Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #16

TITLE: The Legend of Falkeld Island

This is not a good idea.

I watch the bobbing boat lights of night patrols, hearing Gaffer's voice echo in my head. "Kade m'boy, ne'er fall in love wi' a mhara. They cannae be trusted."

Its that last part that sticks with me.

They cannae be trusted. "Well I don't have much of a choice now, do I Gaffer?" My voice is lost in wind and the low whoosh, whoosh, whoosh-ing of the tide pulling in and out.

I gaze over the water. Something stirs, rippling the surface far beyond the break. My heart leaps. But its too dark to see. To catch a glimpse of a maighdean mhara.

I move towards the ripple anyway, steeling myself against fear. I've only seen a mhara once in my life. I was nine.

And her memory still chills my blood like winter.

That night, the ocean crashed against Muireall's black cliffs, ripping out boulders, and smahing boats and sails against rock. Water flooded fields, washing away newly sown crops.

I stood on the shore as long as I could. Waiting for him to come home. To see the white of his mast flag touch the horizon. Weathering the storm. Coming home to me.

Instead, I saw her.

Standing on the cliff, long black hair whipping about her naked body. She faced the wind, arms and fingers spread at her sides. She lifted her hands and the storm rose, as if she commanded the elements.

Terror gripped me, but I couldn't move.


  1. I like the suspense you're building in your exerpt and I love the beauty of your writing.

    You could shake up some of your sentences by not beginning so many with "I". For example, with the "I gaze over the water" sentence, you could say: Something stirs, rippling the surface far beyond the break as I gaze over the water.

    I also wonder if it would be better to start with the "her memory" section, then cut to hearing Gaffer's voice, only because it confused me to be in the present, then in a memory so soon afterward, before I was solidly grounded in your character's world.

    Anyway, best of luck with it!

  2. The idea is intriguing, full of poetic folklore grounded in harsh reality. But this opening sequence bounces me around in time and place, confusing as written using flashbacks. This is one of the few instances where I would suggest using a prologue to place me in the scene, so the later emotions and events fall into place. That way, Kade's actions/reactions are filled with tension. I like the mystery of his motivations for going on such a dangerous journey. Watch out for the overuse of sentences that start with "I" or "My". There's too many examples here, and it breaks the flow. I would keep reading because the subject matter and tension intrigues me enough to look beyond the editing details.
    Oh, and I thought Kade was a guy, and Martha above commented on Kade being a girl, so a few well-placed words would clear up the gender confusion.

  3. I agree with the other comments about being bounced around a bit too much in this excerpt. However, I would omit a prologue and even the flashback at this point. I think the reader is intrigued enough with what the mhara is that they would continue reading without the need to use a flashback. All you need to do is keep the line that says, "And her memory still chills my blood like winter." That line absolutely ensures that readers will keep reading! The flashback actually pulled me out of the intensity of your first scene, and you want to keep that going.

  4. I agree with Shannon. The beginning sucked me right in. There's tension and suspense and even a hint of conflict with the remembrance of Gaffer's words about not being able to trust a mhara. There I am, on this dark shore, with the waves crashing in, waiting to possibly see the mermaid you're teasing us with, and then you go into backstory.

    Arrgh! Total disappointment. I wanted to see where he was going, what he was going to do, if the mhara would show itself.

    Save the backstory for later, probably when he actually sees the mhara again, and give us more of the story.

  5. The content of this opening is good. We like that you have a different voice that is easily distinguishable from the main character’s (the gaffer). There’s nice suspense built here, but the typos were distracting.

  6. I'm a little disoriented here. I get what's going on, he's on a boat somewhere. But I don't know where, I don't know when, I can't really see it.

    Now, if it's supposed to be disorienting, spot on.

    Another thing that threw me is the creature he's talking about. I'm guessing a siren, a serpent, a mermaid. Any of those three. Maybe something, just a hint, to point us in the right direction.

    Otherwise, I'd read on, if but to try and gain a bit more understanding.