Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #28

GENRE: Mystery

The thing I liked most about Las Vegas was being out on the Strip when the sun came up. It was as if God turned on the lights and everyone was caught doing something they shouldn’t. In other places, and for other people, dawn might have been a mystical time when one breathed in the fresh promise of a new beginning – a spiritual rebirth, an On Golden Pond moment. But here, when the curtains were yanked back from Sunrise Mountain, the orange glow of desert sky was accusing: it was not a beginning but an end. What remained of the spirit was exposed and crushed. The only thing left behind was the afterbirth of over-indulgence and miscalculation. Whoever came up with the idea of executing people at dawn would have been someone comfortable walking the streets of Las Vegas at first light.

Someone like me.

There are some creatures who maintain a dignity about them when they retreat to sleep as the rest of the world awakes. A feral cat finishing its prowl carries itself with a kind of pride or resignation depending upon the results of its nighttime hunt. But humans were never meant to be nocturnal animals. There is no mistaking those who are starting their day, those who have risen from their beds, showered and dressed. They carry a freshness about them that contrasts starkly with those who have remained awake and semi-ambulatory long past what nature and good sense advised.


  1. I loved the opening paragraph, especially the opening sentence. I'm not someone who needs a fast-moving narrative, but as I finished the excerpt I did start to fear that we were veering into overwriting.

    I would keep reading, because the insight is intriguing, but too much navel-gazing would eventually tire me out. So I hope something breaks the pace in the next couple of paragraphs, because I really did like this overall.

  2. The strong voice captures me, drawing me forward to keep reading. The descriptions paint a vivid picture of Las Vegas, showing it from a new angle while digging deep into the MC's soul.
    The writing is smooth and seamless, almost poetic. The conflict could be many things, but there is a subtle tension hovering on the edge of this opening. Well done.

  3. Great excerpt. I agree, the way you painted Las Vegas instantly caught my attention.I would read on to find out more. There was a nice build and flow to the piece.

  4. Ooooh...what a dark and disturbing beginning! I would definitely read on.

  5. Beautiful, descriptive language, but a bit too much all at once for my taste. I think here that the maxim "less is more" applies. Trim a bit and you'd have something amazing.

  6. I love this. Beautiful descriptions and flow coupled with something very disturbing, and I like that I don't have a handle on the disturbing parts, yet.

  7. This had a moody feel to it, subtly expressing the narrators opinion about night people in contrast to himself/herself. It's a great voice.

    I would definitely read more.

  8. I must confess I see nothing about Los Vegas that's like On Golden Pond.

    The description seems to jump a bit from topic to topic without really showing us what you mean, but if you clarified some of this and deleted some description, you'd have a good start.

  9. I loved the first paragraph. Especially this line. "It was as if God turned on the lights and everyone was caught doing something they shouldn’t. "

    I did feel like you could have jumped into some dialogue though...the second paragraph seems to draw the opening out too much and might be better later in the chapter.

    I'm not a reader of mystery unless there's something paranormal in there but I think I'd read more...I'm intrigued by this character.

  10. I love the voice of the first paragraph--particularly the curtains yanked back....

    Unless there are paranormal elements to this mystery, I'd be careful about using the word creatures. In fact, I'd consider trimming that sentence and the next two completely as it is venturing into the overwrought.

    As a reader I'm left wondering which side of the law your POV character is on. Combined with the language of your first paragraph, I'd read more to find out.
    Good luck!

  11. Having just been on the strip at 6 in the morning, I love this observation. However, I think it dwells on it a bit too long. Especially when it starts delving into afterbirth.

    Creatures also threw me off.

    One detail I'd love to see (though by no means feel the need to include it) is the difference in feeling when being on the strip that early. Specifically for me, it was going into New York, New York when all the shutters were down, everything quite and all you had was the writing on the walls and the spectacle of the casino. It was exciting, interesting to see it, and a place I marked as having to come back to when it was open.

    When we came back at 3 pm the next day, it was garish, loud, overcrowded, and just like every other casino/hotel on the Strip. I was wholly disappointed.

    Sorry for the odd aside.

    I'd read a bit more just to get more of a feel of the Strip, but as it is right now, I'm a bit wary of the overindulgence.

  12. The first line is almost there; you have a good base to ramp it up and make it really pop. It's the "being out on the strip" that feels like dead weight; maybe some rephrasing will help:
    The thing I liked most about Las Vegas was sunrise on the Strip.

    The next like could be really fun, depending on the tone you want to set, to switch up a cliche like "caught with their pants down" to play on that with something unique and Vegas-y. I think you can make that first line work for you, set the image in a unique way.

    The first paragraph goes on a bit much for me, I would suggest trimming a few sentences to move on. I'm intrigued that this someone is a type of creature, but I ended up glossing over the last section which felt like a history lesson. I don't mind that telling bit if it comes later after I have context. Is there a way to show who your character is now? Maybe have them do something rather than exposit to...themselves? They are out on the Strip! Surely something is happening. Creatures gambling, stumbling home drunk. So much to work with here, show us the scene and the rest can work in later. Just my 2 cents :)

  13. Really liked it. There is a menace underneath the words and I love that I am not sure yet if the speaker is observing it - or the source of it. I like that you turn the usual images of Vegas on their head and show a dark underbelly at the one time of the day when everything is brightest. I can'tput my finger on it but there is something frightening already. Yeah, I'm hooked.

  14. I liked both pargs, and this is the kind of opening that I usually hate, but your MC is voicing some keen insights instead of blathering on. Still, I wonder if you could put parg 2 somewhere else because here, it does go on a bit too long, but I definitely wouldn't throw it away.

    I get such a sense of something dark and evil beneath all this. I'd read more.

  15. The first paragraph draws me in to your character's dark thoughts. I loved it and the single line too.

    We have a good sense of your character already, which is great, I think you could use the second paragraph for something more active.


  16. This is a very strong opening. I have a great sense of this character’s voice, and the descriptions of Las Vegas at dawn are fresh and original. I would definitely read more.