Thursday, October 16, 2008

44 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: The Broken Line
GENRE: Urban fantasy

I am a man of reason; I always have been. I believe in what I can see and touch, and for most of my adult life, my religion has been confined to guns and steel. They are the only things that have never failed me.

I placed the pistol on my kitchen counter, the bullet still chambered, knowing it would await my return. Unless I found the resolve to blow my head off in the next sixty seconds, I needed to get going. I had an appointment to keep.

The autumn air was crisp, so I pulled on my jacket and headed up Fifth Avenue toward the University. During excursions such as these, I hoped that I would be waylaid by a group of thugs or a fool bent on thievery; I missed the challenge of real battle, the intimacy of flesh crashing into flesh.

But no one ever bothered me.

I resigned myself to studying the buildings that hunched together along the street. Thick black power cables snaked in and out of crumbling brick apartments like intravenous lines, and tree roots warped the sidewalk into a disjointed series of stepping-stones.

It was already clear that I couldn't live the way I had on Tresyllian; I couldn't expect anyone to pay me in room and board while I hunted down murderers, rapists, and renegade magic-users with a broadsword. Hell, I couldn't expect anyone to even believe that was how I'd lived for the last five years. I needed a dependable income, a bank account, credit cards, transportation, and identification.


  1. I have a mixed reaction. I am drawn in, but the line that really grabs me comes futher down on the page: "It was already clear that I couldn't live the way I had on Tresyllian; I couldn't expect anyone to pay me in room and board while I hunted down murderers, rapists, and renegade magic-users with a broadsword." The first half of the line in particular really grabs me.

  2. Hooked. I love the first line.
    It isn’t until much further in I get that he's a suicidal vigilante carrying a sword, his last address a place with a name that has a similar start as Dracula’s, and the wonder if this is yet another clichéd story line flickers a neuron, but I'd not put this down. The clean, precise writing, the anticipation of wanting a fight but sigh, not getting one, like I said, I'd buy this without reading further and put in on top of my to read stack. Great job.

  3. This really drew me in. I like how you tell me the season seamlessly, how in the second sentence you set me up for this guy to be something different (the guns and steel being his religion things was great.). I think my favorite part was that he needed identification. Very mysterious. Great job!

  4. I didn't like the first paragraph that much, but the second one grabbed me--and deciding to keep an appointment because he (I think it's a he) couldn't work up the resolve to kill himself is incredible--it suggests a character that is amazingly self-aware, and who doesn't take himself too seriously--I like.

    I got slightly--ever so slightly-- thrown off by the mention of Tresyllian and what follows. It just seemed to come from nowhere, and was a bit overwhelming.

  5. Strong sure voice drew me right in. This is a character and situation I want to know more about. Merliniana

  6. I enjoyed reading this and might continue to read. I say might because the past tense usage threw me off. It started out present tense "I am . . . I believe" but then "I placed . . . I had . . . etc. I had trouble getting involved and feel present tense would draw the reader in better.

    It only needs a few word changes to bring it to present tense, "I put the pistol . . . I have an appointment . . . etc."

    Also, tighten things a bit by cutting unnecessary words. For example, "During these excursions I hoped to be waylaid by a group of thugs . . ."

    Is there any way to write it in present tense or is this a prologue or something and needs the past tense?

    I do like the character and am interested in reading more. He seems tough yet depressed (wants to blow his head off) and I wonder what drives him and what his appointment is.

  7. I'm hooked. Intriguing character. Well done.

  8. Your voice/characterization is fantastic, but the writing needs to be tightened.

    The transition between the first and second paragraphs feels clunky.

    I would also suggest finding ways aroun using the word "was" so many times. It's a strong indication of passive voice.

    Instead of "The autumn air was crisp" -- which is telling, show us that the autumn air is crisp.

    "Thick, black power cables snaked in and out of crumbling brick apartments" -- love the use of "snaked".

    Good job.

    I'd read more because of the strong sense of person here.

  9. I'm of two minds on this one- frankly, I am hooked by the set up. There is literally a loaded gun on this first page, with a main character not afraid to whip it out and use it. My one sticking point is that I don't love the word usage. Something about it seems a little stilted and old fashioned, but I think the author can address that if they try to consciously simplify their style. Also, another positive, I know this is an urban fantasy right away; I don't have to wait to figure out that this world is unusual.

  10. It took me a couple reads to understand why he couldn't live the same way he had on Tresyllian. The line about blowing his head off seemed out of character. However the voice was strong and I did want to read on.

  11. Your first two sentences had me. Really, really good.

    I found a few extra words in there (a couple of "thats" and an "it" that could go, IMHO). There's also a split infinitive ("to even believe"), but overall, I think the voice, the characterization (particularly the self-awareness) and the setting are intriguing. :-)

  12. I'm hooked. Love the atmosphere and the voice.

  13. I love the setup. Intriguing character and evocative descriptions. I like the idea of the protagonist needing to pull together a "normal" life with a car and bank account. That said, the opening isn't fast and it's a bit steeped with an older, gangster era feel even though you talk about credit cards. If that's the mood you want, good job. I actually like the somber air. I do think it might be a hindrance to readers used to more modern sounding urban fantasies. I'd keep reading! I love the title and character you're describing.

  14. Hmm. Nothing much seems to happen and it's a little wordy, and yet I find myself drawn in by the quiet voice. If the blurb were promising, I'd give this one a go.

  15. I really liked the voice and the set up, but I think something stronger needs to happen here to fully hook me, rather than the character just thinking to himself. Start at the appointment--the action--and the rest can come in later.

  16. "Unless I found the resolve to blow my head off in the next sixty seconds, I needed to get going. I had an appointment to keep."

    I was hooked from this point on.

    What a terrific start!

  17. Torn... I really want to love this, but the language is tripping me up. And the opening lines remind me almost to much of the Dresden Files. Harry has a similar line about religion that Butcher uses whenever Harry puts his pentacle on.

    Thinking of Dresden and reading this I started picturing Harry's paladin buddy with his own series. Which isn't bad, but it may not be what you want. You've got to work hard to make this as unique as possible.

  18. I think I could like this; I can't say I'm entirely hooked yet, something I can't identity doesn't "click" for me, but I'm interested enough I might read on for a bit.

    Good luck,