Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Secret Agent Contest #26

TITLE: Banished
GENRE: YA Fantasy

I stare at my reflection, noting how the anger simmers just below the mask of my indifference. I grimace and try to dampen down. I will need to add extra whorls today, a distraction I hope. When the minders get a look at my face this morning I want them to see arrogance and disdain in my embellished tattoo… not the expression of someone fighting for control. My sixteenth birthday isn’t here yet, I reminded myself. Today is not my day to die.

I stab the metal tip of the ink scribe into the small black glass bottle. The red ink is the most expensive as it comes from the roots of the rubia plant, known for it’s finicky growing needs. It had cost me nearly two weeks worth of lunch credits, but it is well worth it. The deep crimson color stands out like fresh blood. I tap the edge of the bottle to remove excess ink and proceed to add extra whorls to my tat, pulling the design up past my eyebrow and nearly into the hairline. I watch, always fascinated, as the metal tip of the ink stylus gently scours my flesh, drawing tiny beads of blood that mix neatly with the color of the ink. I am one of the few that don’t try to hid the stamp of shame society has placed on us, I flaunt the mark, make it my own.


  1. You've got some great, dark details here. That it's not the MC's 16th birthday and thus is not her day to die is a zinger, but I'm afraid it gets buried.

    Describing characters by having them look in a mirror is rather cliche, and I would discourage you from starting this way. Can you begin with some sort of action instead? Maybe open with the MC facing the minders. What kind of interaction happens? Highlight that "Today is not my day to die" so it can have maximum impact.

  2. This is a super cool start and a really unique concept. I love that we’re getting a layered character who, we knows right away, has lots to hide - and who’s life depends on it. Great stakes!

  3. I agree with Noodle Soup about not having your MC looking into a mirror. I think your second paragraph could actually work as your first, with your hook being, 'I stab the metal tip of the ink scribe into the small glass bottle.'
    You have great details here and clearly, there's a lot at stake. I would definitely read further.

  4. To piggy-back on Susan (since I already want to read more), if you start with the metal pen and red blood ink, it might give you room to weave in a few small details about the tattoo, like what shape she adds the whorls to, what the existing shape(s) signify, if adding to it is commonplace and why.

    I have a pretty solid feel for the MC (a strong captive, but captive only in body, definitely not in spirit), but want a little more of a hint about the stigma she lives with.

  5. Do we know this is a female MC? I feel like I've missed that! I do like the darkness and the MC's willingness to stand out and defy. I'm a huge tattoo fan (have four of my own!), and I like envisioning adding 'whorls'. I'd definitely keep reading...and hopefully find out soon more about the character! Thanks!