Saturday, December 4, 2010

#39 Urban Fantasy: Braver (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: Braver
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Leyik, the teenage vocalist of a breakout rock band, journeys through abandoned warehouses, destroyed subways, and fallen skyscrapers to find the girl he is chemically addicted to, Claire, the only person who can stop the biblical-scale disaster caused by Spire Corporation.

Strong hands plunged Leyik's head underwater. A stream of bubbles rushed past his face as he screamed. He didn't have much time left.

Leyik struggled to move his head above the water, but his neck was gripped with such power that his spine could have easily broken under the force. He thrashed his arms and legs against the jagged metal tank, but couldn't break his shackles. His body buzzed from what felt like ten thousand pinpricks in his fingers and toes. Little specs of light burst into his vision from a spasm of blood vessels in his brain. Finally the reflex to breathe was too great to be controlled. He opened his mouth and sucked in water. A moment later a man with a shaved head pulled him out of the tank. Leyik violently gasped for air as he collapsed to the ground.

The man spat out questions before Leyik could clear the water from his lungs. "Who are you working for? What are you planning on doing with VANGUARD?"

What the hell is vanguard? "I don't know what you're talking about!" Leyik coughed. "What did you do with Mike?"

The man ignored Leyik's question and checked his watch. He wore a white lab coat that covered the length of his slender form. Thick-rimmed glasses rested on his pale, sunken face. He walked across the room to switch on surgical lights above a medical table. Leyik tried to shield the blinding light with his hand to look around.


  1. I liked this one. I found myself underwater with Leyik fighting for air. ;-)T

  2. You really dove right in with this one (pun intended!). Conflict is great, but the only problem with this type of opening is that the reader has to assume a lot about the main character.

    We have the logline but there's no sense of who Leyik is or why we should identify with him. The description here is excellent but I wonder if you'd be better off starting in a less action-packed part of the story. Maybe just before he gets dunked under the water.

  3. Where do you go from here? As the reader, I'm wondering how the action of the story can possibly top torture. Plus, without grounding me in who this character is, it's like seeing a picture rather than feeling the tension I'm sure you'd like me to feel.

    The writing is good. I just think you started in the wrong place.

  4. The log line makes me want to hear Claire's story, rathey than Leyik's. He's seems more the sidekick.

    I didn't get a sense of him having his head under water. There are no water/wet descriptions. It's all about the pain (which you did nicely) but perhaps add a line or two about the water.

    I also didn't have a sense of place until the end when you described the guy in the white coat. Until then, I had imagined them outside. Maybe move that up to the beginning?

  5. I like the logline, definitely sparks curiousity.

    This is a great opening, but it sort of lost the tension when you stopped to describe the 'man' in the last paragraph.

    Sounds like a great story. Good luck.

  6. Logline: I was distracted by "the teenage vocalist of a breakout rock band" because it felt incongruent with the rest of the logline. Like the evil corporation idea and the imagery. To me, this feels more dystopian than urban fantasy.

    Excerpt: Very visual, but I agree with Ashley and macaronipants -- this scene starts the novel off with a bang, but it may be more effective if we were invested in Leyik as a character first.

    Also, maybe mention if the water's cold/hot, to help the reader feel even more what Leyik's feeling when he's forced under. If this is a close third person narration, Leyik wouldn't know that the guy who pulled him out had a shaved head until he was out of the water. (Sorry, nitpicky!)

    There's strong writing here, and a great premise -- best of luck!

  7. Um, the logline is missing the rest. What happens if he loses? And do you mean LITERALLY chemically addicted to or is this an expression?

    In the excerpt, how does he see the bubbles if someone is drowning him? People usually close their eyes if plunged underwater. And a drowning person is actually incapable of any thought other than AIR. Studies show that most can't even scream or show an expression of panic. Sorry to be all scientific but this didn't seem realistic to me. It's fine for him to kick and think panic. And he should cough for a long time before he can speak and then it should be hard and hurt.

    The rest is fine.

  8. Logline: Leyik's rock band association doesn't seem to connect with the conflict so either make it connect, or cut it to make room for more space to explain conflict.
    As it stands, the line sounds like his journey thru all the settings will be the focus of the novel.
    The essence of the line--that Leyik has to find the only person who can stop a disaster--is a great hook.
    250 Words: KAPOW! Way to jump into action and get us feeling some tension. Just the fight to survive gets me worrying about the hero.
    Problems: "man w/ a shaved head" is a POV jump-Leyik shouldn't be able to see him and that picture threw me off. Just needs to be moved.
    -His "who is vanguard?" thought should go at the end of the paragraph--the reaction is more logical for the thoughts to come after he shouts. Also, "What did you do with Mike" is a few too many words for someone in panic..."Where's Mike?"
    -The run down of the torturer's looks felt a tiny bit abrupt--just a word or two to tell us that Layik is looking at him instead of trying to recover.
    Definitley sounds like an intense story, and I would be interested in seeing if it stays up!

  9. The logline left me confused but the sample drew me right in. You might want to reconsider the logline.

  10. I like your piece. Just some pickies:
    You start with strong arms and a little later 'such power', but you describe his torturer as skinny. (Maybe he had an assistant.??)
    Add cold or warm to the water description.
    BTW: I was once held under water by a bully. I kept my eyes open, saw a little bit of bubbles, and was thinking how I could elbow his ribs, and whether he was insane. p.s. he let me go, and that's why I'm writing you.
    Oh, I'd push forward to the description of the man (lab coat etc. the "shaved head," only becuase you didn't mention being flipped over. OR write it into a more than 250 word version. I know.

