Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #40

Genre: YA Fantasy

Sitting on the roof of her family’s shop, Teagan Proctor plotted new ways to torture her brothers. They took their witch responsibilities too far. What sort of demon was going to waltz through Salem on Samhain? Tonight was New Year’s Eve for witches, the most sacred day on the calendar. All demons should be hiding.

Yet there she sat, her AP Calculus exam long forgotten. Instead she scanned the narrow cobblestone street three stories below. Trick or Treating didn’t start for at least another few hours, yet tourists were packed into this particular side street. She didn’t want to imagine what the rest of downtown was like. That was at her back along with the rolling ocean.

What she was looking for, she didn’t know. Pointed hats bobbed on the heads of tourists while others waved wands around. A banjo twanged in contrast to the street drums banging away. The late October sun flashed off vampire fangs while a little girl in a brightly colored tutu tugged at her father’s sleeve. Teagan turned away as the father swung his daughter onto his shoulders, ignoring the tightness in her chest.

Vendors all dressed in extravagant costumes, most with black hair and some sort of facial piercing, waved tickets around. Tourists lined up, eager to learn about the evil beings that were once sentenced to death. Teagan chuckled. If they knew that one watched them at this moment, well she’d probably be set on some sort of display.


  1. I'm drawn in by the witch family living among normal people. Good job showing this with the AP Calculus exam :). Good job on the cast of characters in the crowd. I like the hint of Teagan's backstory by showing her sadness at the happy father and daughter.

    In paragraph one, maybe add a sentence to clarify how the brothers take their duties too far.

    You could tighten up by deleting some of these phrases: "at least" in "for at least another few hours" (or change to "for a few hours"); "banging away" in "street drums banging away"; "all" in "Vendors all dressed"; and "some sort of" in "set on some sort of display."

    This sentence felt awkward and out of place. "That was at her back along with the rolling ocean." Maybe work the information another way.

    I would definitely keep reading!

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  2. Yep. Read on for sure.

    Hello! It's lovely to see a YA Fantasy featuring witches in a third person POV, which is my fav to read. There's a good voice here and some vivid descriptions that really set the scene.

    I was expecting a little more explanation of how her brothers took their witch responsibilities too seriously. Not a lot in these first 250 words, but just a little more a hint of what that meant. I felt like the witch detail got lost among the halloween detail, and it's a strong hook that shouldn't be buried.

    As a final note: would Teagan chuckle about them finding out she was a witch? Seems like it would be more serious, considering it's attached to 'sentenced to death'. Just seemed a little off to me.

    Anyway: really well done and good luck!

  3. Get descriptions and intriguing, but a little confusing. At first with word shop and genre fantasy, and the word witches, I am thinking more traditional. AP Exam makes me think urban, though. It was hard to know exactly why she was upset with her brothers, a detail never fleshed out. I think you have some amazing things to push here, but you need to settle a little more solidly on the details you want to push to make sure you give the reader the right impression in the beginning.

    One solid detail could really help pull us in further.

    Good luck!

  4. I agree 100% with demory. I don't have much more to add other than fantastic job revising. This is really strong!

  5. I'm definitely intrigued by the concept and I would absolutely read on. The thing I'm a little worried about is that you spend the whole first page describing a setting. We don't get much about the character except age and that she's a witch. You've set the scene beautifully.
    I feel like there was a hint of showing something emotional with the father swinging the kid up onto his shoulder and her having a tightness in her chest, but the effect was diluted by the fact that I had to re-read the sentence to try to figure out who was ignoring the tightness in who's chest. Was the father ignoring the tightness in the daughter's chest? that's how I read it the first time, which I didn't think was right.

    In short, this is a great idea, the writing is strong, there are a couple of areas that could be tightened, but this is really solid. Good luck with the secret agent!

  6. Witches living amongst normal people — and I have a flashback to Sabrina the Teenage Witch (which ones one of my favorite shows as a kid). Others mentioned tightening up the writing and I agree with them completely. Why is it the tourists are packing into this particular side street. Is it a particularly special street in Salem? I don’t think sun would flash off vampire fangs for her to see them at this distance unless they were made of some sort of metal. The banjo twang, while I love the imagery, doesn’t seem to fit in with Samhain in Salem. Why are vendors waving tickets rather than selling their wares? Your last line, I’d change it to “be used in some sort of display”. Set on… I was expecting fire to be the next word.

    I absolutely love getting to see a witch book in third person and I definitely would read on with this one. I adore seeing supernatural creatures living amongst humans and going unobserved — just make sure that it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t feel like similar books that have come before it!

  7. This could use more focus. It opens with Teagan supposedly plotting new ways to torture her brothers, but she not only doesn’t come up with any ideas, she doesn’t even try to.

    Then you go into witch responsibilities, but don’t tell us what they are.

    Demons enter the picture next. What relationship do demons have to witches? Why wouldn’t they dance through Salem on Samhein? Why would they need to hide? Again, you don’t tell us.

    Then she drifts off into staring at the crowd. We get three pargs of description, and most likely, none of these people will matter in the story.

    What is the current problem? Why is it a problem for Teagan? What does she plan to do about it? Start with a scene that allows you to get that on the page.