Wednesday, September 9, 2009

24 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Forgotten Slayer
GENRE: Middle Grade Paranormal

Huddled beneath the large oak, Jack watched a mother drag her two toddlers under an umbrella and march them off the Green.

There was no one else around.

Other side the dirty pond and bird-pooped fountain, Will’s bedroom light still burned, now a yellow blur through the pelting rain. Jack was just considering going over after all to waste some hours, when a solid shadow cut right in front of him. He jumped back, blood pounding between his ears, but there was nothing to be scared of.

It was only an old man, closer to ancient, his stooped form buried beneath a cloak every bit as dark and grey as the gloomy twilight, making him practically invisible until the last moment. His skin was pasty, his cheeks gaunt, his eyes pale and tired. A handful of silver hairs sprouted from the wrinkles on his liver-spotted head. The most dangerous thing about the man was his body odour. He smelled rank, as if he’d been walking in the rain for months.

And what was it about old people and personal space? There was a whole oak for the man to take cover under. Feeling a little foolish and a whole lot irritable, Jack stepped away and hit tree trunk.


His brother Eric had spent his thirteenth birthday at Edinburgh Castle, and Jack got to spend his stuck between an old man and a tree. He should have been in Edinburgh. If you were born into the Bracken family, that’s where you celebrated your thirteenth birthday.


  1. Okay, there are some good images here, some good sentences. Those make me think that you can make this better. As it is, there are too many unnecessary words. ("It was only an old man, closer to ancient, his stooped form buried beneath a cloak every bit as dark and grey as the gloomy twilight, making him practically invisible until the last moment." could become "It was an old man, an ancient man, buried under a cloak as dark and grey as the twilight. It made him all but invisible."

    Also, the nicely rainy, gloomy start doesn't mesh with the somewhat petulant last paragraph. I'm not a fan of the last sentence either. Although until then I was actually enjoying the scene.

    Stay in the now and I would probably read on to find out more about the cloaked man.

  2. I got a bit lost with all the people here - Jack, Will, Eric, the old man - and we don't know anything about them. Maybe start with something more active?

  3. One thing that I'm not really sure about is.... why is Jack standing out in the rain, if he didn't initially plan on going over to hang out with his friend....?

    And why was he stuck under the tree with the old guy? I didn't really get why he couldn't just go dashing across to Will's house?

  4. I really liked this -- yes, it's wordy, but you mixed the fantastic with the everyday and grabbed my attention. I would read on to see what happens.

  5. I agree with all the comments. I loved the line about how the most dangerous thing about the man was his body odor. Funny! I'd trim some of the other descriptors, though.

  6. I liked it, and I think it has potential. Maybe find a way to sneak in a time period here. I imagined modern times until you mentioned the castle in the last paragraph, and even then, it could still be modern times. But I don't know, and I should know. Try to root the reader in a place and time.

    You have some great sentences here. The fisful of hair, the dangerous body odor. I really enjoyed the old man parg. But as others have said, it could be cut down to be more clear and succinct.

    The birthday was kind of a let down. I was looking for a bigger problem. Of course, not being at the castle could insinuate a bigger problem which we learn about a little later, but I think I'd prefer a hint of it now, if this was all I had to read.

    Still, I think I'd read more.

  7. This doesn't hook me. I think it's just not my kind of story.

  8. I don't know why walking in the rain would make him smell.

    And obviously some words missing here and there. "other side the dirty..."

    Sentences too run on for my taste.

    I just didn't feel a hook.

  9. Not hooked.

    I think this has potential. I like the spooky feel, the voice and was intriqued by the mention of Edinburgh Castle. But I felt like it needed more polishing. When you used direct thoughts the story flowed better for me.

  10. I think you could hook me if you cleaned it up a bit per the suggestions above. I'm curious about Jack being the forgotten slayer and not spending his 13th birthday at the castle like his brother. Makes me think of the Man in the Iron brother king, the other tossed away.

    I do like stories about underdogs.

  11. I like the writing but I don't get what it is that's at stake enough to want to read on much. Just a bit more hook and you'd be there I think.

  12. The line I loved was the teenage gripe about how he got to spend his birthday trapped between an old man and a tree. :D The rest of it was a bit baffling.

  13. There are some things to clean up and tighten, but I can see some good stuff lurking in here.

    As has been mentioned, you are missing some words ("stepped away and hit tree trunk").

    This doesn't grab me enough to stand out in a crowd, but it has potential.

  14. I like this a lot.

    Only the third paragraph halted me a bit. starting out "other side" is a bit jolty, and the imagery after that feels pieced together for me. there's a fountain and a lake and a window and another person who we don't know. Make this flow together a bit more and I'll be happy.

    Love the dangerous odor.

    I'd read on

  15. Some nice ideas. I like the line about the most dangerous thing about the old man, and Our Hero being stuck out in the rain on his birthday, rather than at a castle. But I had a difficult time with the blocking and trying to sort through who was who and where.

  16. Hm, I rather like this. I believe this old, smelly man has a major part in this, so I would have to keep reading. Am I hooked, yes.

    However, I did have some minor problems, other than what's already been said regarding a couple of omitted words.

    It's twilight, and raining, and there's a light on across the way, so it's not a well-lit scene. Yet the old man casts a shadow. And the MC sees him very well in this gloom - even to the liverspots and whiskers.

    For some reason, that combination of dark and light just didn't work for me. Of course, that's just a nitpik and can easily be changed if you so desire.

    Good luck.

  17. This is all right, but I'm not really hooked. I could turn the page, but then again, I might not.

    The one line that really threw me: "A handful of silver hairs sprouted from the wrinkles on his liver-spotted head." People's heads (the part from which hair would be sprouting, anyway) are generally pretty smooth. So if I take this literally, I'm wondering where the hair is sprouting from...

  18. I like the descriptions and the voice.I'm intrigued by the appearance of the old man.

    The first two lines didn't do much for me and I wasn't drawn in until the fourth paragraph overall. If the first couple of lines could be tightened up, I might not have been as confused about whether I should be looking around for the mother and toddlers or for Will.

    I'd read on another couple of pages though.

  19. This writing is really rough. I would not keep reading.