Wednesday, February 10, 2010

25 Secret Agent

TITLE: Trust
GENRE: Science Fiction

“Could you kill someone if I asked you to?” Anastassia Delyn thrummed her fingers on the table between us.

“You mean, if they attacked you?” I’d accepted the job of acting as her bodyguard, but I didn’t see myself as a thug.

She sat back, shifting her long, black armored coat. “Vayen, you’ve worked in security for several years now. Surely you understand the necessity of taking preemptive measures.”

Could I pull the trigger if the planetary advisor to the entire Narvan System told me to?

Having reached head of security two years ago, I had little hope of further promotion. My future with Sonia and the life we planned to share together didn’t hold much promise beyond mediocrity. Though I was sure I owed this interview to the fact Delyn had been my dead brother’s fiancĂ©, I couldn’t have dreamed of a bigger break.

“Yes, of course.”

“Good. First order of business.” Her human mind opened a telepathic connection to mine. The light-skinned face of a Caltessian with white hair past his shoulders and a determined gleam in his eyes popped into my head. “If you see this man, kill him.”

“Not a problem.” I’d waited for orders to kill one of them for years.

“Second.” She pulled a gun from inside her coat and slid it across the table. “Once he finds out you work for me, he’ll want to kill you too.”

Great. From bodyguard, to thug, to target all in less than an hour.


  1. Hah! I like this. My favorite was the reaction "Not a problem." I'd waited for orders to kill one of them for years. Because it comes after the not so sure vibe I'm getting from the MC.

    Though, is Vayen a woman or man? I'm thinking maybe man? But I don't know. I'd like to know that sooner. And the last line is what makes me smile and want to read further. Hooked.

  2. definitely would make me read further. The first line and last line totally rock - don't change them unless a phalanx of agents and publishers threatens your first-born.

    Only possible change is take another look at the second paragraph and the fourth paragraph. It's a tough balance here, keeping things snappy while still explaining enough, but possibly you might want an extra sentence or to helping to flesh out the point about the doubts. One good approach might be to mention some physical sensation the main character feels upon being faced with this choice.

    Anyway, good job!

  3. Nice opening and closing hook I found it easy to follow, and even the little bits of back-story were seeded in unobtrusively. With the mention of a 'telepathic connection,' you effectively set the stage for the genre.
    I would definitely read more.

  4. This flowed really well. You've got a nice mix of dialogue and basic description, without bogging us down in one or the other. I'm assuming you plan on filling in the descriptive blanks at some point, but right now you've accomplished what you set out to do: you've hooked me.

  5. I think your opening is great, your hook is fantastic, but there's two things that I think would improve this and make me totally hooked.

    First, the backstory seems just "stuck in there." Try to relate whatever information is absolutely necessary with his thoughts. In the "if they attacked you?" paragraph, don't stop to tell us that he'd accepted a job of bodyguard, make him think something that shows us. Maybe:

    "You mean, if they attacked you?" There was a difference between being a bodyguard and a thug. At least in my mind.

    And for the "Having reached" paragraph, show his thoughts boing from "Could I pull the trigger?" to "Could I do it if it was the only way to get the job that would give Sonia and I a future?" to "Would I be stupid enough to let go of this big break for a minor squabble like this?"

    That way you never force the reader to pause the screen, but they still get the required information.

    Hope this helps!

  6. I second the comment--is this a man or woman? Not quite sure.

    Personally, I'd like a bit more dithering in his mind whether he could kill in cold blood or not. The way it's set up now, I don't like your character.

    The writing flowed very well.

  7. Firstly, is your character male or female. I was wondering this all the way through the piece, and went looking for clues second time round when I reread it. Still didn't find it, even after analysing the name of your character.

    First person narrative was strong. I was grounded in Vayen's POV immediately. I liked his/her impressions and perceptions, there was no doubt how this whole scene impacted him/her.

    Setting - not a lot but the small details did a fantastic job of conveying your world. The telepathic mind connection, planetary advisor, the brief description of the being Vayen is to kill.

    A familiar, done before premise - bodyguard turned assassin - but it was your character's voice that made it interesting.

    One observation - Vayen came across as so adamant about not becoming a thug that his/her change of mind was sudden and a touch unrealistic. He/she had made much of not becoming one I thought nothing could sway him/her from that decision. Perhaps you could strength the reason as to why he/she capitulated so quickly. Was it something to do with the race of the being he'd been asked to kill? I'm guessing it was, so make more of this. The reason might not be one the reader agrees with but the logic is reason enough to the character and that's what convinces the reader. Obviously this may undergo a change later in the story but for now the reader needs believability in the sudden change of heart. Give them one and they'll hang in there to see how the story develops.

    I enjoyed reading this entry.

  8. Hooked. Great opening line, great closing line. Interesting middle!

    And I agree with Kathleen about the way to handle the bit of back story you have here. Don't stop the story for explanations. If you have to get them in and you can't do it through action and dialogue, save them for a quiet moment like a ride in the car, waiting in line, etc.

  9. I agree with most of the comments above. Great opening line, and how did you work it to finish on that last line? The 250 word limit is so arbitrary, I so badly wanted to slip the next paragraph into my own entry because it ended at a really bad point, but you finished this segment beautifully.

    One point of confusion for me was where "Her human mind opened a telepathic connection..." makes me think that Vayen is not human. If we're dealing with two humans here, I suggest dropping the word as it emphasises what I'd already assumed. If not, then I'd like to know this pretty quickly.

    Would I read on? Yes. Intrigued, and I love your voice.

  10. I liked this. The only paragraph that made me pause was the one that mentioned Sonia. When he said all their life promised was mediocrity, it made me think their relationship was mediocre. Perhaps you could reword it a little to show he wants more for both of them (if that is what is meant).

  11. I liked this one!! The tension here is great! Nice job.

  12. Nice beginning. Great question to hook a reader and give us an idea of what's to come. Sets the tone immediately.

    I actually had to stop halfway through and start over as I got lost in the names. Anastasia is such a memorable and interesting name that I didn't pay attention to her last name. So when you talked about Sonia and then Delyn in quick succession, I thought these were both new characters.

    I keep picturing Vayen as female. You might want to make Vayen's gender clear early on. Is Vayen human? I got the idea that it's not and therefore maybe there's no male or female.

    Why does a bodyguard not have a gun already? Since Vayen "accepted" the job early in, I thought he/she was already doing the work. But maybe this is still the job interview?

    I like your world building here. Great start.

  13. I like the concept, but beware exposition through dialogue. I didn't find the dialogue always believable because it felt a bit transparently like telling the reader what they need to know about the plot. I think some more description about the setting and characters might have helped enliven this scene a bit rather than relying quite so much on the dialogue.

  14. I really liked the voice in this story. Very wry and funny.

    I agree with comments about the dangers of too much telling in dialogue, but I would certainly read on.

    I liked Kathleen McIvor's suggestions to show more.

  15. A big thanks to everyone for all your comments and suggestions! :)