Wednesday, September 9, 2009

39 Secret Agent

GENRE: Fantasy

It begins with a song.

It was not a particularly cheerful tune, but neither was it melancholy. Instead the keening melody of a sailor’s whistle danced upon the wind like a bee among flowers, sure evidence the player’s mind loitered elsewhere. It merely waited, marking time until something more interesting came along.

Trevelan Keep graced a steep hilltop in the center of an island adorning the center of the bluest, most perfectly round lake in creation. Ringed around the island’s coast lay a harbor town before which ships constantly came and went, pleasure craft skimming along the surface with sails dyed raucous color combinations. The High Chieftain’s keep served as the lodestone of comfort and security for all.

The breeze carried the simple tune over a blooming meadow to the ears of a lone rider on a narrow, winding road leading from the town sheltered in Trevelan’s wake to the keep itself. He had been away much longer than intended, but returning the favor of a close friend was not a duty that could be consciously foregone. A handsome man of middle years—black of hair, green of eye, and usually appearing younger than his age—his exhaustion showed in lines about the face hewn deeper than he would like.

The music had a magical effect upon him. His head lifted, following the sound as a sunflower reaches for the sun, and his eyes, dull with fatigue, gleamed new life.


  1. Sorry. I'm confused. Is Trevelan Keep a person or the name of the town? I'd rather get to the lone rider, who I think is the mc, and know more about him and I suggest weaving the beautiful description through the action. Not hooked, but with some rewriting, maybe.

  2. Is the lone rider the MC? Your idea of building a setting is great and your text is excellent but without seeing more,not sure. I am already moving on because I am trying too hard to paint a picture of what you are writing and then you bring in a lone rider, so my shift goes from what I think is an island, to who is singing or hearing this song. Sorry, just got lost.

  3. This lost me as well. I'm really one for starting when the main character's life just went down hill- that may be happening here- but it's not clear. I might suggest pulling us into the character and his world faster, who is he? What's happening?

  4. Hmm, you intro a sailor, who is not the MC, then, after describing the town/keep at length, you finally "tell" us everything about the MC but his name. With the MC just having returned from a journey, I'd think seeing home would have much more of a magical effect on him than a sailor's whistle.

    Do the song, the descriptions of the town and the High Chieftain have a significant impact on the story? If not, I'd move the MC's appearance closer to the beginning.

    I'd probably keep reading, but only because I want to know more about the plot.

  5. This is familiar. I think I've seen it before.

    At any rate, the writing is lovely, but I find the scene-setting and then zooming in to the story (like in the movies) not to my taste. Clearly it has worked in the past, and this is a personal thing. But I'm a character girl.

  6. the first sentence should be in the same past tense as the rest of the writing. "began with a song"

    the sentence "Instead the keening melody of a sailor’s whistle danced upon the wind like a bee among flowers" could be shortened to "the keening sailor's whistle..."

    song implies a voice and lyrics. If this is a whistle I'd start first sentence "It began with a tune"

    the language and setting painted a clear picture, and was well written. I do wonder if it would be more compelling, however, through the character's eyes? I'm not sure, it worked for me as is.

  7. The descriptions are lovely but I'm afraid that this didn't hook me.

  8. I love the descriptions, especially of the melody as a bee. On the other hand, keening and danced give opposing impressions of the sound.

    The transition from the melody to describing the keep and the island is abrupt. Perhaps a line to help the transition will reduce confusion. Also, another transition from the high level description of the island to the melody carrying to the traveler's ear might help.

    On the other hand, a lot of critics say that one should start with action in the opening scene to hook the reader. This opening meanders a bit like the melody it describes and doesn't quite have action until the very last paragraph.

    I'm not hooked, unfortunately.

  9. The phrasing is absolutely wonderful. Very well done.

    There are a number of run on sentences. And I think you could simply put a period in place of a comma in seveal places, with no other changes needed.

    This sounds like the end of a story instead of a beginning. With a simple hint of forthcoming conflict, you could have me solidly hooked.

  10. Writing's nice but I think we need a sniff of a conflict to keep us pluggig away.

  11. This is quite nice. I like it. I have no idea what to expect from the plot itself, but the feeling here is right. :)

  12. I agree with those who are cheering your scene setting. I do like a nice scene setting and this is nice. I like the cinematic feel of the writing, the visual impact.

    That said, it's a bit overwritten for my taste (graced and adorned in the same sentence, for example.) Also, I worry when first pages of fantasy novels have phrases like "not a duty that could be consciously foregone" because I smell Renaissance Fair banter. In the same vein, I'd prefer "black haired, green eyed" to "black of hair, green of eye" even though the latter is more poetic.

    But I'm a sucker for black haired, green-eyed men and for castles in lakes so I'd read on. Definitely.

  13. I really really liked this. Every bit of it. My only comment was that you could lose the "his exhaustion showed in lines about his face hewn deeper than he would like" because if he was that tired, he probably wouldn't care what he looked like, unless a damsel was looking at him...

  14. I got lost amongst the pretty words, but it doesn't really hook me. I need either action or some intriguing characteristics to keep me going.

  15. Beautiful stuff, but... I started to drift off between the lovely words and the song, and by the time the lone rider who is black of hair and green of eye showed up on the road, I needed a cup of coffee. Sorry.

    You write well, but everything is just too perfect. I would try to bring it down to earth. Some of the posters above gave great suggestions about language.

  16. Sorry. Not hooked. I didn't feel any conection to your MC. I'd suggest perhaps cutting the entire second parg. that way the whistle you start with brings us directly to the MC. As is, it completely disappears in that second parg. and is suddenly revived in the third. You can always describe the keep when the MC actually gets there.

    I'd also suggest toning down the description. It seemed way overdone to me. For instance, what does 'the most perfectly round lake in all existence' really tell us? It tells us the lake is round. That's it. And when you get down to it, does it matter that the lake is round? Will that be important? If not, it's enough to say 'the lake."

    You do imagery well, but using it to describe everything makes it tedious to read. If you save it for the things that matter, it will stand out and add substance to the story.

  17. Lost me at keening melody of a sailor’s whistle danced upon the wind like a bee among flowers - too much imagery, too many prepositional phrases for me at this point.

    And too many adjectives follow, and black of hair, green of eye a bit too cute/ olde worlde for me.

    With all that complaining behind me, I like what happens in the last paragraph, and probably would not be able to stop myself from turning the page.

  18. Same comments as others: High on pretty words (if a little highfalutin in places), low on plot/character/stakes. Also, the title turned me off - too similar to that Sean Connery film DRAGONHEART.

  19. I"m also confused. I'd probably NOT keep reading.