Wednesday, August 19, 2009

3 Secret Agent

TITLE: Fatal Visions
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

He was being hunted.

Jaegar-Caleb Nikolaiev limped through tangled brush, fingers tightening around the gun as he quickened his pace, knowing full well that he could easily lose everything if he was captured. He glanced back in the direction he’d come from, back over the rocky ledges where thick smoke from the fire lifted in the air, snaking through the mountainside.

They were too damn close. Sometime around dawn the psionically enhanced agents had caught onto his trail. There had been no time to turn around and find another route of escape. They were already closing in. It was too late.

“Stop where you are going.”

J.C. slid through wet leaves, whipping around sharply at the sudden voice. His gaze searched through the shadows for movement, for the woman who’d spoken, but his suspicions were only confirmed when he saw that he was alone.

There was no one there.

“You don’t have time to ignore me.” The voice in his head reprimanded harshly. “I need you to listen. Go to the old mines.”

He’d officially lost it, he decided. It was the only explanation. Hearing voices was not exactly part of his mental arsenal of weapons. He’d finally gone off the edge and lost his sanity in this world where the monsters really did exist in the form of the men and women he served with... had served with. Monsters didn’t always hide in the closet and under the bed. Sometimes, they looked like regular people. Like him.


  1. Ah! I know somebody who's looking for more urban fantasies with male main characters....

    Yes, hooked.

  2. Liked it...not sure about psionically enhanced...but hate the name. Jaeger-Caleb??? It trips up the reader, sounds like a brand name or a shop. I'd call him JC and explain later.

  3. I got tripped up by several of the sentences here and so probably wouldn't ask for more. For example: "Stop where you are going.", "glanced back in the direction he'd come from" (probably betters suited as "the direction from which he'd come" or just "He glanced back over the rocky ledges..."), "psionically", his name. The concept is intriguing, but the writing could be cleaned up a little more.

  4. I agree with Keren David about his name. I don't mind that it's a lengthy, unfamiliar name, but right up front is a smack in the face. I'd just call him JC here, and later, maybe when he introduces himself to someone, he can use his full name. I listened to a panel at RWA where a bunch of editors pulled a pile of sample pages and slammed them all for dropping a full name in the opening sentences, because it was unnecessary (and overdone). No one wants to be in that pile. :-)

    I love the first line. I'm all about people being hunted. But it promises a tense beginning, and then you gave me a bunch of lengthy sentences with descriptive words. I'd keep the sentence with the tangled brush and the gun. Then I'd skip to the next paragraph... "They were too damn close." And then skip to your italics. If you're going to open with a scene of action, don't slow me down. Show me action.

  5. It hooked me right away. I did pass over his name, though.

  6. Semi-hooked. I didn't like the first line. You come right out and tell me he's being hunted. It's kind of like starting off a novel and saying, this is a love story.

    Your job is to show me that, and you do show it in what follows. The very next paragraph makes it evident in a much better way, so I'd say cut the opening line.

    I agree with the person who suggested cutting the description. Every time you use it, it stops the action.

    You might want to reconsider the paragraph where he slides thru wet leaves. As written, the leaves are whipping around at the sound of the voice, and you have his gaze searching, rather than having him searching.

    So story-wise, you hooked me. Writing-wise, I'd be hesitant.

  7. The name is definitely a hard stop while reading.Jaeger...puts me in mind of schnitzel or a shot, which isn't a bad thing but perhaps it would be easier for the flow of reading to reveal the nickname first and then the full name later.

    I think that the insertion of dialog between paragraphs of insight into his situation and thoughts keeps things moving nicely. The actual dialog phrasing could use improvement.

    There seemed to be a lot of interesting concepts: psionic enhanced agents, monsters that look like regular people, him as a monster, high stakes. He seems to be in the know, so it was surprising to me that he didn't think another person could project into his head.

    I wasn't hooked.

  8. The concept is cool, and as a fantasy reader it would tempt me, but the writing needs tightening to hook me. "Stop where you are going." So formal. Cut out the adverbs - you don't need them. Your first line is telling, not showing. you're in an action sequence and there are "was's" everywhere, which is indicative of showing.

    I know how hard it is to set-up a fantasy world in addition to showing us everything else - your character, the situation, and so on. My suggestion is to revise and try again.

  9. I'm intrigued enough that I'd keep reading. You have a tense opening sprinkled with hints of danger and intrigue. I especially liked the last sentence and as soon as I read it, I wanted to read more.

    I do think the "stop where you are going" dialogue did sound a little bit too formal. But that's a super easy fix.

  10. I do see some issues with the name, the writing (definitely can be cleaned up -- should be, in fact) but I'm hooked.

    Very hooked, oddly. I would read further, but if the writing became an issue it'd be one of those good-story-but-not-great-writing cases.

  11. I can feel the tension of being hunted! And I'm dying to know more about this crazy voice in his head.
    I'd read on - I'm hooked!

  12. I'm sorry, but I'm not entirely hooked. It doesn't feel very fresh to me, especially the bit where he thinks he's lost it.

  13. Pretty well hooked, but not entirely there.

    In the first paragraph, the phrase, "knowing full well..." seemed too expository for a first sentence. Maybe change this up to state what the consequences are if he doesn't get away (something like, "...pace. The threat of torture and beheading spurring him on.").

    The first line of mental dialogue is clunky. Use a contraction ("you are" to "you're") to make it flow better.

    In the last paragraph, the sentence, "Hearing voices was not exactly part of his mental arsenal of weapons," sound ridiculous because no one would consider that a weapon. You could change it to something more like, "Hearing voices was an attack on his mental arsenal of weapons." That's a really bad sentence I wrote, just a quickie, but you need to differently compare hearing voices and mental weapons.

  14. You're over-explaining a little, and that first line has got to go. It should be a textbook example of telling instead of showing, and the following paragraph shows what you just told. On the other hand you do communicate something of the urgency a hunted person must feel.

    Jaeger-Caleb? If he's huntED, why name him the German word for HuntER? Awkward, very awkward.

  15. I think this sounds promising with a bit of work. I agree with all those who say to just use JC to start with. I tripped over the name too.

  16. I'm gonna echo the suggestion to just start with the name J.C. instead of his full name -- it will help keep the reader in the moment rather than pulling him/her out with the odd name. Your worldbuilding reflects the dark atmosphere and adds to the tension. Consider shortening your sentences to add the tension at certain places, as longer sentences tend to make the reader slow down. I want to know why J.C. is on the run and would be willing read more.

  17. There's potential here. We have immediate conflict and action, and the hint of a romance. All good things. I'd continue reading for a few pages but ultimately I think the writer probably has more work to do to hone her writing skills, trim long sentences, cut adjectives, etc. It should be clear whether J.C. is hearing the woman in his head, or somewhere in the trees. If in the trees, the dialogue should not be in italics.