Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #20

TITLE: The Faithful
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

The bar went silent the moment the whiskey bottle struck the floor.

Raine Morgan lurched away from the table, ignoring the shattered glass in his wake. A shout rang out. Spinning on his heels, he slipped on liquor, avoiding a hard blow to his jaw. He pushed the figure away, turning his attention to the man on the floor. He came to a full stop, preparing for the next attack.

Turrell rose, glass cascading from his suit. "Keir's dog," he hacked blood as he spoke. A growl erupted from his throat as he shot headlong towards Raine. Each sloppy step threw him side to side.

Raine stepped to the right. Jaiden caught him from behind, pushing him back into his friend's path.

Raine slammed against the wall. Turrell drove his fists into the flesh below Raine's ribcage. Raine clenched his teeth as heat rolled through him in waves - larger and faster with each strike.

Raine jerked his knee up, the man's nose caving and shattering with the force. Turrell's head flung back as he recoiled. Raine pulled himself upright.

Jaiden swung. Raine twisted his body, crashing his foot sideways into Jaiden's shin. Jaiden's fist collided with the wall. Plaster and paint flecks exploded onto the wood floor. Raine kicked again, spasms erupting through his leg, and Jaiden collapsed. The sickening crack of bone resonated in the hushed air.


  1. While it's a good idea to pick up in the middle of an action scene, this is kind of busy.
    4 names, plus a name used as a swear word. Do we have to have so many people in the fight? And do they all have to have names?
    I'm just not seeing this clearly. Why did the bottle hit the floor? Why is it in Morgen's wake? Why do people have broken glass on them?

  2. I am all for starting mid action. Especially if that's the feel of the book- I say go for it. But as a reader I need something to anchor me in a story before we go charging in. I agree cutting down on the names to maybe just two (if the person he's fighting is important) might help.

    Nice work but needs some tightening up.

  3. Good description but I'm not sure if I'm intrigued. Maybe if we get some of the MC's thoughts, we'd be more vested in finding out what happens to him?

  4. I wasn't hooked for two reason. 1. I don't know why they're fighting, so I don't know who to root for in the fight.

    2. The fight doesn't seem to flow. For some reason, I'm feeling a pause between each and every swing. I'm not feeling any continuity that these blows are coming one right after the other. Morgan comes to a full stop before attacking Turrell and allows him to get up, curse, spit, growl and run toward him. Bones don't crunch when they get hit, but afterwards, when they fall down. Perhaps rethink the choreography of the fight.

  5. The exception to the "start with action" rule seems to be "unless we don't learn anything about who the characters are or why they're doing what they're doing." If this fight is definitely the right place to start your novel, you could wrap it up more quickly -- to get to the explanations of who, why, etc., and also to keep it from feeling slow.

    Another option: Throw in a few key details along with the fight. Clue us in about who the main character is and why he's in this situation.

    Good luck! I like the opening sentence, by the way. Ominous.

  6. I like the idea of action, but I seem to be lost in the sea of names I don't know yet, and can't relate to the person I'm supposed to root for.

    I really loved the first sentence.

  7. The description of the fight had a weird jerkiness to it. I couldn't quite pin down exactly what was happening. First a whiskey bottle hits the floor and Raine slips and avoids being hit and then there's a man on the floor. I feel like I'm reading every other sentence of a paragraph. There's a connection missing for me.

    I would pare down the sheer amount of action going on here because it gets confusing. You have four people (none of whom we know) in a drunken bar fight. It's too much.

  8. This doesn't hook me because I have no idea who these characters are, why they're fighting or why I should care. Maybe you could work in some of Raine's thoughts to give us at least some idea of what's going on/who he is. Or start right before this with whatever started their fight.

    The fight description itself is also confusing in places because we don't have enough context. For instance, "his friend's path"--I didn't know if 'his' meant Raine or Jaiden.

  9. Didn't hook. I'm sorry. I just had trouble getting through the action, figuring out why I should sympathize with the main character involved in a fight, and keeping up with what was going on.

    I like starting with action, but I feel like I should know who I'm rooting for, and why.

  10. I'm actually not a big fan of starting in the middle of a huge action scene. I'd prefer to see this scene just a few moments earlier, so I have some sense of Raine and therefore a reason to care about him in the fight. So while I think this is well-written, my personal preference would be to back the scene up a bit, give us a sense of Raine, and then go into the fight.

  11. The first line grabbed my attention. I saw that bar, heard the crash then the silence, and smelled the whiskey. Excellent.

    2nd para lost me. I had to read it twice to picture the scene. Why use "figure?" How did the man get on the floor? Did the fight just started? Or did Raine got into a fight and tried to walk away?

    Also, I didn't know why there's a fight. Did Raine say something? And who is he fighting with? Drunken friends? Old enemies?

    4 out of 7 paras started with "Raine."

    If I knew why this is happening, I might read more.

  12. I loved the hook the first sentence gave. I got confused with all the combatants though.

    Some explanation about why they were fighting, other than it's Saturday and they're drunk and stupid, which is what we're left with with no alternative.

    Not sure I'd keep reading, although the beginning was great.

  13. I like scenes starting with action but I somehow couldn’t picture this properly. I didn’t understand how ‘he slipped on liquor, avoiding a hard blow to his jaw.’ Also the abundance of names confused me a bit. Would be better to start with fewer names in the first 250 words, I think.

  14. I like the first line as well as the concept of opening in the middle of the action, but you have

    1) character soup - too many names and nothing we know about them and

    2) narrative detachment - this is cinematic in the sense that we're watching this with a wide lens. The problem with doing that in a novel is that since we can't see the character on a screen we can't connect with them and feel what they feel.

    Also, despite the accurate description of a fight, the sentences read very formulaic. "Character/Action verb" and as a result I wouldn't keep reading.