Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #29

TITLE: Circling
GENRE: Thriller (set in England)

As he expected, nothing had happened since they started their watch; this was, after all, an exercise in futility.

Nevertheless, Lance-Corporal Nick Brady continued scanning the fields below, watching the wheat stalks bob and jostle in the occasional breeze as if a giant, invisible hand absently caressed them. Brady craned his neck from side to side to relieve the stiffness and looked down at Private Pete Miller, who was both a soldier under his command and his childhood friend.

Tonight, the full moon illuminated their hilltop position, reflecting on the silvery grass where Pete was lying. They would break camp before morning, once again leaving no sign of their nighttime presence.

Although he cradled binoculars in his lap, Pete gazed unaided at the valley below. His wedding ring glinted in the moonlight as he lifted a freckled hand to cover a wide yawn. "I'm shattered. What d'ya reckon?"

"Me? I'm wide awake." Brady turned his back to Pete. "Because surely any minute now, creatures from outer space are going to land, give us a wave, and say, "Oi lads, wanna come have a look-see?"

"Sod it, Brady! I've said I'm sorry. I didn't know we would both get stuck doing nutter duty."

Brady exhaled in a gusty sigh. Although it was Pete's fault they were out here, it had been three days now, and it was probably time to forgive him. "Fine, mate. But, fair warning, I'll not get in trouble for you ag-"

A distant squeal of tires interrupted him.


  1. first sentence needs to set up the MC's problem. Suggest you start with the second paragraph, taking out unneeded adverbs and weak, passive was verbs

    good luck

  2. I liked this, especially the dialogue at the end. But I didn't get the opening line until I'd finished the whole excerpt. Is there some way you could give us a better sense that these two guys are stuck out here because one of them cried alien?

    A few small writing issues: The lack of names in the opening paragraph was a little off-putting, and you might try finding another way to introduce Pete. "Brady ... looked down at Private Pete Miller, who was both a soldier under his command and his childhood" combines unnecessary stage direction with unnecessary telling. I'm sure you could bring him in more smoothly.

    Best of luck.

  3. I should really get out of bed earlier because I'm finding myself spending most of my time agreeing with everyone else instead of adding to the conversation...

    The dialogue is great. The descriptions are a little heavy at times, and the adverbs need to go. I'd cut and paste the first line just after " sign of their nighttime presence." You may want to introduce Pete through dialogue rather than description, but that's just a personal preference.

    Overall, it's not bad. A little fine tuning and this would have me hooked.

  4. This might be my favorite've set a wonderful scene here with just enough for me to see it in my head. Not too much, not too little. I get it an I want to know what happens!

  5. I don't have a sense of time or place here. If it's England, are these guys watching for an invasion, like in World War II?

    When I read about a character yawning on the first page, I start to yawn, too. I'd need something far more interesting than the squeal of tires to keep reading. I just don't see any thrills on the horizon here, although I do like the idea of the childhood friends off to war together.

  6. The beginning didn't do anything for me. You've basically said this guy is doing nothing and he's bored. Not very enticing. Perhaps start with the second parg?

    I thought the dialogue worked really well, and I was pretty much liking it until I got to the end and the distant squeal of tires.

    I'm supposed to wonder what's going to happen next, but it just fell flat for me. The tires are squealing in the distance, so they don't seem threatening in any way or even related to these two guys, and from the set up, I was expecting something bigger, more mysterious (like aliens and crop circles), so distant screeching tires was a disappointment. I think you need something more there for a page turner.

  7. This picked up for me in the fourth paragraph, once the dialog starts and we learn that they are out there being punished for “crying alien” (as an earlier commenter put it). If you could get this information into your first paragraph, you’d have a smoother and more engaging opening. As is, I’m on the fence. I’d read a few more paragraphs, but with limited enthusiasm.

  8. get the rest of it to have the same flow and personality as the dialogue and i think you'll be more on track.