Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #26

GENRE: MG Contemporary Fantasy

“You need me, Gideon. Become a friend of the shadows and they will gladly embrace you.” From his hiding place somewhere in the second story balcony, the evil sorcerer laughed. “I will embrace you as a friend.”

Gideon Hardy stood on the stage of a large opera house. Rows of empty wooden benches stared back at him. Thick velvet curtains hung from the flyloft, the hems nailed to the floor by rusted railroad ties, closing off any possible retreat.

Lightning shot across the domed ceiling, nearly missing the enormous chandelier. Thunder boomed with no delay between sight and sound. Impossible from inside a building, but then this was a dream. Gideon knew that much.

It didn’t matter.

Beneath him, the orchestra pit glowed with amber light, as if a thousand fireflies hid below the lip of the stage. Gold and grand, the opera house made Gideon feel undersized.

The sorcerer cackled, still out of sight.

“Perhaps you need more demonstration of my power?”

Another hiss of lightning. This time the ceiling chandelier shattered. Glass shards drummed the wood floor.

Gideon widened his stance, squaring his shoulders. Warrior pose, like his mother taught him. In his right hand, he held an oak wand. He’d never used a magical wand before, but it somehow felt natural in his grasp. Familiar.

Gideon scanned the house, looking for movement. The brim of a pointed hat. A wisp of black cape. Anything.

Again, he saw a flash of lightning and heard the boom of thunder.


  1. I'd read more on this one, definitely.

  2. This is a bit too arch for me. The chiches are so heavy that I feel like they must be Jungian in some way - intentionally thick because it's a dream?

    If that's the case, I'd like some hint that the MC recognizes that evil sorcerers and wands and lightning and all that are symbols of something more complex going on in his head.

    If not, then maybe just pull back the scene-chewing a bit. Cackling sorcerers in pointed hats and black capes - even for MG, that's a bit much.

  3. I agree that some of the cliches are kind of heavy, but other than that, I think the writing itself is clear and nicely descriptive.

    What threw me is that in starting with a dream--and this dream in particular--I feel like I've been thrown into the final showdown up front. It's sort of jarring. I don't have any reference for this world, but I'm shown all this magic in a dream, where I'm not sure I can trust that it's representative of his waking world. I'm not sure what details to hang onto.

  4. I would recommend placing the second two paragraphs before the first one. I think if you want to start in a dream then tell us immediately. If you use the second two paragraphs then the phrase "it didn't matter" the story hooks us. Why doesn't it matter? It also helps us realize the cliches are part of a dream immediately.
    I did like the empty opera house setting.

  5. You've done a really good job of setting the scene with carefully selected details. I liked the description of the orchestra pit glowing 'as if a thousand fireflies...' and the imagery of the lightening streaking across the domed ceiling. I'm in the moment and curious to see what happens to Gideon!

  6. I thought all the thunder and lightning and fireflies worked well to create mood. What I think didn't work was the fact that Gideon says it doesn't matter.

    You do all this work to create a cool scene, a dark magical mood, and it doesn't affect Gideon at all, and if he's not worried, I'm not worried, because Gideon, it seems is used to all this. IT's just business as usual, and it's even a dream. For me, that kills all the tension and suspense you've just built up.

    Maybe he can be a little scared or worried?