Wednesday, September 9, 2009

44 Secret Agent

GENRE: Dark contemporary fantasy

In dreams, the green wild stalked Angela as pythons did mice, crushed her and consumed.

"I'll come home before you realize I'm gone." Grief shredded her words as she kissed Sebastian goodbye. Plane engines roared on the runway, prepped to bear away the twenty-third company. Two years she'd trained and now, her affairs in order, she was to do her part fighting the Deluge. Just a reconnaissance mission. Look and report. See what the jungle lord had planned.

"I know." Sebastian hugged her tighter, like they were the only two on the crowded airfield; other couples held each other the same way, and fathers shook sons' hands before panicked embraces, because this might be the last anyone heard from the twenty-third company. "And I'll be waiting here when you get back."

She blinked away a mist of tears. "Right here? Won't you get hungry?"

"It's going to be messy, but I won't move until your plane lands again." With a tight half-smile, he tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "This doesn't want to be trapped in a bun, you know."

"It's that or hack it all off." She leaned against his fingertips, his touch a fresh reminder of what she fought to protect, but mostly what she was leaving behind. She'd remember, too, his expression of mock anguish at the suggestion of a haircut. He was trying so hard to be brave for her.

Commander Barra shouted over the cacophony for everyone to board.


  1. This didn't work for me. The tension should be higher for such an event and I didn't feel it. The dialog is unnatural to me.

  2. I had to read the first line several times to understand it. I think it's just a little too abstract for my brain. The rest I liked, being a military wife, maybe it's easier for me to associate with the feelings of a loved one leaving for someplace dangerous. I would read more.

  3. Partially hooked. I like the interaction between the two characters, but I'm not sure exactly what's going on or what the stakes are. The first sentence doesn't quite work for me; it seems disconnected from the following paragraphs.

  4. I'm also on the fence with this one.

  5. I didn't feel a connection with the characters here. I wasn't hooked.

  6. I found this situation quite intriguing - the ominousness of the jungle, the military parting. I expect an unusual book out of this, and would read on.

    It's tricky starting off with an established couple in an emotionally charged situation - it's a lot of feeling for the reader to empathise with so quickly. I don't quite feel like you're pulling it off fully yet, though there's nothing obvious that's wrong, and I think it's clear that you are capable of it.

    Maybe try getting rid of anything approaching 'tell' rather than 'show' - words like 'grief', phrases like "like they were the only two."

  7. For me, the writing came off as melodramatic in places. I think the situation is powerful enough that simpler descriptions would do the trick.

  8. I loved the intro sentence. Then it was a bit of a jump for me to the second paragraph, trying to figure out where the dialogue is coming from before I have a picture.

    I thought he was tucking his hair until I got to "behind her ear". I'd mention the bun first, again, so I have a starting picture and then I know he's tucking her hair.

    I like "won't you get hungry?" good humor.

  9. Too slow for me. It's difficult to endure a long goodbye scene when you don't yet know or care about the characters.

    Heck, it's always difficult to endure a long goodbye scene. At least for me.

    Not hooked, sorry.

  10. A bit melodramatic for me too. I think the scene could have stood on it's own, without the embellishments.

    I imagined everyone quietly saying goodbye, so the cocophany mentioned in the last sentence seemed out of place.

    I did like the humor, but I'd like more of a hook. Perhaps no other scouting mission had ever returned or? Otherwise, it just feels like another mission to me.

  11. I think this is overwritten. You've crammed in so many little details into these 250 words, most of them will just fly over the reader's head. I like the voice, and the writing, but there's just too much description for the little that's going on.

  12. Well, I liked it. I didn't like the first sentence and I had no idea who was delivering that first piece of dialogue so I at first thought she was seeing off her loved one rather than being the one to leave. But I was intrigued and I am very interested. I like the idea of military fantasy or sci-fi so I'm really curious to see what's going on.

    Right now I'm picturing something like Predator or Independence Day.

  13. Not sure about the overdramatic first line(avid hiker here, we loves the green wild after all), but liked the writing in general. :)

  14. Good use of verbs. What is a "green wild"? Do planes bear away people?

    Also you've head-hopped from the gal to the guy in the same scene. Rule of thumb: Stay in the same POV in each chapter or at the very least each scene.

    I felt like a voyeur in this scene. Too mushy when I don;t know these folks.

  15. Loved the plot so far, but feel fairly confused on the delivery of the first few paragraphs---like maybe too much info was crowded into the beginning. Great visuals, some tension, but some confusion as I read it too.

  16. Ditch the first 2 paragraphs (they do nothing to move along the story) and start with Sebastian hugging her goodbye.

    Can't say I'd keep reading. All I know is she's getting on a plane. Simple look and report...sounds boring.

    Is the Deluge a group the jungle lord commands? I'm left wondering how a reconnaissance mission for a jungle lord would lead to dark contemporary fantasy. Is this like Predator or something? If you were hinting that the mission was special ops to learn why her fellow fighters were being slaughtered by some weird, never before seen method, I would so turn the page! Right've haven't given me any reason to turn the page.

  17. I actually liked this more than what appears to be the majority, although the first paragraph did throw me a bit. It seems too abstract for the rest of the piece.

    On the other hand, I didn't find the dialogue too contrived. Sappy perhaps, but realistic. Also, I'm interested in the juxtaposition of the man staying behind while the woman goes off to war. I'd read on.

  18. I liked the first sentence, but then the next parg was so far removed from it, I was going 'huh?'

    3rd parg - He hugged her like they were the only two on the airfield. Then you proceed to tell us about everyone who's there. Pergaps mention the crowd on the field first, then have them hug and use that line.

  19. I guess I'm a sucker for established couples, but I liked this one. I agree that the change between the first and second paragraphs was jarring, but all in all it was really evocative.

  20. This works for me. People make bad jokes in emotionally charged situations so they won't burst into tears.

    But I'd rather see this begin with the second sentence. The first one confused me.

    I'd continue reading, but would want things to move quickly once she got on the plane.

  21. I must fess up--I read the first fifty chapters of this book a few months ago, considering it for representation. I wound up passing, though.

  22. It has more than 50 chapters? Wow...

  23. Keren, I bet that's a typo. Most agents ask for fifty pages. :)

  24. I'm afraid I found the first sentence off putting and nearly didn't read on. Then there was a sameness in the subsequent sentence forms. Grief shredded, plane engines roared.

    It felt over written until you reached the dialogue and the description of the partings
    I was puzzled by the Deluge? What is it? A cataclysm or a rebel army?

    But more importantly I felt I knew nothing about the relationship between the MC and Sebastien. Is he a husband, brother or boyfriend? We don't know yet and until we do, it is hard to really care.

    I did like the humour about not moving, but not knowing Sebastien, it lacked context.