Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #4

TITLE: Beautiful Medusa
GENRE: YA Fantasy

I never knew what it felt like to be hunted. Not until a few weeks ago. The eyes of a predator raking across me. My skin breaking out in a cold sweat, my heart beating faster. Yet every time I cast my gaze around the supposedly safe confines of the Temple of Athena, no one was there. It made no sense. I had no right to feel this way. Not in the temple, a shining bastion of all that was good and holy, with its four thick walls holding back the decaying city beyond.

“Alessia, come on.”

I jumped at the sound of Naima’s voice. She had already set a few flowers and a piece of fruit before the statue of our Lady. Three stories tall, Athena towered over us, a spear gripped in one marble hand, her golden helm glittering in the afternoon light. I tilted my head back, letting my gaze linger on her perfectly-chiseled face, never changing, forever vigilant. “Blessed Athena, wise and serene. Protectress of us all.”

Naima tapped her foot, one thin eyebrow arched my way. I let my eyes drop back down to the ground and plucked a couple Lisianthus from the basket, bringing them close to my face and breathing deep, then ran my hand over the fruit, choosing a flawless, red pomegranate. My Lady’s favorite.

I looked over my shoulder and scanned the room one last time before we left our offerings.


  1. In the first paragraph, Alessia tells us no one is there in the temple, yet a second later Naima speaks.

    Also the first paragraph is telling us Alessia is scared. Perhaps show the feeling that is causing her to be afraid.

  2. The first paragraph really tripped me up. At first I thought this was all taking place in the past, based on how you open, but then I read on to learn that it's all happening right now, this feeling of being watched. I think? It's sort of unclear. If it IS all happening now, why not rephrase to something like "Until a few weeks ago, I never knew what it felt like to be hunted...[add the bit about the predator and the sweat] But now I was an expert. Every time I cast my gaze around..." You get the picture, just so that we know without a doubt we are starting immediately in the story, not some memory or something.

    I'm interested to know more about the "decaying city beyond"! That's a pretty cool visual. I hope the story takes us there soon :-)

  3. I love stories with mythology vibes so this definitely got my attention.
    You switched up the tenses in the first paragraph (or I just didn't read them right) and it threw me.
    Also, when she takes the pomegranate for her "Lady" I was confused. I thought they were leaving the offerings for Athena, so why would Alessia take something? Unless she means another Lady, but that would be confusing since she referred to Athena as her "Lady."
    I'm not clear on why Alessia is scared but Naima just seems impatient. Maybe that comes in the next few paragraphs.

  4. I seem to have lost my first comment. :(

    The writing is nice, the premise seems promising, and the narrator seems likeable. I'm wondering if you're not starting too early. Aside from the information that the MC has been feeling like she's being watched, the rest of this scene seems pretty mundane for her life. Can you be more specific with what she's had to deal with? Or is there a place in the near future with more conflict where you could introduce us to her?

  5. The title is intriguing - a beautiful Medusa? I sense a very cool story idea here and I want to read more.

    I came away from the first 250 words a little frustrated because I didn't feel as if I had a good handle on the heroine. I know she's religious/devout, and scared, but it wasn't enough to anchor me into the story.

    Feel free to discard this advice, but it occurred to me that you might want to switch things around in the beginning. Alessia is in the temple. It's sacred and important to her and she feels safe...then, she feels watched/hunted. Now it's not only scary, but it's a violation of the safe temple, and the mystery of why she's being hunted, increases.

    Just a thought. Great story and ideas. I really enjoyed reading this excerpt.

  6. The first parg. is a problem, I think, because you're telling us what she felt and experienced in the past, and then everything else happens in the present, so none of that fear and tension is being felt by me or your MC.

    I wonder why she's jumping at Naima's voice when, immediately afterward, she is telling us all the things Naima HAD been doing, implying she was not only aware Naima was there, but she had even been watching her.

    ANd if they are there to leave offerings, why is she taking food and flowers away with her?

    At the end, there's no real sense of what's going on. I would suggest doing what Kimberly suggested and start off with the MC feeling she is being hunted and watched then and there, in the present, and carry that fear through the page as she and Naima leave their offerings.

  7. I have to say that I was struggling to understand what was going on without re-reading. I think you need to spend more time setting the scene before you introduce too much information about the mythology. Also pay close attention and see if your sentences can be simplified. For example I would say 'I scanned the room...' and delete 'I looked over my shoulder..' Best of luck!

  8. Thanks, all, for the feedback! Will be working on edits this afternoon and this is very helpful.