Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #18

TITLE: Kunitsu Eyes
GENRE: Fantasy

The moon was calling him again. Akinobu opened his eyes in the ink black of the little room, and lay for a moment, listening to his mother's breathing. She showed no sign of being disturbed, and the building around them was as nearly-silent as an old bamboo inn could be. Very well. It was the moon.

Akinobu rolled off the futon and stood, careful to make no noise. It took only a moment to slide the door open, only another moment to step through, shut it noiselessly and pace down the hall, careful of the creaking board, careful of the sleeping patrons in the rooms around them.

The Inn always smelled like wet bamboo and sake. Akinobu paced, silent, finding his way by the slivers of moonlight from the shuttered windows. No one in the common area. Two samurai slept in the warm rooms that backed against the hot spring. He wondered if he could find some excuse to sneak in and see their swords, but if the Innkeeper caught him, he would be beaten, and if the samurai caught him they would probably cut off his head.

Just outside the Inn's back door, he stepped into his wooden geta, eyes already on the sky. A high mist hid the stars, but the moon shown bright. The light prickled along his skin and made the hair on the back of his neck bristle. He shivered once, as the cold night air seeped through the seams of his thin shirt.


  1. You have some lovely descriptions in this opening, but I have to admit, they're not enough to pull me in.

    I want to know more about Akinobu right off the bat, not his surroundings.

    I was also confused by the sentences "Very well. It was the moon." in your first paragraph. They don't seem to track with the rest of the paragraph the way it is written. Does he think that the "sound" that awakened him was his mother and then discovers that it was the moon "calling" him? It needs to be clarified.

    I think you've got a great voice, though, and with a little reworking of the opening, I would be interested to read more.

  2. I hate the first paragraph. "Very well. It was the moon." conveys no meaning. I'd keep the second sentence and cut the rest.

    In the second para, remove the second use of "moment" and I'd replace the comma after "hall" with an em dash.

    Why is "Inn" capitalized unless the proper name of the place is simply "Inn."

    In the 3rd para, is Akinobu pacing or leaving? Pacing implies he is staying in one area, but he's getting out of the inn, right?

    Nice, descriptive use of language here. Good luck! (but inside I admit I'm thinking: please, please don't be a werewolf. I can't take anymore of them.)

  3. I wasn't hooked, but I did see the potential here. You have lots of lovely images here, but as someone else said, you need more.

    The main problem, I think, is that's it's mostly passive and telling. Consider the 2nd paragraph -

    Akinobu rolled off the futon and stood, careful to make no noise.

    Don't tell us. Show him creeping silently from the futon. Show him being careful not to bump anything.

    It took only a moment to slide the door open,

    don't tell us. Show us. He slid the door open.

    only another moment to step through, - and stepped through

    shut it noiselessly and pace down the hall, - did he pace down the hall (a back and forth movement) or tiptoe.

    careful of the creaking board, - show him stepping lightly around or over it.

    In other words, don't tell us what he did. Let him actually do it. In most cases it's as simple as changing a word or two. For instance - the inn always smelled like wet bamboo and sake.

    That's you telling us. Take out always.

    The room smelled like wet bamboo and sake. Now your MC is doing the smelling.

    They're small changes, but if you make those small changes through the entire piece, you'll see how much more real it all feels.

  4. I like this. The writing is smooth, the descriptions are evocative without going overboard, and your main character’s actions are clear. There’s a slight hint of danger that kept me on edge – the combination of Akinobu creeping around at night while everyone sleeps, an activity he seems accustomed to, with the threat of a beating or the samurai’s sword hanging the over the scene. Nothing big happens, but I am eager to see where Akinobu goes.

  5. I loved this. I'm a big fantasy fan and I've heard that many publishing houses are looking for multicultural fantasy stories (like Stacey Whitmore's Tu Publishing which got bought by someone whose name I can't recall right now). Check into them!

    I had one tiny issue- the word "paced" had me thinking he was well, pacing, back and forth. But I don't really think that is what he's doing. I think stole would work better- stole silently finding his way....

  6. i was marginally hooked. i don't really read fantasy, maybe that's why.

    i like your writing. it's clean and precise and flows well. i would ditch the repeat of the moonin the first graph.

  7. I like the writing here. For the most part it's clean and precise. There are a few instances where you can remove some excess verbiage (e.g. "the building was a silent as an old bamboo inn could be"), but for the most part your writing is pretty tight.

    I would like to be in his head a little bit more. The POV is third person, but it's pulled back pretty far - you're describing Akinobu, rather than showing him (as pointed out above). I think getting a little closer to the character would probably fix this.

    I would read on - very interested to see how the Japanese theme plays out with a fantasy novel.