Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January Secret Agent #44

GENRE: YA Fantasy

According to her sister, Allie Davis was 3,586 years old. She only remembered the last seventeen of them, which was entirely her sister's fault, and no, Big Sis Tess was not the least bit sorry.

"You need a memory wipe sometimes," she said whenever Allie brought up the question. "Three or four hundred years of memories wears on you. You can't handle it."

On a normal day, Allie took whatever Tess said as an indisputable fact. But today was different. First off, the house was a sauna. A late spring heat wave had hit the Florida coastline with full force. Sweat ran in lines down Allie's face, and every breath felt like she was inhaling lead. Her best solution was to lay on the kitchen's cool tiled floor while Tess clanged things against the busted A/C in the living room.

"How come I can't handle all those memories and you can?" Allie moaned over the racket.

"Huh?" Another clang, followed by a thump and a clatter. "Ow! Blast this ineffectual human technology!"

Allie sat up. The room instantly felt ten degrees hotter, but she didn't care. She marched into the living room, which looked roughly like someone had beaten an army of robots to death in it. "I said," she began, stepping over a pile of wires, "why do you get to keep your memories and I don't?"

Tess looked up from a dismantled control box. She was working in shorts and a sports bra, exposing a good deal of her green, scaled skin.


  1. Already there is much to like about this. I LOVE the idea that these creatures have periodic memory wipes to keep from being burdened by their past. But I think you're putting too much information up front too quickly.

    Let me start by saying, you are getting your info across in the right way. "Ow! Blast this ineffectual human technology!" is a great way to tell your readers your creatures are not-human without actually TELLING it. But I think this fact could have more punch a few changes down the line.

    Now I don't know where your story is going, but is the inciting incident really fixing the air conditioner? Or is this just a scene created to let your readers know your characters are aliens who get memory wipes and live in Florida? Maybe try putting that pivotal moment up front and sprinkling these things in as backstory. I think it would make your story more exciting.

    Best of luck!

  2. Oh glory, I love this! I adore the concept - they're not human, clearly, but it reads so human, if that makes sense. You've done a great job giving Allie a clear and distinctive voice right off the bat. Kudos!

    Couple of tiny, tiny things caught my eye. Your second sentence is really long. I'd break it up (maybe start a new one with "And no, Big Sis Tess...")

    In the para starting with "Allie sat up" maybe move her dialogue at the end to it's own paragraph, just for ease of reading and better flow? Again, tiny tiny suggestions. I adored this, and would definitely keep reading!

  3. This is adorable! I like this. It has a great opening and it brings up so many fascinating questions. I would totally read the rest of this chapter!

    That said, I would personally connect one little dot here: Why does the fact the house is super hot make Allie so curious about her memories?

    I can guess, but it isn't clear--you say she usually believes everything Tess says. So was Allie totally OK with having her memory wiped until today (because Tess told her, and Tess was right)? If so, why is she changing her mind now, and just how determined is she? Because "I guess Tess is right, but I want to know!" doesn't imply as intense a motivation to learn the truth as "I was never sure I was OK with this, and it's been eating at me."

    And if that's the case--if she was always kind of iffy about this, and the heat just made her irritable enough to bring it up--that's a very different image than "[she] took whatever Tess said as an indisputable fact."

    This would probably just need a sentence or two. But if Allie is going to get *really insistent* about asking about her memories (and it sounds like she's about to do that), I'd like to know a little more about why.

  4. Very funny! Great voice.

    I think it's lie, not lay; you lie down, but you lay a letter on the floor.

    Seems more sci fi than fantasy, but then I'm not a expert on this.

    I'd like to have you start with the inciting incident and show us more conflict than just a disagreement about memory wipes--which is a hoot, BTW.

    Keep working on this, it's a delight to read.

  5. I like your narrative better than the dialog. The word memory is repeated in the first line of dialog and "Blast..." doesn't quite hit a natural tone to me. Read it out loud. See if it works for you. Interesting beginning!

  6. I love the contrast between Florida weather and the broken AC and the green-skinned sister! I especially love the line "Blast this ineffectual human technology!" I also felt the discussion on memory wipes was good.

    What made me wonder in the beginning is why a 17yo would just accept her sister's word that she's thousands of years old and gets her memories wiped. My first thought was that the sister was delusional. It wasn't until I got to the line with the human technology that it began to fit for me. I wonder if that should be pulled forward. Or the line with the green skin? Then, instead of thinking they are modern, human girls and wondering which one might be delusional, I'd be wondering why only Allie gets her memory wiped. Best of luck with this!

  7. At least from the sample, this feels more sci-fi than fantasy, with memory wipes, “green, scaled skin” and phrases like “ineffectual human technology.” The voice and humor is coming through here, but it’s not the most interesting of scenes as it could be. The memory wipe angle has been done before, but it seems like you are trying to put your own twist on it with thousand year old aliens needing the wipe to not overload their brains.