Thursday, August 7, 2014

Become an Agent #14

Title: The Guardian
Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Word Count: 86,000


Being the son of a business tycoon makes Baxton part of the elite and in the major metropolis of Camden, where whispers of political corruption are stoking the fires of revolution, the elite are being hunted like dogs. But unlike most, Baxton has something most can't afford; a guardian angel.

Ash, a well-trained soldier, dishonorably discharged but skilled none the less, is that angel. To the boy, he's an unnamed man who follows him in the shadows, on rooftops, or in nondescript cars, ready to take out anyone who threatens the boy's life. With such a guardian watching over him, Baxton lives a life devoid of the fear most young people his age live in and as long as he protects Baxton, his criminal record will stay hidden.

Both depend on each other in a strange and twisted symbiotic way, completely ignorant of the other who holds the success of failure of their fate. But when a rebel group shuts down the city, and a successful coup that would put the French Revolution to shame starts, both Baxton and Ash meet and must depend on each other if they want to make it out alive...and maybe discover a couple harrowing secrets about the city they live in, the rebels and worse of all, their connection to each other and the rebels along the way.

First 250:

The soirees the Waynes’ family threw, like clockwork on the third Saturday of the month four times a year were the talk of the town a few days before, and several days after. The guest list rarely changed drastically, but always subtracted or added a few people depending on Ms. Clara Wayne’s patience with certain people in the finance circle, and Mr. Wayne’s level of irritation towards those in the land developers’ field. To them, it was a perfect chance to spy on the competition without coming off as paranoid of conspicuous; cultured espionage, was the phrase they threw around with a perfect pitched, almost plastic chuckle. To seventeen-year-old Braxton Waynes, it was the perfect cover to blend in with the populous, slip out the side door, and meet his friends around the block, a celebration that was strong enough to dull the ache that came from handing over a freshly withdrawn stack of bills from his account and giving to the kitchen staff who would look the other way.

“Come home at a decent hour, won’t you, Mr. Waynes?” The snowman shaped chef who looked even more like a snowman with his white jacket—maybe more so a murderous one as he chopped the fried chicken with expert precision—asked. A jackal like smile on his lips cast a dark juxtaposition against the rhythmic and clean thump, thump, thump of the clever hitting the counter. “I’d prefer to not clean up your vomit again. Hiding your alcoholism weighs heavy on my Catholic consciousness.”


  1. I'm gonna say no, but only because I'm really confused about Highlander-ish "There can only be one" rule.

  2. No, but I love the premise! It sounds really cool, and you set up a strong conflict with high personal stakes.

    The main reason I'm saying no is because of the first 250. Some suggestions for improving it:

    Right now, some of the sentences are a bit long and rambly; try a tightening pass.

    The paragraphs are all the same length -- try breaking it up to emphasize key lines.

    Most of all, though, starting off with his coffee is not the most thrilling starting point. Your first line is really important -- maybe you could start with something about how sending those texts was a bad idea instead, and then establish the scene in the coffee house after that? That way, we get the dramatic tension up front, wondering what's up with the bad idea texts and how that's going to turn out.

    I think it really sounds like you have a cool premise and plot here (and I love to see LBGT heroes!). If you take the time to really polish up the writing, hopefully you can make it shine!

    Good luck!


  3. This was a close one for me. I like the concept, and I think you start the story in the right place (where there's some tension and things are going to start happening), but I thought the writing had a few bumps. The last sentence of the query has a lot crammed into it, and it's not very specific, so it doesn't hook me (i.e. "secrets hidden in the veil of time" is a cool phrase, but time is full of secrets, so what kind specifically--have these immortal beings been manipulating everything in history or something?) Then there are a few lines in the first 250 that read a little awkwardly for me: "Lamenting ... how" (maybe it should be "Lamenting ... that"?), and the sentence "It had no suggestiveness ..." seemed overly long and complex. Strengthen those spots a little and I think you've got a good pitch.

    No - 16

  4. You say Marcus can only tell one person. Well, killing off the other one doesn't change the fact that he told two people. Right there I'd stop reading if I were an agent. That's a big plot problem. If you said only one other person can know at one time, then it would make sense. But that's not what you said it was. Also, there are commas missing here and there.

    As for the 250, I found the sentences too long in general. I like a mix of long and short so it flows like waves. Too many long can drag on. Too many short feels choppy. so far, we have Braxton waiting. I'd like to see something more. More of a feeling of tension than what you've got. I'd have had to pee every five seconds just out of nervousness over what was about to happen, plus the coffee. I just didn't get enough tension or reason to go on here.

    No. (#11)

  5. I really loved the premise! But unfortunately, No. First, you accidentally switch names, referring to Braxton as Blake once, and referring to Markus as Maxwell. To me, that's a silly mistake that if you were reading carefully you would have fixed, and if I were an agent I'd stop reading due to sloppiness.

    I was definitely intrigued by the plot, and only a little confused about the "killing the first person he told" part--should change to "only one living person can know."

    The first 250: was okay, but nothing that pulled me in. Try to create more of a sense that Braxton is nervous and REALLY has a major crush on Markus. I'm assuming this is the part where he tells him about his crush, but not sure.

