Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March Secret Agent #34

TITLE: A Life, Eternal
GENRE: Adult - Science Fiction

I, Dr. Linwood Holbrooke, begin this journal in the name of science and to progress humankind. Someday, my research will be the most important ever done in defeating the disease called age. Fellow scientists, well-wishers, and curious minds, I am honored you are studying my work on radical life extension. By the time I complete this experiment to my satisfaction I hope to have lived for thousands of years.

I earned a PhD in human genetics from Stanford University in 1976 where I focused my studies on molecular evolution. The highlight of my career, until now, involved my anonymous collaboration on the Human Genome Project in the early 2000’s. We did something that had never been done before and changed the world. That experience taught me that humankind has unlimited potential.

Yes, my dear friends and colleagues, eternal life is possible. Well, in the quasi sense anyway.

If my earlier words resulted in a scoff, I do not blame you. But, I beg your indulgence through my explanation. There are creatures which hold the key to long life. Tortoises, Tapeworms and Tuataras possess the capacity to live over 200 years. Clams can live over 400 years. The Antarctic Sponge can exceed 1,500 years of life. The lifespan of many animals dwarf that of humans.

These creatures live in untamed and brutal environments. I find it interesting that humans have access to advanced medical care, nurturing families, and scientific guidelines to nutrition yet we only live to an average of 67.2 years. So, why is that?


  1. This reads like a scientific journal which is what you're going for...but it reads like a scientific journal and they're boring. Hard to tell where this goes from here, but if Holbrooke is your MC and is still alive, then maybe introduce him via live action and let the journal come later.

    Hope this helps. Good luck.

  2. This is a very different type of opening for me. I think the premise is interesting, but I think you need to present it in a different, more 'active' way. It sounds too much like being read to. Good luck!

  3. I'm not a big fan of characters introducing themselves and telling the reader who they are and what they do. The scientific stuff here is intriguing, but being reminded that I'm reading what looks like a journal does not immerse me in the story or hook me in. Consider getting us into the MC's mind another way. Interesting concept, though.

  4. Interesting idea, but I think readers of science fiction might expect a faster, hookier opening. One way to do this might be to keep your first paragraph, which sets a certain pompous, scholarly tone, and then go immediately into some action involving your main character. Where is the person who is writing this? Are they typing away at a computer in a lab? What's intriguing or science fiction-y about the setting? Make us see it/him/her. Right now this sounds like a report written before the story begins, giving the reader lots of backstory that you could probably weave in later in smaller chunks and by using dialogue, making it more alive and immediate.

  5. Interesting opening with a strong voice. I'm already getting a sense of who the narrator is, and I'm intrigued by the experiment on which he's about to embark (and what will go horribly wrong!). I do think you could make the second and subsequent paragraphs a bit more plot-focused... not necessarily jumping right into immediate action, but more hints about the nature of the experiment, perhaps, before getting so much into his background. You could even work those into what you already have if you get more specific about his experience (e.g., "During my PhD studies in molecular evolution at Stanford, I experimented with X, leading me to wonder about Y."). Good luck!

  6. I'm definitely into the premise of eternal life, but you're starting off with a ton of exposition, and it's not working for me. I do appreciate the sense of character I get here, but info dumps are never a great way to start a book--though points in your favor for doing so via a journal entry. People do actually write in journals like this, so it has a sense of believability even if it doesn't function well as an opening.

    That said, there is one way in which I think this could work: as a prologue or foreward. A number of books start with excerpts from poetry, other novels, newspapers, or journals (real or fake). Provided that the excerpt is short, this can be a very effective way to ground the reader in some context before diving into the main narrative. I don't know the structure of your manuscript, so this may already be a foreward (in which case great!) or you may need to revise the opening.

    Thank you for submitting this entry!

  7. the premise of eternal life is interesting. that being said there is way too much info dump and facts i dont care about at this moment. if your novel continues in this journal format, why not grab our attention with something going wrong? you can always spread out these facts and background info in the rest of the following chapters.

  8. I have to agree with the other comments so far. I think this could work as a prologue, but is a bit too stiff as the opening of a book since we have no idea what the central conflict will be. I love the concept, though, and if the whole book is narrated as a journal, I think playing with the order of the entries as far as time sequence could be interesting and add tension.