  11. Logline:

    Line comments:
    -If he's breathed in water, wouldn't he be doing more than violently gasping for air after? (vomit, gagging, etc.?)

    It's a fast paced opening, but I'm not quite sympathetic to Leyik yet. This could change in the next few pages, and I would read on, but I am looking for a reason to care for him right now.

  12. Logline - Okay - Leyik is looking for Claire because he's chemically addicted to her. So that's sort of a reason to look for her, although I don't understand what that means, interesting as it is. Then we have Claire who is the person who can stop the disaster from occurring - it sounds more like it's up to Claire, not Leyik to save the world.

    Or, does Leyik need to find her and help her save the world, otherwise she won't know she needs to save the world?

    As for the story, you started with a bit of passive voice right away - "...his neck was gripped with..." I get the point of doing it - so we don't know who is doing it but still - to do it right away?

    And the guy holding him underwater with all the power - I'm thinking it's going to be some huge guy. The first we see is a guy with a shaved head. Okay - promising - tattoos as well? Muscle-head? No it turns out he's Poindexter! This took be by complete surprise. Not sure if that's good or bad, though.

    The writing is quite good, and based purely on the logline (despite what I said before), I'd read on. I like the picture it portrays - the "mood". And I really how you started fast.

  13. This is a great scene - though I agree with a lot of the points others have made eg needing water words and his not gasping with a lungful of water - but I think you've started your novel too early. I need some build-up, I feel like I'm in the middle of the book. I also think the logline needs more info.

  14. Your story sounds great, and I was immediately drawn into this excerpt.

    Couple of things, though. "He didn't have much time left." - I felt this sentence was ambiguous. Before he drowns? before he does something else? I didn't feel it added anything to the tension.

    Also, the sentence "Little specs of light burst into his vision from a spasm of blood vessels in his brain." - In close third, we're experiencing things along with your protag, so I liked the "specs of light" part, but I think you could cut the explanation. He wouldn't be thinking about the cause of the light, the spasm of blood vessels. Imagine, you're underwater, drowning, you notice the sensations, but you wouldn't analyze why you are having them.

    Hope that helps. Good luck, I found this very gripping.

  15. The logline was interesting even though it wasn't very clear. I loved the beginning. I would read this book.

    Well done.

  16. I bid 20 pages.

    Laura Bradford
    Bradford Literary Agency

  17. I remember reading this one last month.

    I like your logline, but I think it could be reworked a bit to make it feel a little less clunky. For example, sticking Claire's name in the middle caused the sentence to feel jerky to me. I think it would be better as: ...fallen skyscrapers to find Claire, the girl he is chemically addicted to and the only person....

    I also have to wonder how you can have a "breakout rock band" if civilization is so ruined as you described.

    I think you've got some point-of-view problems with the excerpt. Does Leyik know that his spine could be broken? Does he know why he's seeing specs of light? I think when you've got a scene like this, where the character is in immediate peril, you want to stay with deep POV narration and avoid going toward omniscient. Stay inside your characters mind and immediate perceptions.

    Also, you wrote: "...but his neck was gripped with such power..." This is passive sentence construction. It would have more punch, I think, if you turned it around a bit: "...but the hands gripping his neck could have broken his spine..."

    How is the metal tank jagged? I can't picture this.

    The descriptions of what Leyik feels underwater are quite good. However, I wonder if Leyik would gasp for breath the moment he was let out, or first cough out the water filling his lungs.

    You've described a bald man with thick-rimmed glasses and a slender form beneath his lab coat. This hardly gives me the impression of a man who would be so strong that he could not only hold Leyik underwater, but nearly break his spine. I'd also caution you against making your characters stereotypes. This looks like the stereotypical crazed scientist.

    Hope this helps!

  18. I liked everything except the character's name. I wouldn't read a full length novel where that name was repeated over and over.

    (sorry :( )


  20. Well, I just got another manuscript request with this logline and first 250. That puts me at seven... granted, four have been rejected : (

    But, at least the foot is in the door...

  21. This feels a little too much like any spy movie/conspiracy theory movie out there. I was going to ask from the logline why this wasn't YA if the protagonist is a teen, but I can see why from the first page--though honestly, if this is as bad as it gets, it probably still could be YA.

    I don't get the connection between the logline and the excerpt, though--he's a singer, so how is he involved in a biblical-scale disaster? What does biblical-scale disaster mean in this context, specifically?

    I do like the concept of a singer trying to prevent a disaster--that's a nice twist on the genre--but I'd want more. Why is he "chemically addicted" to the girl (sounds odd--give me enough setting clues to let me know this is set in the future, because "urban fantasy" tells me there's magic in this story, not SF/spy stuff.), and what does Spire Corp have to do with any of it?

    If I didn't have the logline to confuse me, I'd be hooked enough to read a little more, but would be looking out for a place other than waterboarding to start off.

    The voice works well enough, and I like the description of what's happening to him physically (though also grossed out by it). It might be a little too much for a first scene, though, for me to feel anything but manipulated into feeling basic physical sympathy for the main character--no one should ever feel that--and I'd rather feel *real* sympathy for him first.

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