    Keep working--great idea! (#18)

  6. I like the premise, but with the rule that he can only tell one person, I'm sort of baffled. I know this is world building, and that sometimes it's hard to do. The problem is that it seems arbitrary. If they're immortal and they only get to tell one, there's a bit of pressure there. So maybe one per century or something.

    I'm afraid this is a No for me, but I think you can revise this into a yes. Your premise is strong, and I think the writing could be cleaned up to reflect.

    Good luck. (#20)
    Regardless, with that aspect of immortality declared in the query, I wonder how many other arbitrary rules are going to be thrown out there. So maybe explain it (or not, it's all personal opinion).

    I felt like the first 250 could have been stronger. The words didn't flow together the way I like, so read it out loud. Look for words that are redundant and concepts that are repeated--especially when repeated in the same sentence!

  7. Query:

    Interesting premise. It was a little cumbersome though language/plot wise.

    I love the concept of this line: "If Markus didn’t like him, he could have just said it, instead of coming up with an excuse as farfetched as ‘I’ve been around for over 300 years and it’s not safe’."

    However, I think you need to tighten it up and find a way to make the sentence in your query.

    As for the 250 words:
    You use a form of the word "water" twice in the first paragraph to describe same thing, and 20th should be spelled out.

    LOVED the Billy Joel visual. Totally.

    No (#13) GOOD LUCK THOUGH!

  8. Hey guys! The author has asked for their entry to be swapped with another of their manuscripts. The voting from now on will be on this new manuscript, and there will be no need for the already-given critiquers to re-critique.

  9. I love the premise in your query. It sounds like an interesting story you have going on there, but I'm going to say no because of the 250 words. i think this is just my personal preference. The story sounds a bit detached to me when I read it. This part I think you need to split them up into two sentences rather than one because it's too long imo and sounds a bit waffly when I read them:

    To seventeen-year-old Braxton Waynes, it was the perfect cover to blend in with the populous, slip out the side door, and meet his friends around the block, a celebration that was strong enough to dull the ache that came from handing over a freshly withdrawn stack of bills from his account and giving to the kitchen staff who would look the other way.

  10. oh forgot, I'm No #15

  11. This is where you see the subjectivity - guardian angels just don't appeal to me, so I'd say no for that reason. It has nothing to do with the query or the writing. Other people would probably love it.

    The first paragraph is way too long, and it reads like an info dump. My eyes stared glazing over. White space is your friend, especially at the beginning. I also don't really like the lengthy description in the middle of the text. I just don't know enough about the main character to know why I should care about him or to make me want to keep reading.

    I'd have to say no.

  12. I have to admit. I was confused by the query. It all started to sound more like fantasy than a thriller. I kept looking back to the Thriller but couldn't shake the feeling. Perhaps I was taking it a bit too literally. On the writing front, the first 250 is dense and the punctuation on the Waynes kept changing. Is it Waynes or Wayne? The first line has Waynes' but then it's Ms. Clara Wayne's and Mr. Wayne's. That distracted me to no end.

    No. (#19)

  13. Hi, it's a no from this audience member. I wasn't really intrigued by the plot, and then the 250 seemed to be all telling with rather long sentences. Also, I didn't understand whether Braxton knows Ash or not. I thought they knew each other from the first couple paragraphs, but then you write that they "meet," which threw me.

  14. The query started off strong -- I liked the idea that guardian angels work for pay, but the over-long sentences became hard to follow. A few side notes -- 'nonetheless' instead of 'none the less'. Also, suggest cutting the 2nd use of 'the boy' in the 2nd sentence of the 2nd paragraph and substitute I 'his' instead. Also suggest rejigging the final sentence in the same paragraph to avoid using 'Baxton lives' and 'his age live' in the such close proximity. Suggest dividing the following into two sentences: 'With such a...young people. (his age live in and) As long as (he) Ash protects Baxton, his...hidden.' Unfortunately, the opening line of the 3rd paragraph stopped me. How can Ash and Baxton both be 'ignorant of the other'? If Ash's job is to constantly shadow Baxton, he must be aware of the boy. I'd also like some clue as to why Baxton thinks he's safe to travel the city if he's unaware of his Guardian Angel. The last sentence of the query also needs to be broken into smaller chunks. In the first 250, I also thought the sentences needed trimming and simplifying to lure the reader into this world. Sorry, but a No here. (#9)

  15. Previous entry I would have said No to for reasons already given in earlier comments.

    For this entry; some minor grammar issues. First sentence in third paragraph doesn't make sense; how would they be in a professional relationship while unaware of each other at the same time? Last line last paragraph not sure how discovering their connection with one another and how it relates to the rebels is a "worse of all" situation, and why is not conveyed enough for me to care about the consequences. Good name for the MC but "Waynes" for the family pulls me out of the story because Batman.

    The first 250 words also feel too much like an "as you know" as well, rather than just putting me right into the MC's situation, and is too much text; my ADD brain ends up glancing away halfway through. Perhaps trimming out infodump to sew it into narrative later would help make the beginning more tight.

    Overall the story doesn't seem to give me any reason to care about the MC, and that's really important for making me want to read more.

    No. (#5)