Wednesday, February 11, 2009

57 Secret Agent


"Your father has been swallowed by the god of this place."

Victoria Glenn glanced incredulously at her pilot then focused her binoculars on the narrow green valley below. "Does the local god fancy human meals?"

Their tiny plane quivered as a wind current caught it and pushed it toward the jagged mountainside. Juan Mueller fought the control yoke. The plane steadied.

"The Laughing God guards these mountains like a mother her young. He may laugh with you or at you. He is a god with two faces."

"If he has swallowed my father and is a just god, he'll spit him back out. My father is a good man."

“These mountains are a maze and as secret as a woman's heart. If you know them not, you may never come out. Bands of guerrillas are said to hide here and kill the unwary.”

The engine coughed. Juan swore and tapped at the fuel gauge.

Straightening, she dropped the binoculars onto her lap. "What's wrong?"

Sweat shone across her pilot’s plain Germanic face. "We should have half a tank, but it is gone. We must land here."

She stared down at the sharp rocks and the narrow ribbon of valley. Her voice shook despite her best effort. "There is no here."

The engine coughed again. "Mary, Mother of God, protect us. And the Laughing God turn his kind face upon us."

The plane stalled and began to fall.

Victoria closed her eyes as the mountains hurled toward them.


  1. Starting with dialogue is tough, but opening handled it well. I love Victoria's touch of wry humor.

    I expected a little more physical reaction from her as she starts to hurtle to a fiery death at the end.

    Overall, an interesting start that promises a great adventure.

  2. The plane crashing is a great hook. I agree that starting with dialogue is difficult. It has to be perfect and it's something that agents are going to have a bias against (I think), so you might want to consider starting with something else. Also, I was confused about the pilot's "Germanic face." It doesn't sound like they're in Germany and his name is Juan, but I could just be a little dense. Still, something to consider.

    Love the voice of your MC though and the stuff about the God swallowing her dad. Good luck!

  3. I like this. I has action, some big story questions (what happened to her dad, why is she there, Holy crap the plane is going to crash...) And I like the voice.

    I would keep reading.

  4. Love the voice and I would read more.

    My humble suggestion on the opening: less dialogue. Usually, what can be said between two characters can often be put into a non-dialogue paragraph. While the dialogue gives a sense of the characters, a descriptive paragraph can sometimes have more impact (sorry, no pun intended on that one). Again, this is just my opinion. The opening is well written and I did get a 'sense' of the characters. Well done.

  5. Hey, I loved your opening line. However, it implied humor when there didn't seem to be anymore playful banter between them. Juan (spanish name, not German) seems as stoic as an Indiana Jones native. Not the kind who would joke. Also, I took it literally. Probably because I read fantasy and didn't look at your genre. Oops! Your cliffhanger is great. I would continue to read.

  6. *glares on behalf of author at the T invasion in genre*

    Ah... I remember this one. Still hooked.<:

  7. Interesting beginning...I'm actually more interested in why her father has gone missing than I am in the fact that the plane is going down. Since this is page 1, I'm already assuming that our protag will survive the plunge. ;)

    Why does a pilot named "Juan" have a "Germanic" face?

    I would encourage you to read your dialogue out loud. It's a bit cumbersome in places, and I think you'll hear that if you listen to your own voice reading it. A little streamlining will add to the tension of this scene.

  8. I imagine someone named "Juan Mueller" would have a Latin mother and a German father.

    Victoria sounds English, and Juan speaks English like it is a second language so I have no problem with the dialogue.

    Nothing else to add. It's a nice opening.

  9. I think the flow in the dialog would be helped if you used contractions – much more natural.

    it's, If he's swallowed,etc. Also should it be the Laughing God turns his kind face?

    I also try to lose words like "began"

    Maybe The plane stalled and dipped lower and then describe how they feel. Stomachs would drop. Perhaps nausea? A cold sweat?

  10. Great beginning- the dialogue felt a tad awkward though. But good job introducing two conflicts right away. If I were into romance, I would read on.

  11. Yes, I think I agree with some others here. Nice opening. But the dialogue felt choppy. Though I think that's just because you have the difficult job of having two people with accents. Still, you have to make it smooth, or it'll slow the reading. Have you tried reading it out loud to see where the awkward parts are? Hope this helps and good luck! I feel an Indiana-Jones-type adventure coming on!

  12. Lots of action, right in the beginning! But the dialogue felt very stiff and stilted to me--not natural or easy between two people who (I don't think) are enemies. Plus, I also think a bit more description here would help set the scene--what the characters look like, or even what the mountain scape looks like.

  13. I'm guessing that her father is lost somewhere below and they're looking for him. If that's the case, I like the opening. Love the hook of the plane going down, so I'm hooked.

    i agree about the dialogue though. It reads wierd in places.

  14. I like the beginning. I agree with others that the dialog is a bit stiff, especially when Victoria knows the plane is going down. I don't think she's say, "There is no here." Maybe something like, "On these jagged rocks?"

    Also, when the plane begins going down, you have a perfect place to put in some real drama. Did the engine choke? Did they grab hands? What about the sudden feeling of being in free-fall? Are they spinning? Can they see the huge tree trunks they're slamming towards? You've got all kinds of potential here.

    With a little treaking, you have a a great beginning. I love the idea of the Laughing God.

    Keyboard Hound

  15. I like the image of a god laughing with or at, a Janus of the mountains.

    Like some readers, I was initially thrown by Juan's "Germanic face" but then went back to see that his last name was Mueller. Maybe you could bring that description in later, if it's important? You don't want to detract from the drama of the missing gas and impending crash landing.

  16. Loved the first line.
    Is Juan German?
    I'd work on the dialogue a little, but other than that, I'd turn the page to find out what's going to happen. :)

  17. I loved the potential humor in their dialogue, even though this is a tense scene toward the end. That was the biggest hook for me.

    I felt like the dialogue was barebones. No dialogue tags (I wasn't always sure who was talking), no actions beats or thoughts or bits of vivid description to draw me in to your character. She wasn't quite 3D for me.

    The humor and her potential adventure will be a great hook with some rewriting.

  18. Interesting beginning...I'm actually more interested in why her father has gone missing than I am in the fact that the plane is going down.I'm with Authoress...
    Though I have to say, I'm not really hooked. The set-up is interesting, but for me, the writing isn't terribly so.
    I think if it felt like you were actually IN someone's POV, it might help--but that's only my 2 cents.

  19. I think I'd be more hooked if we had more of the MC's thoughts. That would bring it to life vs. seeing her from the outside - trying to keep her voice steady, closing her eyes, etc. What does she think of the fact that her father's been swallowed - stuff like that would make it more lively for me.

  20. I'm hooked, I really would turn the page. Everything that could be addressed has been, I just wanted to share my opinion. Oh and the part about the plane dropping, I'd imagine Victoria was not only squeezing her eyes shut, but gripping the armrests, and feeling nauseous.

  21. Not hooked. Sorry! This writer just needs some good criquing to master the craft.

    Juan just sounds strange rather than native and enigmatic. It doesn't seem to help the story although it's clear that the writer wants the legend of the mountain to play some kind of role.

    The plane forced landing strikes me as faux conflict rather than a crucial start to the story. The main character also seems remarkably calm for what is about to unfold.