Thursday, October 16, 2008

8 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Ronai

GENRE: Adult Historical Fantasy

Liu Bei raced into the peach orchard after his son.

The moon’s full, bony face lit their path and the smell of autumn and sour wine rose from slippery peaches beneath Bei’s feet. Leaves chattered on branches, sounding like a shallow stream. Like the river that brings the dead to hell. Did his ghosts crowd him now?

“Quick, Papa! Someone's lying on the ground!” Shan gestured ahead.

Bei’s robes slapped against his legs. Hurry, hurry!

Each cold breath was a visible, white dash before he reached the garden. At last, Bei slid to his knees.

Moonlight dappled the hollow cheeks and blue lips of an emaciated teenage boy. Bei put his ear to the boy’s chest and heard unsure air squeaking from the child’s lips.

“Shan, he’s alive. Run and beg the innkeeper for hot water. I’ll follow you.”

Shan sprinted toward the inn.

Liu Bei cradled the child and ran as memories burst in upon him.

Twelve years ago he’d heard the river of the dead. He looked at the bony child in his arms, but didn't see him.

Bei saw Jiao and Jun – his sons. Their eyes were open and clear in the moonlight. Clear and accusing.

“Why did you fail us, Papa?”

He sobbed. They had not asked him that in a long time. He thought they’d forgiven him. Maybe they had, but he couldn’t. He’d promised his wife he’d try. But Liu Bei lived in his past with his guilt and two dead children.


  1. ooo- Lots of potential here, but I don't think it's as perfect as it could be. The description is beautiful, but there are several very passive phrases, and the last sentence is a POV break and telling of the worst kind.

    On one hand, there is a genre and market for this in the stores. I see published stories like this. But, personally, I'd like this to be a little more active and a little more in the moment.

  2. Loved it. I'd read on. Lots of conflict, urgency, and emotion.

    Very nice.

  3. I'm slightly confused as to what's going on. Your descriptions are fantastic and tension is very apparent, but my confusion would keep me from reading on

  4. I feel it's almost there. I love the lyrical language and the immediate conflict presented, but I think a few more firmer details might help set this in your readers' minds a bit more clearly. I'd probably read on a bit more, though.

  5. I'm hooked. The polish put on this from the last time I saw it really makes it shine for me. I'd definitely keep reading.

  6. Some beautiful writing here. You made Bei's grief come alive for me. I'm curious if the emaciated boy relates to Bei's lost sons. I love the improvements and clarifications you've made since its last incarnation. Yes, I'd keep reading.

  7. You have a knack for description, but I think there was too much of it here. IMO, it detracted from the hook that is there.
    I'd suggest to lose some of the description. Show off these skills after you've firmly hooked your readers.
    I'd read on.

  8. Great description and a clarity of events that was lacking before. This has a good level of conflict and tension, I'd read on.

  9. Lovely wording here. I like.

  10. i really liked this. I'm not sure if I'd read on, but that's only because it's not a genre I read. Great job!
    PS. did you submit this in a previous secret agent contest? If it's the one I'm thinking of, you did a really good job revising!

  11. I very much like this. It does still need some work, but I think it's a matter of tightening and tinkering rather than having to adjust the concept. It's very evocative, and I loved the opening lines. If you can ratchet up the clarity, consider me hooked.

  12. Yes, I did enter this into a previous competition. I noticed many of us have competed against one another before. We have all improved with time. :) Thank you all for the comments. Back to the keyboard!

  13. I liked everything up until the last paragraph, which felt melodramatic and overdone. It'd depend on the blurb for me, but I'd read on for a bit. :)