Thursday, November 13, 2008

2 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: And You Shall Find
GENRE: Fantasy


Thunder crashed overhead and Annie jumped. She set down her paring knife and a half-sliced apple and stuck her head out the kitchen door.

A wall of rain pelted her. Mud bubbled around her doorstep. Shielding her face with one hand, she peered up the street through the late-afternoon gloom.

Everyone’s Carnival decorations were soggy. The blacksmith had stuffed several scarecrows to look like Redeemers and the first grateful survivors of the Last War—they were all bent at unnatural angles now. The beautiful painting across the front of the inn of Matthew, the First Redeemer, resembled a stick of beef jerky. Annie knew it wasn’t respectful to be amused at the Redeemers, but a snicker escaped her as Harris’s wife ran outside with bedsheets and nails to cover her masterpiece.

A flash of lightning illuminated the plain stone cathedral in the distance. Redeemers didn’t decorate for Carnival. That was everyone else’s job, of course: simply saying “Thank you” didn’t begin to cover what everyone owed them. So every shop in every town along the Smoky River transformed itself into one big, elaborate “Thank you.”

The wind snatched up Annie’s dress and she slapped it to her legs. Too bad Matthew hadn’t waited till summer to save the world. The weather would’ve been more cooperative.

Stop that. You know better than to get flippant about the Redeemers.

More lightning. Jacob’s handsome secretary had the right idea: he was pinning up their banner on the inside of the shop’s center window.

21 comments:

Sarah Erber said...

Usually, I like dialogue on the first page, but this is very good storytelling.

I want to read more!

However, I do have one suggestion. In your opening paragraph,"She set down her paring knife and a half-sliced apple and stuck her head out the kitchen door.
A wall of rain pelted her."

I would change this to, "She set down her paring knife and a half-sliced apple. Sticking her head out the kitchen door, a wall of rain pelted her."

I think that would "flow" a bit better.

Wonderful story! Keep it up!

Sponge said...

I'm not sure... I want to say yes because your character and setting sounds right and I'm curious what's going on. But I'm not sure if there is enough clear information here for a solid hook.

Marilynn Byerly said...

Starting with weather is always a poor hook.

I get no sense of why this moment in time is so important to the story.

What is the conflict?

The Redeemers and Matthew do sound interesting, though.

Karen Duvall said...

You already know my feelings about opening a story with the weather :-). But Sarah is right, this is great storytelling and really pulls me in because I want to know more about the Redeemers. The best stories always raise questions on the first page, and this one does just that. Excellent job!

Windsong said...

I really like your voice so I would be hooked enough to read on. The biggest thing that stuck out at me was that some of the weather descriptions didn't fit together well--in my opinion.

For example:
A wall of water, to me, would maybe drench or crash into someone/thing, but not pelt. Pelt would be heavy rain. Wall of water is heavy rain squared. ;)

Ella said...

I'm hooked. The only thing I'd change is the first sentence.

Thunder crashed overhead and Annie jumped.

Annie jumped as the sound of thunder exploded overhead.

Christy said...

This one didn't hook me until I came to this line.

"Too bad Matthew hadn’t waited till summer to save the world. The weather would’ve been more cooperative."

Love the voice there, could you strat with it?

carnation said...

Ooh, christy, I could. I never thought of that. Thank you!

ChristaCarol said...

Christy's advice is great. I totally agree it would be a much better hook. Maybe have her go into the thinking about the Carnival, Redeemer's, etc and then have the lightning crash and her head out to inspect or something?

Overall I enjoy the writing and the voice, but agree it could still be worked on hook wise.

AC said...

It's good storytelling; I'd read more.

Andie Knight said...

I'm definitely wondering what the Redeemers did to save them.

Also, the bubbling mud is a great visual.

Sally Apokedak said...

I like this one very much. I agree with the suggestion to change the first line, though.

Christy said...

Carnation,

Glad I could help. It's always easier to pick out what works in someone else's work. Wish I had the same clarity with my own stuff!

susaninvt said...

I agree with changing the first line. I'm an avid fantasy reader so it takes a lot to hook me. I like your voice, but I wasn't interested until "Too bad Matthew hadn’t waited till summer to save the world. The weather would’ve been more cooperative." I think a lot would depend upon the next pages to say if I'm hooked...

Serenissima said...

Add my vote to changing the first line. Although I'm pretty hooked, I would've found this piece stronger if the language flowed more smoothly - e.g., the two 'ands' in the first line didn't sound right. One way to find bumps in the prose is to read it aloud. But the storyline is good and that's the hard part.

Lori said...

I like the ending paragraphs, with the "waiting so long to save the world" comment, but I had to wonder why the unnamed narrator is standing out in the wind, rain, and mud just to describe the town to us.

alice said...

lori--I named her in the first sentence. :) I hate unnamed narrators myself. And she's sticking her head out the kitchen door, with a hand blocking the rain, to check things out.

But I see that I do indeed need to rework this page. Thanks. :)

alice/carnation said...

Bah. Forgot to post using my screen name. Serves me right for typing pre-coffee.

Scribess said...

Here's what I liked the most out of the 250:

The wind snatched up Annie’s dress and she slapped it to her legs. Too bad Matthew hadn’t waited till summer to save the world. The weather would’ve been more cooperative.

I think this would make for a stronger opener than what's there now. And if you went into it a little deeper, at least giving me hints of how Matthew saved the world, rather than the detail about the weather, I'd probably read on.

The prose is very tight, however, and I can definitely see everything very clearly.

Secret Agent said...

This is really tight and clean, nicely done. I would love to read more of this.

kimmirich said...

More!! Weather and all! I know what makes me read further and there is a strong writing voice here! Great visuals!