Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #47

TITLE: Mouths
GENRE: YA Fantasy

“I cast Elliot's Greatest Missile Storm.” Derek crossed his arms. He glared past the dungeon map littered with miniature statues representing his fallen comrades, daring Randall Hampton to argue.

Randall took the bait. “That's fine, but it's going to take several seconds to prepare the spell. I'll cross my fingers that you dodge the incoming dragon wing, two claws, and tail.” One corner of his lips twitched up. He took a sickening amount of pleasure in screwing his players over to see how they'd get out of it. While Derek and his three companions had done well up to this point, it looked like their dungeon master might have thrown them a curveball they couldn't hit.

Unless, that is, the barbarian had done enough damage to the dragon before getting ransacked by its poisonous claws of death. Derek could only cross his fingers.

“I've already prepared Elliot's,” Derek said. “I did it before the barbarian kicked the bucket.”

The other three players, the barbarian, their bard, and their cleric, flipped their heads back and forth between the drama.

Randall lifted an eyebrow. “Okay, fine. What's the save?”


Whoops of excitement filled the room. Randall held out his hand for Derek's calculations.

Derek passed his worksheet over. He could do this. He had to. If Ianen Hollysword, elfen sorcerer extraordinaire, died, then he'd have to roll another character. Which would really suck.


  1. Starting with a D and D game was new to me, and I liked the immediate conflict that was set up through the game. I thought the voice was appropriate, but did not catch on that it was Derek's pov until the third para. Don't have an idea where this is going at this point, but would read on to see if Derek and his comrades do indeed defeat the dragon master.

  2. I loved the D&D setting, even though a save of 64?! Which version are you using?

    The way this reads, I kind of wonder if the D&D game is going to lead into the players being transported into the game world where they have to play out for real. If that's the case...meh, be careful.

  3. This bored me. Maybe, I'm just not a big enough fan of D&D but this wouldn't be enough conflict for me to continue reading. I need to get a better sense of the character before I care about something as trivial as the outcome of a board game. Why does it matter if he loses?

  4. You have instant conflict which is good, but how will this impact the story?
    I think someone would have to be a D&D fan to get hooked on this, unless the story grabbed us really quick.

    You have echo words and phrases, crossed arms, crossed fingers 2x.

    I'd give it another page or two, but not much more unless the story unfolded in those two pages.

  5. I like the characterization, and I like the idea of a D&D game setting up for something else, because I find that most stories work quite well if they begin right before the major conflict. But I would need it to happen pretty quickly after these lines, becuase I don't know much about D&D, and that alone wouldn't be enough to sustain my interest.

  6. The writing's good, but I wonder about starting with a board game. As Ashley said, what's at stake? Why does it matter if he wins or loses? It's just a game. Perhaps if there's a bet on where he'll win some money or something if he wins, or he can't stand the dungeonmaster and wants to show him up. If he has a reason for wanting to win so badly it immediately ups the tension.

    And I'm thinking the same way as Torey, that they'll get transported into a real D & D world, that perhaps that missile storm will really occur, and then things will get exciting. But as far as these 250 words go, it does lack tension, suspense, or any sense of intrigue. There's no - Gee, I wonder what will happen next.

  7. Sorry, this just wasn't my cup of tea. It seemed like a bunch of role playing guys and a d&d game. I guess how I felt about it was that I wouldn't want to play D&D let alone read about people playing D&D.

  8. Not a fan of D&D. Don't know anything about it. Starting off with this might appeal to D&D fans, but I was pretty much lost.
    Not hooked...

  9. I don't know anything about D & D. I was completely lost reading this.

    That being said, if I understood the context, the back and forth dialogue was good.

  10. Not hooked yet...but it could be interesting. I'd want to know what the tie in to D&D is. Like some of the other folks have commented, your audience might be restricted to folks who play the game. Also- game playing into real world has been done- alot. (But to be fair not recently :)). It's difficult with only 250 words to see what the tension is, so it's hard to say it you need more or not. If your audience is teens at a gaming convention though- you'll have a sure winner :).

  11. I loved this. Maybe it's my age showing through, but I laughed as soon as I began reading. Starting with an in-play game of D&D (or something similar) is awesome, but be careful - it will lose a lot of readers just because it's not their thing. On the other hand, you'll grab quite a few as well. Again, just be careful how you use it.

  12. I’m not quite sure what is happening here.

    Although they seem to be playing a game, I’m not familiar with it or know the rules so I’m unsure of what’s at stake.

    I also don’t know what the larger conflict of this piece is going to be.

    Additionally, I didn’t get a feel for the characters so I am not invested in their story.

    The main problem is that this is mostly all detached action. I'm not sure who my main character is or what his voice is or what he's thinking or feeling here.

    I wouldn’t read further.

  13. Oh idea of hell...trapped in a room with some boring guys playing a boring incomprehensible game. I wouldn't read on...

  14. I'm just confused and really don't know what's going on. I guess that's because I'm unfamiliar with the game, but ... I'd stop reading.

  15. Dungeons, dragons, and spells, love that sort of thing, but I wasn't for sure if they were playing a video game or if they were really fighting dragons. I would read on to discover. Good Luck ;-)

  16. I actually have played quite a bit of D&D, and though your rules seem slightly off from what I'm familiar with, I don't really have a problem with that. It seems like you've created here a D&D-like game, and the interaction between the players, which is what is important, is well written.

    I actually like the lack of tension here. It amuses me that what's at stake here is the character's life, the loss of which would lead to... having to roll a new character. It's as if you've broken the rule in novel writing about jumping right into the action by creating action out of inaction. It works for me up to this point, and I would continue reading, but I would hope that you'd provide us with some real tension soon.

    Also (small point)I believe in the last paragraph you mean either "elfin" or "elven."

    Nice work, though!

  17. Thanks for everybody's comments! Based on them, I decided to write a new chapter one, and move this to chapter two. This scene is mostly character development and set-up for one of the three main characters in my book. But it doesn't have a large enough impact for me to justify alienating so many readers.

    So thank you so much for your very honest help!