Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #36

TITLE: Hour of Mischief
GENRE: YA Fantasy

The gears of my hand whirred softly as I fastened my last knife around my right thigh. Pre-robbery nerves always made buckling things difficult, even with a limb constructed out of circuits and steel. The promise of the soon-to-come adrenaline rush made my every nerve sing with excitement.

Seated in our usual place in the abandoned clock tower, my team made last minute additions to their outfits. Sid stored a pair of silver lined revolvers in his jacket. Next to his hulking figure, Parker looked even smaller than normal. He was slipping a few more explosives into his bag. Low grade only, of course. Murder wasn’t in our agenda and I’d never paid much tribute to the Goddess of Death. I hadn’t met her personally, but based on the stories I imagined her as a dreary and unlikeable individual.

Only Sylvia wasn’t checking her weapons. She had prepared all of her equipment last night in the midst of a pre-heist anxiety attack. Now, she busied herself twirling a loose thread from her vest around her finger.

“Hey, Sid, what do you think?” Parker asked, holding up two different types of bombs. One was a pocket watch altered to create a smoke screen at the touch of a button. It was great for quick escapes. The other was a bug-like machine meant to pursue moving targets until it exploded. Parker called them Chaser Beetles.

Sid just shrugged.

“The pocket watch,” I answered, since Sid wasn’t one for audible feedback.

Parker frowned. “I wasn’t asking you, Janet.”


  1. An artificial limb might not be the most obvious hook, but in my opinion, it's a fantastic one. :) Janet's voice is distinctive, and you do a good job of briefly yet vividly introducing her co-conspirators. I'd love to read more of this!

  2. Great voice. Even though this was just 250 words, I feel like I have a vague idea of who she is, like she's the observer. I think your perfect first line would be your second sentence, "Pre-robbery nerves..." I definitely want to know more. You've managed to create an air of mystery while showing enough details for us to understand.

  3. I really enjoyed this, you hooked me right in. I loved the artificial limb detail - sounds android or futuristic, but my favorite description was thinking of the Goddess of death dreary - stellar!

  4. the "gears" had me interested, and I kept reading to get a hint of whether I'd misread this or if the MC had a mechanical arm. I didn't get a solid setting to be able to answer this (steampunk? or something else?), but that didn't bother me. I'd keep reading. good luck!

  5. Yeah the artificial limb starting off seemed great to me! I do like that you have a strong sense of all your different characters, and I like how I get the MC's voice--it's that little paragraph about "Goddess of Death" that kinda stings that, makes it kick.

    I do know that people don't usually like it when you dump five character names in the first 250 pages. I've been told at conferences 1 new name for page, or 2 maybe--just because it's hard to really get people's personalities that way. If we could see more setting, or see the characters in more color before getting their names--describing them as you have, but then getting straight to MC's feelings about one or two of them, or...I really don't know. I just know I'm kind of lost in the names, and I'm pretty good about names. I've been told I'm pretty bad because I dump names at the beginning, too. So I don't know. Maybe not one per page, but maybe put more setting and less names in the first 250?

    Love the weapons, btw!

  6. Smooth and effortless writing. I really didn't mind all the names thrown in because you didn't linger in your descriptions.

    So far it sounds like Steampunk Fantasy with all the gadgets and whatnot. But who knows?... It's only the start.

    I'd read on.

  7. I liked this a lot, it read easily and I immediately got a visual with the steampunk-ish elements.

    The only nitpick for me is the very first line, "the gears of my hands" tripped me up. I kept wanting it to say gears ON my hands, but maybe the hands are mad OF gears. Given it's the very first line, maybe play around with phrasing and have someone read it out loud to see if it sounds smooth.

    This is a strong entry!

  8. I did feel immediately in the story but I think that you should take your time when introducing the characters. Too many characters too quickly confuses the reader. Also take your time and don't let the plotunfold too quickly. Detail, description, setting are really important to establish the suspension of disbelief. Good luck!

  9. This sounds like fun - the only different thing I just had to throw out is that I so wanted the line to read "...adrenaline rush made my every remaining nerve..."

    Good luck!

  10. I liked the last line best, because all through this, I thought the MC was male. To find out she was female was a nice surprise, and made me think Parker was being rude to her because she was a girl. Could be entirely wrong, but that's what I got.

    I didn't have trouble wit the names. Each character was described in a way that made them stand out from the others.

    I would have liked to have known who or what they were going to rob. Adding that could add suspense to the opening.

  11. I love the beginning of this but lots of characters to introduce all at once. They are all distinct and I'm sure with all contribute to the story, but maybe focus on the three you get involved with at the end of the piece. That's where the real magic is, and some potential for conflict. I love the voice of the m.c. This has loads of potential and I would love to read more. Good luck!