Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #26

TITLE: Unlocked
GENRE: Thriller/Fantasy

Light no longer reflected around them, for they'd entered a large room, the ceiling at least twenty feet high. A musky smell filled the air, and a rhythmic drip, drip, drip dampened the ground. Tate Pittman slid off the coffin's cover, and the crack of wood echoed off unseen walls.

Hollow eye sockets stared at Tate and his employers from a corroded skull. Barker rubbed dirt off his face, while the Quiet One--Marcs--remained as still as the bones. Could this truly be what they'd searched weeks, months, years for?

Could this be ... Demus, the estranged priest?

Tate leaned closer, his light illuminating the decay. The Ephod covered the skeleton, magnificent, and just as Scripture described. Fine linen woven with gold, cerulean, violet and scarlet thread. At the front of the vest's shoulders: two pockets holding the bone tablets. Urim. Thummim.

For a moment he felt like the Tate Pittman in his first archaeology class all those years ago, listening to a lecture--no, an inspiration--of history rich with culture, tradition, legends.

Demus wore this vest, yes these very tablets, to communicate . . . with God.

Tate constructed a mental image of every detail, from the shades of walnut leather to the embedded Hoshen: four rows of three grooves stretching across the vest. But not one stone shined from the twelve grooves. Where are the Unblessed Stones?

As if in answer, the Quiet One pulled on a rounded container lodged in the ribcage.


  1. I like the idea here! It definitely drew me in, and the description was vivid. But I have to confess that when I came to the line "Could this be... Demus, the estranged priest?" I kinda laughed. Which is probably not the reaction you were going for. The '...' was a bit much.
    But again, I was definitely pulled in. (P.S. For the genre, it may be a better idea just to go with Fantasy. You don't need two genres, even if it is thrilling. Think of where you'd want it to be shelved in a bookstore.)

  2. Hooked.

    I really like the premise, a la Indiana Jones. There is a ton of potential with this story.

    Some of the sentences read awkwardly, but reading outloud during another edit will clean it up.

    Good Luck!

  3. The concept is intriguing, but the writing turned me off. Like Bethany, I thought the ellipses were too dramatic. I got bogged down in the description and wondered why words like "Ephod" and "Hoshen" were capitalized.

    Also, I'm confused as to who exactly is in this scene. So there's Tate, the dead guy ... Barker? The Quiet One? Marcs? And is Marcs one person or a group of people?

    On the whole, not hooked. But I could be after a good edit.

  4. "remained as still as the bones"

    Loved that line.

  5. Good voice, but I think describing eye sockets as hollow is overkill, if you will. If you just said "eye sockets stared at Tate and his employers from a corroded skull" or "a corroded skull stared Tate and his employers," it would read more smoothly.

    All in all, I'm not hooked.

  6. It feels like there are way too many names, personal nouns, descriptive titles, etc etc in thsi opening. List them all out and see what you think.

    For me, the overloading of names etc etc at the start of the book always turns me off. So many fantasy novels lose me early on because of this. It's tough to balance, when you're introducing a reader to your whole new world.

  7. I liked it.

    I thought you could use a new opening paragraph though. It feels like I'm coming in in the middle of the story, and I may be, but it should feel like a beginning. Perhaps give us a stronger sense of place? Where are they? You say a huge room, and I'm thinking room as in house or temple, but then there's that drip which suggests cave.

    Corrosion is what happens to metal, not bone.

    The Ephod covered the skeleton just like the prophesy foretold. WHich means what?

    Fine linen woven with . . . thread. What about it? Where is it?

    Perhaps a bit of revision with the focus on word choices and a bit more precision?

    Still, very interesting!

  8. As a reader/writer of fantasy, this piece got my attention. I like the descriptions and am intrigued by the Quiet One.

    We need a little more grounding as to the where/when of this piece. The only hint I had was the use of 'light' and not 'torch' and that helped me place it in a modern context, which is still a fairly broad range of time. The 'archeology class' was another hint, but the study of ancient cultures is not new and this did nothing to help me place the story in a timeframe. Perhaps some hint of the character's style of dress would help us.

  9. Not sure I’d read on. There was a lot of information to retain in this small part of the bigger picture. I wonder how info laden it will be. I like the idea but I think the execution needs a bit more emotion and a little less detail. The idea is definitely worth the effort.

  10. I wasn’t hooked. It was hard for me to tell who was in the room – Tate, his employers, a corpse, and who is The Quiet One? One of Tate’s employers? It’s an intriguing scene to open your novel with, but we don’t get a good read on Tate’s reactions to everything (other than an understated sense of awe or reverence, which is very nice but not quite enough). I thought we’d get some of what Tate is feeling in the paragraph where Tate thinks back to his first archeology class, but again, it’s not enough. You’re reporting on the scene instead of letting your character (and the reader) experience it. I think you intend this to be a big moment for Tate, but it doesn’t come across that way.

  11. i had to read through it a few times to get who was all in the room, and maybe i was right, maybe i was wrong. this is not something you want a reader to have to do.
    i like the indy (as in dr. jones) feeling to it.