Wednesday, January 13, 2010

45 Secret Agent

TITLE: Keeper of the Key
GENRE: Young adult

Peter crouched in the foliage. It hid his body from view, but didn’t block his sight. Through the cracks in the leaves and branches, he saw a field littered with dead. A great battle was over. Nothing moved. No victor remained.

Beads of sweat formed on his forehead. His eyes flicked back and forth as he surveyed the seen until one body drew all his attention. He recognizing the lifeless form and jerked his head back. For a moment he forgot to breathe. Father?

His head pounded as he stared at the body. Fresh blood leaked like heavy tears from lacerations covering the tanned muscular shoulders and torso. His shirt was torn in pieces and lay over the center of his massive chest. A knife buried to the hilt in his father’s chest sparkled in the dimming light. The sun straddled the mountains; night approached.

Peter heard the thumping of feet and rustling in the nearby trees. Shifting his eyes, he saw three men running, dodging the tangle of bodies that lay on the ground in a scattered mess. As if premeditated, they ran straight to the area where his father lay and stopped, searching the scene and the bodies at their feet. They were looking for something.

One of the men stopped his search when he came to Peter’s father. He called to the others. Breathing heavily the men stared at the blood-stained corpse. Their clothes were drenched in sweat. They had run far.


  1. Wow. This is a tough scene. He sees his father lying dead? Very hard to take. I'd like to get more of his emotional reaction to that.

    There are some typos here that tripped me up a bit.

    I'm not as connected to the MC as I'd like to be given what's going on. Maybe a little less physical description and a little more of his inner thoughts would help.

  2. There are parts of this that feel a bit overwritten and that prevented me from being drawn in. I also feel like there should be a bit more emotion when he recognizes his father among the bodies.

  3. I liked this one. I wouldn't read on because it's not my thing, but I liked your descriptions.

    You don't need to say 'Peter heard the thumping of feet . . . .' It's obvious he heard them since we're in his head. 'The thumping of feet . . . warned him of the coming danger,' or something along those lines. When you tell me Peter heard, you take me out of the moment.

    Wow, my heart's still pounding from reading it.

    Good luck!

  4. I think you do a great job at building this scene but I agree that I would expect more emotion from the MC.

    One little tidbit - the second sentence is not required. You show that he can still see in the following line and the hiding from view is implied by his crouching.

  5. This is a good, tense scene, but I'm not feeling any sense of the main character. What is he doing there? What does he feel when he sees his father is dead? We are in his head, so we should feel his emotions as well as see what he sees.

  6. I wanted to be hooked by this, because there's a lot to like. Your writing is pretty clean and the scene intriguing, but I just couldn't quite get there. Maybe it's the fact that I really don't know what the genre is here (historical? fantasy? contemporary?) or the fact that I can't really place Peter in a time or place. Or maybe it's Peter's lack of emotion as he surveys his father's corpse.

    There were also a few hiccups in the writing that you should address. "Seen" in the second paragraph should be "scene," and "recognizing" should be "recognized."

    Finally, there was some unnecessary telling toward the bottom of this excerpt. "They were looking for something" at the end of the fourth paragraph and "They had run far" at the end of the fifth were redundant. Your description makes both of those things clear.

  7. I don't get a sense of what is going on with the MC emotionally or his physical reaction to seeing his dead father.
    I would be a complete mess, shaking, crying, sick to my stomach if I saw that.
    But it's a good set up, so I'd keep reading.

  8. I loved the title. And I felt you quickly drew the reader in with Peter seeing his dead father. When I first read the description of his father, I wasn't sure if you were talking about Peter or his father. You might tighten this. Then you add the mystery of what the men were looking for, which made me want to read further.

  9. The premise seems interesting, but there are a couple of typos and spelling errors that slowed me up a bit. Also, you have quite a few "word repeats" that seem to take away from story a little bit. I don't feel like I know Peter yet, and I'm not sure that I like him enough to turn the page and follow him through an entire story.

  10. The language feels off to me. You've got some parts that seem overwritten ("Fresh blood leaked like heavy tears from lacerations...") and other parts that are very spare. It was too much dissonance for me within a short piece, and I don't think either way really works to convey what your character is going through. I should say, though, that I thought the situation itself was intriguing, and I'd probably turn the page to see what Peter would do next, but I wouldn't be able to read too much farther if the execution continued in this way.

  11. You do a great job of describing a battle scene. Something about this seems surreal. Peter looks around and notices a battle? How did he get there? It makes me suspect a dream or vision. This might explain why we also feel slightly distanced from Peter, as if we were watching rather than participating.

    I'd like to read on and find out what's happening.

  12. I like the tension and the action in this scene, but I think you need to punch up the emotion. The MC's reaction to seeing his dead father is, surprisingly, nothing. A sight like that would shock the MC and I feel if you described his emotional reaction this scene would 1) have more impact and 2) your MC would feel less like a simple observer and more like a person whom things are happening to.

  13. Same here, add more emotion and it will be a great opening scene. I would read on.

  14. Good tension. And a good shock–his Father! I was a little confused about how far away Peter was, at first I thought he was standing over his Father's body to see all the details of his wounds. I wondered what era this is–the title and knife wound suggest historical, but it could be fantasy.
    I'd like to know more of what's going on in Peter's head and how he feels about the unfolding scene.