Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #5

TITLE: Athena: Claiming the Throne
GENRE: Fantasy

Land.

Odysseus used the last of his strength to cling to the black crags that bit into his hands, the horrible surge of water that had torn at his body finally passing by. Bobbing like a loose bit of cork in the bitter sea, he used this brief respite from the pull of the tide to contemplate these last moments of his life. Then the crash of the surf against the rocky shore let him know the backwash was headed his way, and his muscles told him he was too weak to keep his hold. Young crabs were swept back out to sea with more dignity than this.

But it had been such a welcome prospect. Swimming in this merciless sea for two days and nights after his makeshift ship had splintered to pieces, the smell of land had finally reached his waterlogged nostrils. Dawn of the third day had brought the sweet sight of this place -- whether island or mainland, he did not know -- rising from the choppy waters. But as the tide brought him close, that same dawn revealed the rough, black rocks of the treacherous coast. A calculated lunge had caught him this miserable crag, the muscles of his arms weary beyond all reason, and so he had saved himself from being dashed against that hard shore. Now he saw the tide turn, felt the first tug that would dislodge him from this last, desperate battle against the elements. Athena has abandoned me.

8 comments:

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I really liked this, it's well written and that last line is excellent. I just had two (very mundane) thoughts - Would he really smell land before he saw it? And can a man survive swimming in freezing water for three days, even Odysseus? The second thought is good though, cause I'd keep reading to figure out how he made it.
Good job at creating sympathy and rising tension - I also loved the line about young crabs!

Barbara said...

I liked the opening. You put me on that rock with Odysseus. But when he uses this last repsite to contemplate, you lost me. For two reasons. The hero of your story is giving up (already? we just started.) And contemplation means back story which means taking me away from the here and now.

Perhaps keep the story focused in real time and get the back story in later, after he makes it to safety. Fighting for his life is exciting and interesting. A man thinking is not.

And then the last sentence is in first person.

alex said...

I really like this, would totally read on! The last sentence did throw me a bit, but I wonder if its in itlaics on your manuscript.

Secret Agent said...

I have to admit, I’m not a fan of characters using any excuse to contemplate the last moments of their lives, at least not in the opening pages. Better for Odysseus to focus on the task at hand, and drop more subtle hints about how he came to be in such a predicament. I was also thrown off by the switch from third person to first person in the last line, unless this is something that Odysseus is thinking to himself?

Anonymous said...

If he's clinging to a black crag, can he really be bobbing like a loose bit of cork? :)

I also want to boot his tuchus and say "stop thinking about the past and DO SOMETHING before the waves come back at you!"

markmurata said...

Thank you for the comments so far. Yes, the last line was italicized, but that got lost in the transfer.

Chazley Dotson said...

This is ridiculously perfect.

My one criticism: "brief respite." It's one of those phrases that's almost a cliche, and I hate to see it in an otherwise amazing opening.

sbjames said...

I'm a big fantasy/mythology fan. I'm excited about the title and the MC's name, but I'm sorry to say this opening didn't really pull me in. I agree about the sentence beginning with bobbing- used this brief respite...contemplate these last moments...its dramatic sounding but actually pulls me from the present drama. So, I'd say cut it and keep us in the moment of a guy about to drown- that's a great hook. Just stick with it. I'd go straight from the great voice in the young crab line to- Athena had abandoned me- another great line.