Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #19

GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

“It’s okay sweetie, I know you’re nervous.” She squeezed my hand before placing hers back on the steering wheel.

Nervous didn’t begin to cover it. Our windows were tinted as dark as legally allowed to hide me from view of humans. I normally stayed holed up in our small house in Norway and wore a bunch of layers if we had to drive somewhere. I couldn’t wait to learn how to mask my appearance for the humans. I couldn’t wait to learn magic period.

Not having my magic yet, and the fact that I’d never been away from home, or away from my mom, was dampening my excitement. Oh, and the fact that I had zero friends, but I was hoping that was all about to change. In just a few minutes I could breathe the sweet scent of freedom instead of the stuffy air of my house, and I’d be with others like me.

“Okay,” my mom said, interrupting my thoughts, “I’m going to need some help. I see a long building, with rust and mold covering it, and a rusted fence with barbed wire enclosing it, and a Private Property sign. But this is the location, right?”

I gaped at her, a small smile forming, and turned back to the scene before us. “Yes. There is a long building, an old strip mall I think. But none of that other stuff. There are about twenty warlocks standing around and a line of cars dropping warlocks and luggage off.”


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  2. I like how we're thrown straight into the action and that some questions immediately comes up, like why does she have to hide from humans? Why doesn't she have her magic yet, and is this normal/abnormal? And most of all, where are they going? I want to keep reading to figure this out!

    In the very first sentence though, I'd probably say the name of the character or at least "my mom/mother" instead of "she", since this is the very first time we meet any of these characters.

  3. You definitely piqued my interest early on which is fantastic! I can really imagine this young girl is hiding in the back seat as her mom drives her. However, I feel like your sentence should be more of the second paragraph. Something along the lines of "After spending years hiding in my stuffy house, I was minutes away from finally breath the sweet scent of fresh air." Really hit it home from the start that this is a BIG day. It wouldn't hurt to establish your character's age and is she a boy or girl too. Maybe slip in what grade she'll be starting or how she's excited to be friends with other 16 year old boys/girls)

  4. I love all the questions that are brought up when reading this, it definitely makes me want to keep reading to find out more! I also love that this is set in Norway?!

    What if you started with the warlock part, and then had her mom grab her hand? I’d love to know their name, and agree with Christine about having the mom say her name!


  5. I’m very intrigued as to what our main character is and why they’re going to learn magic!
    Maybe say “My mom” instead of “she squeezed my hand” since this is the first time the audience is introduced to the character.
    I was also confused by the mom saying “I see a long building…” Is one or the other visually impaired/do they have some sort of seeing-related special power?

  6. Real quick, I feel like the "she" in the first paragraph needs to be identified as her mother.

    I like how the words "to normally hide me from humans" sets the tone of the MC being other than, even though I don't quite know what that is yet.

    I do think it's kind of a lot of exposition in the second and third paragraphs. I'm not invested enough yet I think? I don't really know anything about her yet. I don't even know if it is a "her" really. And you say she's nervous, but what does that look like on her?

    But seriously, the premise is exciting! She's going to learn magic, breathe freedom. And the idea of twenty waiting warlocks is so intriguing. I want to know why she has to hide, why she doesn't have her magic yet, what the warlocks are going to do when she gets there... I want to know more!

  7. I like the beginning, but the “she” needs to be clarified right from the start. It stops the flow for me. I love the second and third paragraphs. It’s an interesting concept which has me wondering what will happen to her.

  8. I have so many questions! :)

    Great premise and it draws me in. Maybe this could be your opening line instead of the dialogue, "Our windows were tinted as dark as legally allowed to hide me from view of humans." I just love this line!!

  9. There is so much here. I want to know everything about your world and your main character. What kind of magic does he/she have? Is his/her family magical? It's great that within these 250 words, we immediately know the set up for the story. The MC has magic powers, and she's going to learn how to use them throughout the book.

    One thing you may want to be careful about is making sure your voice doesn't seem too young. I'm currently picturing your MC being 13, which could be a bit young for YA. That said, it's difficult to tell too much about the character's age in just 250 words, so it may come across older in subsequent pages, if not paragraphs.

    Overall, I think you're setting up for a super fun story, and I want to learn more about your world!

  10. I love this so much! Title, the whole question of what the narrator looks like/why she needs to be hidden, why she can't do magic yet, where she's going to learn magic, why her mom can't see the property - is it because she doesn't have magic like her daughter? I agree with identifying the speaker as the narrator's mom in the first paragraph and perhaps changing it so the first line is narration, not dialogue - it can be tricky to start with dialogue since we don't care about any of the characters yet. (But by the end I'm certainly on my way.) This sounds like a wonderful story, though, and I'd be thrilled to keep reading!

  11. Interesting set up. I found the last 2 paragraphs confusing because they are describing things to each other but they are both there seeing the same things aren't they?

    It might be interesting depending on what's actually at stake here

  12. I agree with the she/mom situation. Go with mom.

    I'm also wondering about how mom is seeing the building. Does she have bad eyesight? Is she seeing it from afar, like remote viewing, and it isn't coming in so clear? Or are they there at the building?

    I'm wondering what she looks like if she isn't human. And witches and warlocks generally do look human, so I'm wondering why she's different.

    I'm wondering how old she is, and if she's male or female. She sounds female, but there seems to be only warlocks at this place, so perhaps the MC is male.

    Perhaps consider reworking this with an eye towards more clarity.

  13. I like how this starts with the protagonist hiding in the back seat and your clever way of letting us know he/she isn't "human"--good work-- you've piqued my interest.

    I agree with the other comments about opening with dialogue-- maybe start with "Mo squeezed my hand. "I know you"re nervous..."

    I also got confused by the difference between how the narrator sees the place and how her mom does. It's as if the narrator has a different and of sight. Maybe give this a name or have the narrator think about using this ability before she describes what she sees. It would help clarify this difference.

    This is an intriguing start and I'd keep reading to find out more.

  14. I think you might be doing a bit too much telling and not quite enough showing. Trust your reader to stay with you long enough to learn about our character. You don’t need to show all your cards in the first hundred words. Try writing a few different versions of this intro where you let us feel her nerves without telling us why she’s nervous.

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