Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Secret Agent #20

TITLE: Apathy's Hero
GENRE: Contemporary Fantasy

Conner’s feet hit solid ground and his stomach threatened to revolt. He stumbled, back finding the nearest wall. Brick bit through the cotton of his shirt as he leaned against it for support.

A dizzying blend of palm trees and graffiti swam in front of him, taking too long to become coherent shapes. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The chatter and rapid-paced dialect told him they were on the West Coast. The scents of car exhaust and salt water mingling in the air made him think Southern California.

“Are you all right?” Kali’s concern wove through the symphony of car horns and blaring radios, giving him something familiar to grasp.

He nodded, not willing to look yet. Being phased from one place to another was bad enough, but Kali was so weak now that it meant spending almost a full minute in the ether before they rematerialized. He blamed the parasite who shared her body.

The distinct perfume of rotten eggs and sour milk assaulted Conner, and he bit back a gag.

“Oh, hello.” It didn’t sound like Kali was talking to him.

Conner forced one eye open. Shop windows littered with obscene colors wavered into focus. Somewhere in the background silverware clinked on plastic and roller skate wheels clattered along the concrete.


  1. The fourth paragraph pulled me into your story. I would turn the page.

    Since so much is happening, why not slow the action and the descriptions. For example, my eye skipped the second paragraph entirely. Is this something you can show later or edit to: "...Palm trees and graffiti blended into an incoherent shape. Car exhaust, the smell of salt water, and dialect made him think Southern California..."

  2. Hooked. I loved 'brick but through the cotton of his shirt'. Great job. I would keep reading.

  3. Not quite hooked, but also not a genre I usually read. I felt like you spent too much time on them materializing, when maybe it would have been stronger to just have them materialize and focus on where they are, what to do next, etc.

  4. This is a great concept, but it wobbles on the execution. There's a lot of time and space dedicated to description, but I think at the beginning of the book, you're better off using that space to introduce the characters rather than the setting. You could probably use half your number of descriptors and still give the reader a clear picture of where Conner and Kali are.

    I would continue to read, were this in my slush pile.

  5. Not quite hooked. Concept is interesting, but little things are drawing me away from it. In the second sentence, either the comma is misplaced or you are missing a "his" before "back." It took me three reads to realize that Kali was the parasite referred to in the fourth paragraph. Also, there, you say "shared her body" but the MC is male. Since the experiences are being described by him, I picture her along for the ride with him. Perhaps all this is cleared up shortly, but in such a short excerpt, it leaves me more confused than painting a clear image. When the extra voice is introduced and he realizes its not Kali speaking, you deviate to more description of the setting rather than who it is. I think you lose some surprise here by doing this.

  6. I liked the idea behind it and the content for the most part. A little too much setting description and not enough sorting me out on what's happening to them, vs. around them.

    I still can't figure out who Kali is (parasite or person with a parasite), where she is (is she invisible... is he?), and what the rotten eggs are.

    I also can't tell who said, "Oh, hello." I can't discern whether you mean Kali is talking to someone other than him, or someone other than Kali is talking to him. The jump back to description after that only adds to my confusion.