Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January Secret Agent #16

TITLE: Minds and Manors
GENRE: YA Fantasy

“Hey kid, watch it!”

I jump back in time to avoid being trampled by a horse-pulled wagon and its crazed driver. Cold, dark water sprays me, staining my clothes. I shoot a death glare at the back of the driver’s head as he, and his wagon, disappear around a corner. That man has it out for me.

I sigh. I really should’ve stayed in bed today. My stomach growls in protest of the thought, reminding me why I’m out here in the first place - food and rent aren’t free – and the only place for me to get a job is the Fortune Hunters Bureau. I run my fingers through my now ruined hair and step out on to the uneven cobblestone street.

Leaves dance by, a cold wind ushering them along, serve as a reminder of the changing seasons. The autumnal sky is gray, much like everything else around here. The people, the buildings, even the mid-day sun – everything is monochromatic. This is proving to be yet another boring day. I stumble along the streets of Lummava, learning just how stiff I am from last night. I know one thing for sure – Zev Porter will never do that again.

The life of a Fortune Hunter isn’t easy, and last night’s job was a reminder of that. Working late is a nightmare and that was humiliating. The icy wind picks up, further chilling the barren streets. This place is always so cold and desolate.


  1. I'm really intrigued by the idea of having Fortune Hunter as a profession. I have to admit, when I read "I jump back in time", I understood it as time travel. Oops! If anyone else remarks on it, maybe you could add "just" before "in time." Otherwise, it might be just me. :)

    The line "that man has it out for me" makes me think the MC knows the man. Maybe it would make sense to name him then. I don't think you need the line about the boring day, and there is quite a bit of (well-written!) description about the town that might be better saved for later. Instead, you could elaborate more on who Zev is and/or the job. Or keep the MC moving and doing something.

    At the end of the third paragraph, I thought the MC was going to the Bureau to get a job as a Fortune Hunter. But in the later paragraphs, it sounds like he/she already is one. Might be good to clarify. Good luck with this!

  2. The descriptions are very well done. Although gray and monochromatic it still sounds beautiful to me so I thought the MC felt morose, which I thought echoed the weather, the colors etc, until I'm told the feeling here is boredom. I think it makes me ask, ‘Why should I read about a boring day?’ Maybe it’s just the word. The MC sighing, not paying attention (hence almost being run over) might be enough to suggest feeling.

    I agree on the other crit. The statement "That man has it out for me," is not clear whether it is an important character/event that moves the story along or just a wry, passing remark. If it's the latter, I think the action scene would be tighter without it.

    The visit to the Bureau is clear to me, however. I thought a Fortune Hunter is like a bounty hunter and they have to secure contracts or jobs at the Bureau.

    The statement “how stiff I am from last night” is a bit sexually suggestive. If this is not the author’s intent, I apologize. I might have to just get my mind out of the gutter :), but hard to do when “that” is used twice, in italics, that Zev Porter will never do it again, and that it was humiliating. Maybe it’s ok to tell us? or give us a different clue.

    Beautiful writing, the pace is just a little slow. I know it’s difficult since it’s only the first 250 wds. BTW, if the MC is female, I’d love to see her kick serious a** as a Fortune Hunter. Good luck!

  3. I agree with Laura’s comments on the “that man has it out for me” line. From what I understood initially, the man was just another driver, otherwise your MC would’ve mentioned his name. But that line made me question whether he knew the driver and if something like that had happened before. I don’t think you need the reader to stop and ask those questions at that moment.

    Another suggestion is to go back to this sentence: “Leaves dance by, a cold wind ushering them along, serve as a reminder of the changing seasons”. Although I get the idea and like it, I think it’s a bit clunky. I think the rest of the descriptions are great, by the way.

    Other than that, you have a solid, well-written start to an interesting story.

  4. I'm intrigued! And very interested to find out what exactly a fortune hunter does in your world.

    "Leaves dance by, a cold wind ushering them along, serve as a reminder of the changing seasons." This is a lovely image.

    I think a few things could be improved upon. First, it strikes me that your Main Character was about to step into the street in front of a wagon. The driver would have every right to be angry. Why does this make him crazed? Why would not wanting to run her over imply that he has it out for MC?

    "I sigh. I really should’ve stayed in bed today." and "This is proving to be yet another boring day." Cliches. Don't waste words. None of this moves the story along. Readers, especially YA readers, want action.

    "The life of a Fortune Hunter isn’t easy." Sounds to me like being a fortune hunter is very important to the plot of your book. Don't dismiss it's importance by telling us something so . . . well . . . to be honest . . . bland. SHOW the reader that it isn't easy!

    You use the word "that' three times towards the end and I have no idea what "that" is. You are going to need to drop some hints.

    Best of luck!

  5. It’s an interesting tense choice here, and isn’t necessarily a bad choice per se, but it has to be done well throughout, since some phrases are a bit awkward like “I shoot a death glare.” The Fortune Hunters Bureau is an interesting angle, but the bit following it about the weather kills the interest-level a little. Even though you’re trying to describe the MC’s boring day, you have to be careful not to bore your readers by telling them about the boring day in the process—a tricky balance! I’d also rather see how the life of a Fortune Hunter isn’t easy, rather than being told so, and get more of a fantasy vibe early on.