Wednesday, November 4, 2009

44 Secret Agent

TITLE: What Elephants Know
GENRE: Fantasy

You ain’t ever got enough of it – not now, not ever.

You don’t ever want it on your hands, and it slips through the cracks when you need it the most.

Allen contemplated that bit of wisdom as he watched the soft downpour of pure white sand. The six-foot tall wrought iron hourglass reflected his face back to him as the last grains dropped into the lower vessel. The hourglass always made him feel small. He straightened his back, attempting to extend his five-foot-ten inches, his small wiry frame a testament to his somewhat hyper nature. He brushed at his sparse blond hair. His hairline had long ago lost its acquaintance with his forehead, and the fine lines in his brow threatened to merge into one large wrinkle. The wrinkle deepened as he squinted into the glass.

I’ve waited a long time for this.

The gigantic mechanized timepiece – the focal point of the magnificent garden – stood in the middle of the cobblestone court, watched over by the oldest oak tree in the world. The tree’s massive trunk and long limbs, gnarled and wrinkled and bent by time, had stood guard over the garden for over four thousand years. A breeze rose and sent a shiver through those twisted arms as the last grain of sand settled down onto the snow white dune.

So it begins.

Allen watched the warping of his image as the glass began its slow turn, the gears crying out in their stiffness.


  1. I have no idea what's going on here, so I'd pass...

  2. Not hooked.
    This was very difficult for me to read, I couldn’t establish the voice, motives, or action.

    I would skip the descriptions and find some action, some reason for me to care about this feller.

    That said, the “…fine lines in his brow threatened to merge into one large wrinkle…” sentence was cool. Talk about evoking an image. Loved it.

    But overall, I found myself wanting to skip ahead, see what is happening. And if your novel is the type that starts slow then explodes into action, you still need something in the first two paragraphs that makes me sit up and take notice.

    Keep at it…fantasy is my meat and potatoes so any new writer in that genre makes me want more. Work on something that creates Action and Confrontation.

    Best of Wishes.

  3. I like all of this, except the discription of the main character. I actually don't think you need the discription in this scene (which I am assuming maybe a short prologue).

    If this is in Allen's pov, then would he think of what he looks like and discribe himself in the details that are used at this important moment in his life?

    I'd read more.

  4. I think this might be stronger without the forced physical descriptions in the third paragraph. I'd recommend focusing on the action and tension, rather than the physical descriptions, which just slows down the pacing, IMHO.

  5. Hooked. Loved the title, loved the voice.

  6. I have to say that the character is the least compelling part of that sample. I really liked the other imagery, though.

  7. I can picture this as the beginning of a movie - the hourglass creaking as it turns for the first time in however long.

    I agree with the others that there's too much description of Allen though.

  8. Thanks for all of your comments. I'm a new writer and this will help me a great deal.

    Thanks again.

  9. Sybil -- I also like the imagery. You clearly have the ability to describe Allen and his world very well. I think all you need to make this really pop is to show what's at stake and why it should matter to Allen (and the reader), as right now he is merely a middle-aged man looking at an hourglass (one little nit -- is an hour glass actually considered mechanized?). But you paint a very vivid picture and that's not easy to do!

  10. I liked this, and I'm hooked (I think). Your descriptions flowed nicely, and your imagery was vivid. I actually didn't mind the description of the protagonist because I assume he's seeing his reflection in the glass.

    However. I think you can communicate a greater sense of urgency. Or anticipation. Or whatever feeling Allen's been feeling as he's waited a long time for this. Give us a better sense of his insides instead of focusing quite so much on his outsides, and you could really have something here.

    P.S. Love your title:)

  11. I liked the lines that were vague and philosophical in the beginning. The hour glass imagery is great. I expect the action to directly follow this sample, so I'd say that I'm hooked.

  12. Thanks, all. Yes, the action does follow, but I need to move it closer to the beginning. I love the hourglass, but I think it's going to go away in my revision. There's a stronger emotional component farther on. Need to get it closer to the start.

    I've learned a lot reading the comments on the other entries. Most of them are stellar.

    Still learning :-) Authoress, thanks so much for this!