Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #50

TITLE: From the Dirt Sea
GENRE: Adult Mainstream w/hint of magic

For years nothing had grown in the neglected dirt lot Leia called a backyard, and she had no idea why anything had sprouted now. A little green bud surfaced dead center in the brown expanse, standing out like a marble in riverbed. Leia leaned over it, careful not to topple on top of it as her hangover clouded her sense of equilibrium. Probably a weed. It’d been a rainier winter than her valley desert town was used to, but even then, her yard had been exceptionally resistant to life through every other heavy soak. This weed must possess fortitude far beyond her negligence.

Instinctively, she went to sip at her coffee and remembered that she’d yet to make any having been so distracted by this new, planty development.

Po, her bad-mouthed chihuahua, yelped at her from the back door, unwilling to step foot on the cold patio yet desperate for breakfast all the same.

“Coming, you little shit,” she said, though this did little to soothe him. It wasn’t until the food cascaded into his plastic bowl that he quieted long enough to scarf it down, as if he hadn’t eaten in days. It hadn’t even been a full twelve hours since his last meal, to which the vet would complain again about his weight, but the vet wasn’t the one living with the mouthy little beast.


  1. I don't think your story has started yet. We learn more about the location (rainy winter, desert town, bare yard) than about the presumed MC. 250 words is enough time to drop at least a hint as to her problem, some challenge she faces, but we have only a stray bud and an unhappy dog. The character has some quirks that could potentially be interesting, but I think we need something in the first page that forces us to keep reading.

    I assume "Leia" and "Po" have something to do with a Star Wars theme, though drunk-and-hungover Leia calls to mind Carrie Fisher's difficult life - is that a comparison you want to make?

    The writing is mostly smooth, but not engrossing or elevated.

    BTW, keep an eye (or ear) out for I-didn't-read-out-loud-yet items such as "topple on top."

    I'm not trying to be negative. I just don't see enough here to tell me where this is going. That could easily change on the next page.

  2. I would use something different to compare other than a marble in a riverbed. Topple on top made me have to re-read. May want to reword. I didn't get a sense of what type of story this will be, or of any conflict. I felt there are touches of humor, and can see that this can be developed at a feel for the story. I wondered if maybe the story needs to start further in? The little plant and Po being hungry can be woven in later. The writing is smooth, however, and I really do want to find out what the plant is and how it can to grow in such a bleak location. Good luck!

  3. I like the voice in this. The reference to "little shit" hits a note for me. And I really like your opening sentence. It immediately sets up a sense of mystery and I want to know what this plant is and why it decided to grow in such an unlikely setting.

    But unless there is a tie-in between this determined plant and the determined little shit, I don't know how much we need the latter at this time. I'm thinking there surely must be a connection, and I'm dreading finding out.

    I think the wording in your second paragraph, and again in your last one, needs a little work and tightening up. Perhaps it's simply a matter of punctuation, but I had to reread a couple of sentences. Otherwise, I find your opening interesting enough to keep reading.

  4. I liked the voice a lot. There were a lot of great details, but I think some of them could be worked in a little later on so that the meat of the story - the conflict or the character's wants- could be hinted at earlier.

  5. Overall, I think this is a strong opener. There is a sense of something intriguing that I really enjoy. That said, at places it felt a little wordy and I found myself tripping over descriptions. I think there is room for tightening. Also, I found the dialogue to be a little jarring. There is this really great whimsical nature being set up and then this harsh contrast with how Leia speaks to her dog. This may have been intentional but just looking st the initial few paragraphs, there felt like a disconnect in terms of overall tone.

  6. I like this. I like the mood and the imagery of the sprout in the desert earth. I don't mind that there's no action yet, because I feel like you've done such a good job of giving me a sense of character and setting that I'm intrigued enough. I'd keep reading :)

  7. "her bad-mouthed chihuahua" is telling. She knows who Po is. Also, I don't like that she's mean to her dog. It makes me dislike her. Yes, he may be annoying, but we don't know her or her dog so you can't assume that we think she's justified based on a single yap.


  8. It's not grabbing me and I'm not sure why. Leia throws me for a loop a little bit. It a silly superficial thing, but it's there for me. Also, the switch from the opening paragraph to feeding the dog takes me right out of it. Maybe that's the point.

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