Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #47

TITLE: The Rogue King
GENRE: Fantasy Science Fiction Cross

Koral looked up through the glass panel in the metal ceiling. The combined light of four moons made it difficult to see the stars. Only a scant few shone bright enough to punch through that pallid glow. Which one of those dots, out of the hundreds he knew were truly out there, belonged to the alien creatures raising him? They'd come from another world, somewhere beyond the moons and the twin suns. From a planet they called Earth.

He wished the same could be said about him. But then he'd wished for many things over the passing twelve years of his life. None of them had come true either.

"Excuse me."

He winced at the words. A weary sigh escaping through his nostrils as he turned to face his birth-mother.

Amelia stood in the doorway leading out of his tiny room aboard the spaceship, hands on hips. "Get your tail back to bed, mister." She was considered short by the men, who weren't much taller than she was. He had recently surpassed all of them height-wise and their latest bio scans promised he would grow further still.

Koral's gaze fell to her booted feet. How did she always manage to move so silently on the metal flooring? "Tell me another story," he said, giving her a smile that, usually, let him get his way.

"Very well," she said with a sigh, a tinge of humour tweaking her lips.


  1. I like the general flow here, and the fact that you quickly identify some internal conflict for your main character.

    I think the writing obscures what Konal is really thinking about the aliens from Earth in the wish he makes in the second paragraph. I can't be quite sure if he wishes he was from Earth or something else. If that is supposed to be clear from the beinning, it might be worth re-examining that line.

    The line "passing twelve years" is awkward to me. I get that you are trying to find a natural placpe to give his age, and it would work better for me if it were tweaked just a bit.

    There are more than enough dramatic questions for me to read on a bit more.

  2. I like the aspect of the "aliens" in the story being from Earth. I would keep reading to see where it goes.

    One part I found confusing was the reference to "the alien creatures raising him" and then him facing his "birth-mother" farther down. I assume he's on the spaceship with his "real" mother back where he was born. Referring to the Earthlings as "raising him" gives me the impression that they are involved in his life at that moment. Maybe "raised" would be less confusing...unless the Earthlings are on the ship as well, then I guess it's not an issue. :)

  3. I agree with the previous two comments. There's some really interesting stuff at work here but it's a little confusing in the wording.
    For example: "She was considered short by the men, who weren't much taller than she was." The sentence seems to be contradicting itself. I think clarifying and simplifying a little bit would be helpful, but I really enjoy how quickly we're thrown into the world.

  4. I think this is an interesting premise, but I think it could start in a different place. Perhaps right at the dialogue.

    I felt like the character was older, it even read like an adult. I'm assuming he is 12 based on the "passing twelve years" line and the fact that his mother is going to tell him a story.

    To me, there is a bit too much telling. I fall into this sometimes with my first page, wanting to talk about a character's height and things like that. I don't think you need to lose the mother's description, but I don't think it's needed on page one.

    Still, I'd keep reading for a few more pages. Hope that helps

  5. I'm intrigued by the reference to Earth, but I'm confused by the disparity between the voice and the apparent age of the mc. From what I can figure out, he's twelve years old, but the voice in this is much older. So what you set up in the beginning is a book that reads like it has an adult mc. When his mom appeared and ordered him to bed, I was jolted out of that and I felt like I had to reassess my expectations. (I initially thought the reference to twelve years was twelve years on the ship, not his age.) Also, he doesn't behave like a typical twelve year old--"wincing" and "weary" are descriptions that imply cynicism, which only comes with age. But then he wants another story, which is a childlike thing to request, so I feel like I'm getting contradictory information here about his maturity. These aspects are obscuring for me what has the potential to be a very interesting story.

  6. You've gotten some great feedback so far which I agree with, particularly regarding the age/voice disparity. I do love the way you turn "alien" on its head by having them be Earthlings--that's a really great twist.

