Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #18

TITLE: Enchanted Goddesses
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Aries Peterson smiled as the cool wind whipped past her face. It seemed to swirl around her, almost as if she’d called to it. It was certainly a nice day to be driving with the windows down, blasting music by Katy Perry.

I made it! she thought. I actually made it! I…

She frowned when she remembered where she was going, chastising herself as she drove away from school. It didn’t seem right that she had some minor good news while her dad had major problems.

Aries calmed herself down as she arrived in the Patient Pick-Up parking lot. She saw her sister’s navy blue car in one spot, and she parked her white car beside it. As she got out, she wondered if she should wait till later to share her good news. It wasn’t that big a deal to her family anyway, especially now.

When she entered the hospital, she went straight for the Cancer Ward. It was the same room as last time, Room 124, with its crisp bed, ugly curtains, and two faded pink armchairs. Just as bland as the mood in the room.

“Okay, you’re free to go home,” a nurse was saying as she took the IV out of Dad’s arm. Aries stopped in the doorway. She smiled when Dad looked up.

He smiled back. “Hey, Aries.”

“Hey, Dad,” she replied. “How’re you feeling?”

“Tired, as usual.” His face was pale, with dark circles under his eyes.


  1. Maybe it's just having read #17 that's ruining this for me, but it just seems kind of blah. There's nothing wrong with the writing. I am interested to know what her good news is, but I think the cancer thing being pushed on us right at the beginning seems sort of "oh great, another cancer story." I think what this page needs is a little more voice and something unexpected. Humor and maybe a hint of what makes this an urban fantasy.

  2. The writing on this is nice, and I'm really curious to find out what she made it into. But I think you could probably do away with the whole car ride and start with her walking into her dad's room. That, to me, would pack a lot more punch as an opening. Also, maybe a bit more of her reactions as she enters his room would help. Has she been there a lot before? Are there tired little details of his room that she knows well from lots of visits? Or does the hospital feel foreign or sterile or weird to her? These are all things I'd like to know, since it's written in her POV.

    Good luck with this!

  3. To clarify, I'm talking about smaller details of the room, something tiny like a broken window cord or a scuffed up patch of floor. Something that would take us out of the bog-standard hospital room description of bed/chairs/curtains.

  4. I like the premise, but found myself entirely distracted by the number of times you use 'it' at the start of this piece.

  5. I'm not hooked. The first paragraph doesn't tell me anything - she's driving with the window down and the radio on. Is this relevant to anything? Does it advance the story?

    I agree with Nicole - I'd start the story walking into the hospital room (the whole car park scene doesn't add anything) we will assume something is long term/seriously wrong if you take Nicole's suggestion and let us know that she is familiar with the room because she's been there so often.

    Then show us she has news by having her tell her sister and father, rather than TELL us this. This will get you to the news (and a reason for us to read on ) a lot earlier.

    So far, what you have is fairly lack lustre. There isn't anything to encourage me to turn the page.

  6. Be wary of using things like real performers' names in your work - not because you'll get sued, necessarily, but because it dates your story before it's even published. If Katy Perry did something stupid and embarrassing and ended up on the news for it, your reference would suddenly mean something very different from what you intended.

  7. I like that already the MC has good news to share--a goal--and her intention to share it is stated outright.

    I'm wondering whether your story might start best at the hospital, skipping the drive. A number of writers advise against starting with a transportation scene (some advise to cut all transportation scenes altogether, though that's extreme!). You can introduce everything right there in the hopsital room without the bother of getting there. As Nicole pointed out, the details that your character notices can show us about her. Using all of the senses, plus connecting the room to something she feels or cares about (or not cares about) will make those details pop.

    In the next go-round, you can also look for opportunities to strengthen verb choices. Instead of went, saw, got, use something more specific and dyanamic to pull the reader in. Good luck!

  8. I agree with the others' suggestions to cut the drive and start at the hospital.

  9. I agree with everyone else that you should start later, but I don't agree that the hospital is the right place - the reason being that she's only there to pick up her dad, so she won't be there long anyway, and then you'd have to go into the ride home.

    Start where something happens - maybe when she actually tells her good news, or when dad says he only has a month to live (or whatever his prognosis or the inciting incident is.)

    What is it that sets this story in motion? That's the place to start.

  10. I can see how the car ride is set up as a contrast to the hospital here, but as the other comments have pointed out, it doesn't actually move the story forward. We still don't know why she's excited, and I think that exploring her good news--or this idea that she can't tell her family the news--would make us more invested in the main character and, ultimately, make for the strongest opening.