Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #9

GENRE: Upper MG, Humorous Fantasy

A flash of blinding blue light filled the room, followed by a billowing cloud of dark, acrid smoke.


Now this is not the sound you want to hear from a wizard, especially a short one and Gerald was only five feet tall, meaning he wasn’t a very good wizard yet.

He had dreams of exceeding six feet, but only the best wizards in the land ever reached those dizzying heights, and at the rate he was going he would not be a wizard much longer. Four feet eight was the statuary minimum for all wizards. Anything less and Gerald knew he would be back working in the fields, or shovelling horse poop until he reached the minimum height again. At one point he had grown to five feet two, but an incident involving Lord Moleheart, the head of the village, and copious amounts of custard, set him back a bit. How was he supposed to know that creating a feast for his Lordship’s birthday would involve juggling so many words, several of which were purchased on the wizards’ black market?

He felt a rumble under his feet, steadily increasing in strength until the floor beneath him began rolling like a ship in a gale. Trying to stay upright he staggered to the window at the front of his weather-beaten cottage. The small hill which was supposed to be growing outside - to improve the view - failed to materialize, but the cotton ball clouds normally drifting gently on the warm summer breeze were fairly whizzing by.


  1. This sounds like a fun story. I love the idea of height showing how powerful the wizard is. I had to read some of the sentences a few times to figure out what was going on. The first sentences didn't draw me in as much as some of the later ones. Have you considered starting with the last paragraph?

  2. This page is full of very funny, intriguing concepts: wizards who get taller or shorter as they improve their magic, words you buy on the black market, a mustard spell gone wrong. It sounds like it's going to be a hoot.

    It has a sort of sing-songy, Pratchett-y voice. I think the trick when you're trying to do that in MG is to maintain that style while still keeping the sentence structure from rambling. It rambles a little bit in the middle.

    I got a bit lost in the scene because you start with an accidental explosion of sorts but then it takes us a while to get to the result. I'd almost forgotten he'd done anything.

  3. I love the creativity here, especially with wizards increasing and decreasing in height. Hilarious! It reminds me a bit of the Phantom Tollbooth, with the people who don't grow up, but down. Yours is an original, charming idea that sets the stage for a great story.

    My only suggestion is to up the stakes a little bit. The beginning was smooth and easy to read and amusing, but I didn't really feel any urgency to Gerald's plight. I'd love a hint of his character flaw, the reason he can't quite get things/spells right, the obstacle he must overcome in order to succeed.

    Fun to read, overall!

  4. Cute premise with the wizards' height reflecting their ability. You had me rooting for Gerald and wanting to see what comical accidents he'd have to endure before reaching the heights of wizardly glory. A few of the longer sentences could be tightened up a bit, but you have set up a character and conflict that hold the potential for many laughs.

  5. Like the others have said, you have some interesting ideas here. I'm having trouble understanding what's going on in the last paragraph though. What was Gerald trying to accomplish with the spell and what did he actually do?

    I had a similar problem with the Lord Moleheart incident. You're throwing so much information at us, we're missing all these cool little details that make the story.

    Slow it down just a bit, focus more on Gerald and a few key details, and I think you'll have a much stronger opening.

    Good luck!

  6. Very creative -- love the idea of a great wizard being determined by his height and the fact it can be given and taken away.

    I also love the opening and the whole, "Oops..." part, which immediately sets the humorous tone.

    I think this sounds like a fun read, full of imagination -- and I would definitely read on.

  7. Interesting concept overall, though this first page is a little hard to follow. Maybe save the explanation paragraph for later and just focus on this one spell first?

    Also, I was confused on Gerald's current height. You start out by saying he's only five feet tall, but later imply he has shrunk below the minimum, which is four foot eight. Maybe you just mean he's close to shrinking below the minimum, but that wasn't clear to me.

  8. I'd give this a few more pages. I liked the bit about stature determining a wizard's abilities, and I loved the bit about buying words on the black market. Those are the reasons I'd on.

    But the title and the first three pargs had me thinking this was very similar to The Amulet or Samarkand book (I can't remember the demon's name)which I seem to remember as starting pretty much the same way (the demon's appearance was drawn out much more but it amounted to smoke and a flash of light. But perhaps that's generic to the genre.)

    Then we get the "oops," which could lead to the problem, but instead, we get two pargs about the MC's hopes and dreams, and I'm wondering what the 'oops' was for. WHat did he do? Or not do?

    I'd suggest cutting the oops and the two pargs after it, and go right into the results of his spell. Perhaps get the buying of words in at the opening as he's putting his spell together, and get in the height issue in the new third parg where everything is going wrong, and then end the page with the 'oops.'

    Basically, work in the info in those 2 pargs after the oops somewhere else, preferably in the action as it takes place. As is, it brings the story to a dead stop just as it's getting started.

  9. I like the opening sentences. I'm assuming that the cliched 'A flash of blinding light..' was deliberate and this nicely contrasts with 'oops.' We're immediately rooting for the little wizard and I'd read a few pages more to find out where the story is headed.

  10. Thank you for all your comments I really appreciate them.

    I am tweaking the first few paragraphs as suggested. I have my query ready to go and the MS is available on request.

    Once again thank you all very much :)

    Best regards