    A couple of other things did trip me up:

    1) the transition from the first paragraph to the second was a little confusing. Does he mean he wishes he could say he's from Earth? It's not clear if that's what he's wishing or why.

    2) The reference to the "birth-mother." From what I read, I was left with the impression he is not human and not from Earth, so i'm unclear on how she could be his birth mother. perhaps a quick line could explain that?

    Great start - good luck!

  7. I'm pretty sure there's some protocol in replying to comments. What can be said/explained and such.

    So ... as I don’t want to be seen as impolite or stubbornly argumentative ... thank you all for reading.

  8. Marice, have you never seen a child wince through beening caught doing something they are not supposed to do, or hear a weary sigh when its time for bed?

  9. I thought the whole moon thing was really cool. And I really liked the first paragraph.

    I do have to agree that I was confused about the age as well, and then his mother came on the scene and I was like, "wait a minute".

    And as for the wincing and weary sighing, I can't say I would think of a 12yo, if you're in the 12yos head, thinking they winced or had a weary sigh. But this is all just a few comments on the first page that we have been asked to critique. No need to get upset over a few words. We're all just trying to help each other. Whether the author chooses to accept our suggestions is up to the author and whether it resonates with him/her.

    I think this is a great start to a great story and I would keep reading, cause I want to know more about Koral and where he came from.

  10. There are so many amazing places this could be going, so I hope you take us there, but this beginning is quite confusing. If he's talking to his birth-mother, and his birth-mother is telling him a story, then she's at least partially raising him. So who are the alien creatures raising him?

    And the tone doesn't match the narrator's age. If this is middle-grade, you've got to sound younger. If it's not, then you've got to change the character's age.

  11. This is no middle-grade story. It's not even YA, unless you're talking around 17 and up.
    Not to throw anyone off this, but there are some mature things he’s forced into and, later, willing does. It’s all part of how he becomes who he is and knows what he does. Without it, the story makes little sense and the alternative ... well, I tried the alternative first.

    Here’s the thing about the age/voice deal:
    Koral's twelve for four chapters (the latter half holding some of the graphic stuff: godly sacrifice & possession, murder & other things), then he's eighteen for two scenes, twenty-four for a chapter or so, then thirty for three chapters. In the rest of the story, from about chapter 18 to 36, he's nearing forty. That's not even including his son's pov sections or those of Koral’s lover.
    I’ve kept the voice consistent throughout without anyone, until now, ever mentioning it. Maybe it’s due to there usually being more than 238 words to read, I don’t know.

    As for the birth-mother ... she's one of the humans, which becomes more apparent a little further in the chapter.

  12. I was confused about what his wish was. Is he wishing he was from earth, or is it something else.

    And I didn't get what was going on with his birth. He is being raised by aliens (Earthlings) but you say in your explanation that Amelia is not only his birth mother, but an earthling, whch makes him at least half an earthling. So I'm not getting how he's being raised by aliens. Perhaps that situation could be clearer.

    There's also no inciting incident, no tension or conflict. It's a rather slow and passive opening. Is there a point with more movement or action or crisis where you can start? Or maybe just hint at a problem?

  13. I don't like stories that start smack-bang in the action (to me, that stuff is for movies) and I tend to write how I think, which is influenced by how I like to read. And after 14 years, I've tried just about every other way to start this: Prologue, flashback, alluding wholly to these events along with not writing ‘Koral’ at all and starting with when he's called ‘Vengeance/Veng’. But then I needed to info-dump on how he got that way or no one could sympathise with him.
    Like I said previously, this isn't its first critique run, though surely the one that's had the most problem with it.

    Again, the whole 'is he human or not' deal is explained along with the mother issue (along with a part description of what he looks like). But since it bothers people so much to speculate based on 238 words ... he's 100% non-human, genetically crafted by the humans using the dna of three beings native to the planet they're stranded on, and then implanted into Amelia. The full reason of why isn't discovered until much later.