Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Secret Agent #50

TITLE: The Wizard
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

I stared at Heath’s face hovering above me as I lay there on the gentle slope of my roof. The almost black night sky behind his head made him look as if he was floating in space. I let my fingers run across his cheek. I was so warm my skin was almost sweaty. My cotton shorts bared my legs to the air outside, and a quick, cooler breeze swept over us. I shivered, but still felt hot to the touch.
“Cold?” Heath asked me, sliding one hand across the skin on my waist under my shirt. The other reached up, and his fingers were in my hair. His legs between mine. I couldn’t answer him. The sound of my own voice would make things too real.

Heath and I were friends in name, but not in action. Because when he kissed me I forgot we didn’t belong together. Not in that lovey way. We meant not to. But we sometimes collapsed together into that brain-numbness of lips on lips and body pressed to body. Lately, I found myself waiting for the next time.

A loud screech cut through the air.

I froze.

The strange noise filled all the dark silence, a shrieking wave of sound slapping against my house.

Heath pushed up onto his knees. I sat up, craning my head.

“What was that?”


  1. I like that we jump in with an emotional make-out scene (yay for romance!) but unfortunately, I don't get a sense of the main character, the setting, or the voice from these paragraphs. I have node if the mc is a guy or a girl - if the mc is gender fluid, then 100% props to you for executing it well! If he/she isn't, I'd find a way to clarify that sooner.

    Also, we know she's on a roof, but is this in a modern day city, a fantasy world, is it potentially in outer space? Give us some context clues to help us understand the setting! :) That way, it adds background to the intense emotional scene happening (friends with benefits / friends to lovers is one of my favorite romantic arcs!)

    All of these are suggestions to improve! Well done on crafting the tense, emotional scene :D

  2. Lots of good physical details here-- showing details, so we get how the narrator feels.

    There are a few places where stronger verbs would help. For example "I let my fingers run across his cheek"--"let" isn't that strong.

    I also don't get a sense of time/place/location very clearly. This is labelled as Science Fiction- so is this near future? Way in the future? And are we in a city or out in the country?

    I did like the line "The sound of my own voice would make things too real." Nicely done.

  3. I agree with the above comments. I like the cool breeze/heat juxtaposition. I would take out "A shrieking wave of sound slapping against my house". You don't need it with the line "A loud screech cut through the air". (Pierced the night might work, too). Nice sexual tension! Good job!

  4. Beautiful sensory imagery!

    However, I agree with all of these other comments. Mostly: if this is sci-fi, I want it to feel sci-fi from the get go. This could be contemporary (making out, skin, rooftops, etc.). What is the hook that makes your story stand out? Can we get a sense of that in the opening?

    Also, careful of the prepositional phrase overdose: Heath asked me, sliding one hand across the skin on my waist under my shirt.

    How about: Heath asked me as his hand slid under my shirt.

  5. Just thought maybe I should drop a note that I should have labeled this Contemporary Science Fiction, in the vein of Stranger Things. I know that series was set in the 80's, but The Wizard is similar in that it's real-world and then things get weird quickly. I see now that the Genre label of Contemporary would have helped. Sorry to interject, and I thank you most kindly for all words of criticism, which are very much appreciated!

  6. The intimate way this opens is lovely, but I think it goes on a little too long. Just as I'm starting to sink into the romance, the story changes tone to suspense. Maybe tighten the beginning, with an eye to emphasizing that this is a normal occurrence for them. How long have they been FWB? Does it feel both normal and extraordinary?

    Since this is sci fi, I'd like to get a better sense of the weird noise. "The strange noise" is kind of vague. We know it's a screech/shriek, but what makes it unusual? What about it presages all the weird things that are to come? It's possible this noise isn't related, but at this point we don't know that.

    I think there's a missed opportunity at the end to show how these two kids feel about each other. The way they react will give us hints. Could Heath move to protect the narrator? Does s/he feel bereft when he pulls away? Are their hearts pounding from the making out, or the noise? Could it be someone's parent come to get them? Are they afraid of being caught or afraid of what's in the dark?

    This is a great opening scenario for building questions and suspense. I wouldn't change the what, just tweak the language. Good luck!

  7. An interesting opening. The relationship between the two characters is set up, and you jump into the action quickly.

    You could cut parg 3, as your mc is explaining things to the reader. Your characters live in their world and shouldn't be aware that a reader exists. Don't explain their relationship. Make it evident through dialogue and action.

    And perhaps describe the screech. Is it like someone hitting their brakes? The cry of a person or animal? Metal twisting? Give us something that hints at what it might be.

    You might also cut "I froze." And the parg after it, that way their reactions happen right after the screech rather than several moments after it. And it could be tightened a bit. Overall, thouģh, it gets the job done.

  8. "Friends in name but not in action" is a great line! I love that. I'd also like more knowledge of the screech, is it nazgul like? Hawk like? Give us a bit more.

    But great beginning!

  9. You've got some great lines in this opening piece. "Friends in name, but not action." "The sound of my own voice would make things too real." Nice sensory work, as well. I'm there with them.

    I, too, am confused about the gender of the narrator. That could be a conscious choice, but one thought I had was for Heath to say the characters name when he asks if they're cold. Just a thought.

  10. So so good. I love when we’re thrust right in the middle of the action! The imagery, that voice. Nailed it. I just need a little more description wise. What kind of screech are they hearing?

    I think my favorite line is “Heath and I were friends in name, but not in action.” This tells me so much and not enough all at the same time, definitely inciting curiosity.

    Thanks for entering!

  11. The intimacy between the two characters really drew me in, lots of sensory details. I like the friends in name only set-up and her reluctance to have their togetherness be too real.

    I also could use a few additional details about time and place, comments that would prevent the sudden shriek feel less unexpected, even though I know it's supposed to be. It just jarred me right out of the story.

    I get the idea that their meeting is not sanctioned (maybe a Romeo/Juliet kind of deal?), but perhaps they're putting themselves in more danger by their choice of location and/or timing? The risks they take will say a lot about themselves and their relationship.

    Keep it up, and best of luck!

  12. I agree a title like "The Wizard" and seeing this labeled as science fiction threw me off. I'm not sure I would know what to make of something labeled "contemporary science fiction". It seems a contradiction in terms to me. For whatever it's worth, I've also seen Stranger Things labeled as horror and supernatural as well as science fiction, so maybe one of those labels suits your book as well?

    As for the opening itself, I think you did a nice job getting into the protagonist's head, and there were a lot of strong sensory details. I'd love to see more of the character's voice coming through as they investigate the strange sound.

    Best of luck with this!