Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Secret Agent #38

GENRE: YA Fantasy - Own Voices

Beta Universe, Hieros —Apraesis

Our two moons once foretold that I would become Queen of Hieros, Sun of the Four Kingdoms. But I had never been interested in standing in the sun. I lived in the shadows, and pretended to rule under the light.

As heir to the throne, or Hierisa, private training was my favorite moment of the day, the few hours when I got to let off some steam, when I was allowed to be myself. I excelled at it, and no one bested me when it came to the Mystic Arts, except for my mentor Raeki. Standing at the other end of the Stone Room, he stretched out his arms and got ready to attack.

"Create a fireball," he ordered. In the always cold training room, only ten feet separated us and the rock wall, circling the space like a prison cell.

 “Piros!” A flame sprung from my fingertips, a blazing raindrop of orange heat that crept up my hands. I released the fire, allowing it to spread across the chamber like an uncaged tiger.

Although I had been practicing The Mystic Arts for years, I still wondered how I didn’t get burned. I could not age. I could not die. The first time I generated fire with the power of my mind, I hadn’t said a word out of fear for three days. Now that my eighteenth Red Moon had passed, I was supposed to control my nature. Now I was supposed to become Queen.


  1. My life's mission right now is to learn to do fewer info dumps. It isn't easy. It also doesn't seem fair when films like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings begin with info dumps to establish setting. But I think we're called upon to be more creative.

    What if the submission began with an ordinary girl waiting by a window gazing at the two moons?

    You say the moons "foretold." How? Do astrologists read the moons and then prophesy? She could note the importance of those moons for giving prophesies to her people.

    Then reveal she's been waiting for her favorite part of day, her lesson.

    Describe her mentor, what he looks like, how she feels about him.

    We're invested now, wondering why she likes her lessons so much. Then we're alarmed when this man she respects takes an aggressive stance. Is her going to beat her?

    Play with irony. Play with what we expect and what you give us instead.

    Does he need armor? We would wonder why. We would wonder why our simple, moon gazing girl, who sat basking in shadow, shrinking from the sun would be thought of as dangerous.

    Also, if he poised to attack, wouldn't he ask her to go on the defensive?

    Otherwise he should be poised for defense if a fireball is her first action.

    I assume they're going to spar.

    I like the description of the spell casting and what it looks like and how it feels, that it doesn't burn her.

    Then you end with the clincher, the thing that hooks us completely. Why is she training? Because the moons foretell I'll soon be Queen.

  2. Thank you! Your notes make a lot of sense. Will revise accordingly. :)

  3. I agree that the first paragraph feels a little info dumpy, but I would start with, "Private training was..." And I agree you should reveal what the moons foretold at the end of the last paragraph. Love the "blazing raindrop of orange heat that crept up my hands." And I love the description of the wall like a prison cell but I feel you lose some of the effect with the preceding clauses. Maybe: The rock wall circled the space like a prison cell. And maybe have her shiver or rub her arms to indicate that it's cold in there. ?I'm a little confused as to why her mentor is prepared for an attack and then orders her to produce a fireball. If they are sparring, wouldn't she get to decide what magic to use? And if he's instructing why would he prepare to attack? You could show a little more action if they're sparring. Overall, it's an intriguing start. Good luck!

  4. Our two moons once foretold -- "once" unnecessary
    But I had never been interested in standing in the sun. -- "But I never wanted to stand"
    As heir to the throne, or Hierisa, -- "As Hierisa, heir to the throne"
    Second paragraph a bit clunky -- two passive (was) sentences, "when it came to the Mystic Arts" could be phrased better, last sentence doesn't flow well.
    In the always cold training room, only ten feet separated us and the rock wall, circling the space like a prison cell. -- Awkward sentence structure.
    In the always cold (awkward) training room, only ten feet separated us and the rock wall, circling the space like a prison cell (what circled? Remove comma if it's the "rock wall" that circled).
    Sprung -- should be sprang. Sprung is "had sprung", not simple past
    Allowing is a very passive verb in this sentence.
    been practicing -- practiced
    "get burned" -- another awkward verb.
    generated fire with the power of my mind -- clunky
    said a word out of fear -- awkward grammar. Perhaps "fear had stolen my tongue for three days"?

  5. I really liked the opening paragraph, it certainly got me interested, I just felt the rest was a little jam packed with too much info, although interesting info, spreading it out more, and adding more description wold add it to it, especially about the mentor.

    1. I should really read my own comment before hitting publish. I meant 'adding more description would add to it.'

  6. I loved the opening parg. but then was disappointed when it didn't continue in that vein. We're instantly thrown into a scene that doesn't have anything to do with the shadows.

    If you're going to start with the training scene, perhaps begin with a different opening, one that relates in some way to training.

    You might also show more of the training. We see one fireball produced, but don't see what she does with it. You also say Raeki prepares to attack, but he never does.

    And then the last parg. changes topic again. If they're going to train, have them train. Get a bit of action into the scene so we see she is as adept as she claims to be.

    And perhaps find a way to get a problem on the page. If the problem doesn't relate to training or her magical abilities, perhaps this isn't the place to start.

    I do think it's interesting but perhaps needs to be more focused.

  7. While I would agree that reducing info dumping is good, I must confess, I liked the first paragraph. While it perhaps felt like something that I've seen used as a blurb before, it hooked me enough to keep reading.
    My one concern is in the final paragraph. You say that she cannot age, but not when this started. Obviously she must have aged initially or she'd still be a newborn, but when did the aging stop? I just feel that that needs clarifying.

  8. I really liked the opening paragraph. It was nice and dramatic and I didn't feel it was too "info-dumpy".

    On the other hand, I'd lose the closing paragraph, as that did feel like it was trying to tell us too much too soon and also repeated some of the info in the opening. Instead, I'd focus on the training and what she's feeling and sensing and doing in the here and now, rather than jumping back and forth between things that happened to her in the past and things to come.

    Finally, you describe this as own voices. I know this is only the first 250 words, but is there any way to give more hints about the heroine and allude to the own voices aspect?

  9. I like the first paragraph - it's a great set-up. I'd definitely read on. The rest of the passage does not disappoint. Though it sounds like a lot of YA fantasy out there, the title "NILE" definitely makes me think this is set in Egypt, so I'd be very curious to read more because I'd love to represent a Middle Eastern

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