Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #11

Title: The Knackers: Spit in the Crown’s Eye
Genre: Fantasy

It was said Mullerburgh wine was actually collected from the unfinished glasses of the king’s court, and then poured into casks built from wood meant for coffins. It was rumored that Mullerburgh women bled smoke, breathed envy and drove their men to bloody back-alley deeds. It was whispered that the lust for witchery ebbed and flowed in Mullerburgh, with one year warlocks gallivanting down the rough stone boulevards, and the next their charred teeth could be picked out of the cracks between those same cobbles.

So it was said.

“She’s a sight, ain’t she, boy?”

Pellegrin Eider twisted in his saddle. “Pardon?” His wide-chested horse snorted at the new arrival. Pellegrin knew he had been lost in reverie, gazing down from his position on the hill to view the city, but no old peddler should have been able to sneak up on him.

The peddler, dressed warmly in layers of tattered furs, eyeballed Pellegrin and his horse as if both were tradable goods. Pell fought the urge to protectively pat his coin sack. The old man grinned and his eyes, gray and merry, squinted up at Pellegrin. He said, “The cock from the country doesn't crow in the city, eh?”

Pellegrin wanted the peddler to go away, and take his jokes with him. Pell had been warned that as soon as he spoke, he would be seen as a rube, marked out as a dirt-worker despite his title.


  1. Let me start by saying this sort of opening is made for a reader like me. Evocative, original imagery about terrible things. And I'm a big sucker for threes. I love it.

    But it's a little hard to parse. The cleaner it is, the stronger it will be. I'd suggest the following:

    Cut all the "it was rumored/whispered/said." Just state it as fact, then hit us with that next paragraph: "So it was said."

    Then, really think about reordering those images. I would strongly suggest swapping the wine and the warlocks, because "The lust for witchery ebbed and flowed in Mullerburg." is a bold statement, while the wine imagery is more complex, and would probably serve you best at then end of the paragraph.

    It's awesome! Just smooth it as tight as possible. Good luck to you! I would definitely read more.

  2. I liked the opening parg, and I, too, would suggest moving the wine sentence, but I'd suggest making it last, so you start with the women, who force their men into bloody deeds, then move on to the warlocks, who end up as victims of bloody deeds, then go to the wine which ends up in casks made of coffin wood, which is where the wizards inevitably end up, (in coffins, not the casks.)

    I like the peddler. I could envision him well. Although you might consider changing 'tattered furs' to balding or mangy." Furs don't generally tatter.

    It was Pell who seemed the most uninteresting, because we really don't get anything from him in this opening. And he's your MC, so maybe consider making him a bit more active. And you switch back and forth between Pellegrin and Pell. Perhaps call him one name or the other.

  3. I liked this opening. It's dark and intriguing. The last sentence in the first paragraph is a little awkward. Consider breaking into two. Something like this, "It was whispered that the lust for witchery ebbed and flowed in Mullerburgh. One year warlocks gallivanted down the rough stone boulevards, the next their charred teeth were picked out of the cracks between those same cobbles."

    Consider cutting 'protectively' or swap 'protectively pat' for another verb, grip for instance.

    I wondered about the peddler and if he would prove friend or foe. From the small hints of conflicting description here, he could go either way. I find that kind of character interesting. I would read more.

  4. I like your voice and writing style, but I think you should start with the first dialogue sentence. That would bring us into the story right away. Then maybe add your first paragraph a little later. Also, if you do use that first paragraph, I would try to mix up the sentence structure some to avoid starting with "It was. . ." in each sentence. Good luck to you!

  5. I’m torn on where to begin this, honestly. As I don’t know if you have a spot to move he first two paragraphs later on in the narration without feeling them shoehorned in, I’m 50/50 on if you should leave the start where it is or begin with the line of dialogue. I do, however, say to remove all the “it was said/rumored” because it gives the stand alone “so it was said” that much more punch. The rest I like. I adore your voice and it’s the right amount of atmosphere for me. Nicely done!