming back up in a crouch on the shabby rug. He heard something thud down in the spot he’d just been standing in.

The being that stood before him–a dead body being controlled by a demon–appeared as a normal human woman in her mid-twenties, with exceptions. Her skin was greenish gray, her fingernails and teeth were much pointier than they should be, and her agility and strength had increased. Worst of all were her glowing eyes; the infernal scarlet irises could paralyze anyone with fear.


  1. I love a good dark fantasy! I think you've started in a great moment and really put the reader in the middle of the action with a stealthy main character and a surprise attacker lurking in the shadows. The mood is creepy and fantastic. Moonlight! Mold! Cobwebs! Decayed manor! Nice job.

    A few suggestions: I'd definitely reword the sentence "Its platinum blade glistened in the moonlight that barely seeped through the windows, for they were overgrown with vines." Things glistening in the moonlight sounds clichéd, and it's was clunky for me too read. Perhaps break it into two sentences or mention the vines blocking out the moonlight first.

    I'd cut "that weren't perceivable by sight" as well. That's what hidden secrets in shadows are and it's redundant and unnecessary to say it again in the same sentence.

    I'd also cut "And that's when he heard something leap towards him." Just write it happening. What sound did he hear? Show the reader. A screech? A shuffle? A whisper of wind?

    I think the lengthy description of the dead person makes her seem much less scary. Shouldn't he be fighting for his life? Or whatever hunting entails? Not making a list of all her physical features. Show us that her strength and agility had increased by her doing something crazy that a human couldn't do.

    That being said, it's an exciting moment, and if the writing were cleaned up a bit I'd for sure want to turn the page to see what happens next.

  2. Very suspenseful and engaging.I think it would be good perhaps to fill us in a bit on who Tavio is and why he's hunting an 'elusive dead person.'It might be nice to know what isn't the hardest part, too -- ie what he's up to. I also think you could improve the impact of the beginning by tightening your language. For example, you could say "vine-covered windows," you could drop the word "being" after "human." You could drop "he found" and just say, "His amber eyes had trouble penetrating the gloom." You could delete "that weren't perceivable by sight." You could drop "being" in "a dead body being controlled by a demon." I like the details in the description of the manor. I'd love to experience it with him when he hears something leap towards him -- what does he hear or sense? When he describes the woman, it seems to be what he's perceiving, so you might need to make it clear that he knows her agility and strength are increased rather than that he's seeing it before him. Very intriguing beginning!

  3. At first glance, the setting seems a little cliche. Starting with action and that bang is nice, but then the action grinds to a stop while we describe a demon (how well can he see her in the murky moonlight?). We probably need more of a connection with Tavio before we care about why he's fighting demons.

    Loved the first sentence! Great hook!

  4. You have some vivid descriptions here that set the scene well. I've got a nice picture in my head of where Tavio is. What's missing for me, though, is scene balance. I think it would be helpful to interweave the description into the action and insert more interiority. If you gave us a clue at Tavio's thoughts and internal reactions, we could learn a lot more about the character in the first 250.

    Good luck!

  5. You've set a nice mood here, with lots of creepy description thats sets an eerie tone.

    I did think it could be much more exciting if you showed this, though, instead of telling it. The writing is very passive, and your telling us what Tavio did, instead of letting him do it himself.

    Also, the first sentence seemed unfinished. Hunting dead people was the hardest part of what?

  6. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 18, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Right away, the first line turns me off. The hardest part of what? Rather than intrigue me to continue reading, it is just annoying. It doesn't connect to the next paragraph, we're left hanging, so the first sentence feels like a device. Except it is a device that didn't work for me. I did not read past the first big paragraph, you lost me.

  7. I’m not hooked by this opening. I need context, and I’d like to see you show, rather than tell. There is a lot of extraneous information – the name of the sword, the description of the house - that we don’t need to be given right at the beginning of the story.