Wednesday, November 4, 2009

17 Secret Agent

TITLE: Against Blood and Fire
GENRE: Fantasy

Jim was lost. Sort of. Who actually got lost on the way home? He'd taken a wrong turn, was all—an understandable move, considering the upheaval in his life.

Downshifting, he eased the convertible he drove past an idle construction truck and coasted to the side of the road. Time to figure out the state-of-the-art GPS contraption that came with this rental. He slid his fashion-statement sunglasses to the top of his head and tapped the address to his beach-side condo into the navigational system.

The screen went blank.

He pinched the bridge of his nose. Perfect! But what had he expected? Ever since he hurt his knee, the governing rule of his life seemed to be, If it ain't broke, it will be soon.

Leaning against the headrest, he glanced at the darkening cloud cover. With his luck, he'd get rained on, too.

An orange-vested Caltrans worker with shovel in hand edged from the far side of the construction truck. "Hey, buddy! You can't park there." He strode toward the Porsche. "You'll have to move your—hey, don't I know you?"

Easing his foot onto the clutch, Jim shifted to first. "Nope. We've never met."

"But I know you." The man nudged his white hardhat further back on his head. "Didn't you use to play basketball?"

Jim glanced into the Caltrans worker's expectant eyes—not the look of someone intentionally pouring acid into an open wound. "I've played some."

"Wait, I remember, you were just in the news."


  1. You've got some extra words here that make it a little distracting. The first paragraph is fine, right until you say, "...considering the upheaval in his life." It's somewhat heavy-handed. Maybe replace it with "all things considered".

    "..the convertible he drove". Cut the he drove part. The fashion statement sunglasses could be anything. Are they purple with feathers? Are they jet black and formed to his face? What kind of fashion statement is he trying to make?

    It's interesting, and I'd probably give it another page or two. Hope this helps.

  2. I’m giving this a cautious yes. I get that he’s a ‘retired’ basketball player, who’s had some trouble. If it’s basketball, though, he’s got to be at lease 6’6” and you’ve missed some comedy with the rental car.
    I’m also right on with Walter on the extra words, and ‘the convertible he drove’.

  3. I liked the scene but got hung up on the writing. For instance, "he eased the convertible he drove past..." would read more smoothly as "he eased his convertible past..." Also, the internal dialogue sounds too feminine; I'm having a hard time believing that this is how a man, especially an athletic man, would think.

    On the whole, not hooked.

  4. What you seem to want to do here is introduce the fact that this is a former basketball player who was just in the news, and that his life is all-a-tumble. OK so far -- but your decision to introduce these elements by having him wind up in a conversation with a Caltrans worker is, to be blunt, dull as dishwater. Unless the Caltrans worker is a serial killer or something. Also, he can't find his way to the beach? All he has to do is drive west to the Pacific. Sorry, but there's really nothing here to make me read further.

  5. It isn't a really hook-y opening. The writing could be tightened up some. I tend to agree with what Travener said about the conversation with the Caltrans worker and getting lost feeling a bit inelegant in terms of how story elements are introduced. I will admit I am a little curious how this thoroughly contemporary opening will lead us to a fantasy ms.

  6. Hooked.

    I love the governing rule of his life.

    I agree with others that you can lose "he drove" but other than that the writing seems very clean. I have a feel for this guy already and want to read on to see what other trouble will befall him.

    (heh heh my word verification is sperm--that should have fallen on the "fish that swims up the urine stream" story)

  7. I like it but I think you could up the intensity. The fact that his GPS broke like everything else seems to be leading to a HUGE problem. That hooked me, but then the construction guy recognizing him is not a huge problem.

    I like the writing style and I would probably read more.

    Good Luck,


  8. Jim sounds incompetent but I like his governing rule.

    I'd read on because I'm wondering why the mention of him playing basketball is akin to acid being poured into a wound, and because I want to know why he was just in the news.

  9. I like that he's a professional basketball player. It makes this seem a bit more interesting. I'd read on to see how this unexpected character fits into a fantasy.

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  11. It's a slower opening, but the writing is good and the character is nicely set up. I'm interested to see where it leads. Hooked.

  12. I didn't mind this as an opening. Jim's obviously in a bad place psychologically and I'd like to know why.

  13. I agree with the others - take out the 'he drove' from the start - it's obvious he's driving it.

    I think I would read on, just to find out where you bring the fantasy element into the story, and also to see how Jim eventually gets to his flat.