Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Secret Agent #6

TITLE: Beyond the River
GENRE: Literary Fiction

The revolving doors kept spinning, taking people into the terminal and simultaneously spitting them out into harsh sunlight. Brad straddled his bags and watched travellers hurry past while, thirty feet away, Dean paced on a broad slab of cement. Dean’s voice cut through the distant jet engines and passing cabs as he talked on his cellular phone. With his eyes, Dean directed Brad toward the ramp leading to SFO arrivals. A black Range Rover with tinted windows and glistening rims rounded the corner.

Dean nodded, seemingly seeking rare approval.

Apparently this is what we’ve been waiting for. Brad eyed the approaching SUV—the low profile tires all wrong for jeep trails with deep ruts and jagged rocks. It would be more at home in a music video than the wilderness. When we pull into the campground, everyone will think we’re total a*******. Brad crossed his arms over his chest.

Years ago, in such a situation, the same thoughts would have come to Brad, only he would have ignored them and nodded enthusiastically to stay on Dean’s good side. Now, at the start of what was supposed to be a way to leave things better between the two of them, he only felt displeasure. The compulsion to continually mask his true feelings was fading quickly. He didn’t need to do it anymore.

Dean covered the receiver with his free hand and shouted, “First class all the way.”

The SUV glided to a stop alongside a line of cars that were tight to the curb.


  1. I think the relationship between Brad and Dean is interesting. There's obviously some issues between them. This makes me curious as to what the problem is, what happened and how they can mend it.

    There are some confusing things, at least to me.
    Have they both arrived at the airport or is Dean picking Brad up?
    How does Dean direct Brad with his eyes?
    Dean nods seeking rare approval, but for what?

    I hope this helps.

  2. What's bothering me is that the first paragraph feels like placing bodies in a space, sort of like setting up the chess board. I'm not convinced we are actually playing chess in the first paragraph.

    Once I get over the first paragraph I feel the tension between the two men. You are building tension. But I want to know more about them, or just Brad, in the first paragraph.

  3. I think it's great that you set up this tension between people who are obviously close, but I don't understand why you started when they're waiting for the SUV. The most important information we get is that Brad thinks the car is ridiculous and that he's sick of hiding his feelings to placate Dean. So, you could start in the car, or at the campsite, or with anything more active, even if that action is Brad's internal rant, rather than his currently somewhat passive analysis.

  4. This is the wrong place to start. The travel scene is a commonly mentioned opening blunder; nobody cares that, or how, they got from point A to point B.

    Move the story ahead to wherever something happens that we can get invested in.

  5. I'm sure something interesting's going to happen soon, but it hasn't yet. One guy's talking on the phone. One guy's sitting on his suitcase. Their car comes. They're at the airport. We're 250 words in and all I know is that the car's a silly choice and one of the guys is pissed off about it. That's not enough of a hook to have me keep reading.

  6. My thought is this isn't the place to start. I'm thinking maybe the camp is where the bulk of the story will take place, so perhaps start it there. (if that's the case.) What's the catalyst that gets this story moving? Start there, or just before that.