Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #28

TITLE: Drego's Sword
GENRE: fantasy

Drego felt his legs being swept out from underneath him and he fell hard to the sand, the grains collecting in his clothes and blond hair. He saw a flash of cloudless blue sky before the sun blinded him and he closed his eyes. He heard his uncle's laughter and the crash of the ocean waves, the salty smell mixed with the earthy scent of the nearby forest.

Drego let out a defeated moan, staying on his back. The sunlight warmed him, but the sand he'd accumulated in his clothes scratched his tan skin. He felt irritation flare through his veins. How many times would he fall victim to the same attack?

"Oh, get up," he heard his uncle's raspy voice say.

Drego opened his brown eyes, squinting. He stood, scooping up a wooden training sword from where he'd dropped it. "Tell me how to dodge that."

The old man was darker skinned and small boned, with many wiry muscles. He had gray hair and a stubble along his narrow jaw. His black eyes were alight with amusement. "Why? Because that's how I've taken you down all morning?" He smiled widely. "No. Figure it out yourself."

The beach they were on curved eloquently alongside the ocean, gentle waves lapping at the sand. The beach sloped up into a forest, the trees tall and thick with leaves that fluttered in a warm breeze. Further down the beach a young couple was walking in the waves and a family was sitting just outside the forest.


  1. At first, I thought they were in a fantasy land (LOL). But then when you mentioned a family down the beach, I wasn't so sure.

    I'm huge fantasy fan.

    Here are a couple of minor suggestions (nothing huge).

    The first paragraph instead of telling us he felt his legs swept out from under him. Just show the action of them being swept.

    Drego's legs were swept...

    Same with the second paragraph. Instead of telling us he felt irritation show us. Are his hands fisted, is he frowing, does he kick at the sand? See what I mean? Don't tell us "how he feels" show us.

    And the last paragraph I'd change up 1 or 2 of the "beach" that you have otherwise it's repetitve. Maybe: Further down a young couple walked in the waves.

    Hope this helps! Good luck.

  2. You paint a nice scene, but it's too calm. There's no sense of danger or trouble to compel me to read on. It doesn't raise any questions.

    I also agree with what rebekahlpurdy and the repetition of "beach" in the last paragraph. Maybe replace one of them with shore?

  3. Sorry, I'm not hooked. I just see a guy on a beach not doing very well in training. However, I haven't read very much of this type of fantasy so it may well just be me looking for conflict where there isn't expected to be any.

    I like your descriptions of the characters. Just a minor point - for some reason the phrase 'many wiry muscles' jarred with me - wouldn't he either have wiry muscles or not? Just a personal viewpoint.

    Good luck to you :)

  4. I like the scene and setup. Very nice descriptions. But note your use of pronouns.

    You could cut the first sentence down to ‘Drego slammed into the sand…’ By doing so, distinctive nouns and strong verbs pop out and editing in this way cuts the pronouns. In the next sentence, suggestion: “the blue sky flashed by before…’ Again the verb ‘flashed’ is a stronger verb, more evocative than ‘he saw’.

    Love the dialogue, btw. Very good :) IMHO, you might edit the description of the uncle to improve the flow.

    Not sure if your use of ‘eloquently’ is correct. Lots of adverbs/adjectives in this. IMHO, less of them and more simple strong nouns/verbs would improve your MS.

    I’d be interested in seeing your edits.
    Good luck.

  5. I'm not hooked. The writing isn't active enough and distances me from the character. Plus the sentence structure is too similar throughout. Three paragraphs start with the character's name. You want to change your sentence structure regularly to keep the writing dynamic.

  6. Too much telling. Also, the 'wise mentor' and 'boy learning swordmanship' idea is one that has used many times- unless the rest of your story somehow defies the mold, I wouldn't read on.

  7. Just a small suggestion: In the first sentence of the second paragraph, you don't have to tell us that Drego stayed on his back. We'll assume that until you tell us otherwise. I would look for more places where you can cut extra words, like he doesn't need to "feel" his legs get swept out from under him, they're just swept out.

    Also, I don't think I'd say the sand scratched his "tan" skin. That kind of jarred me out of the story, since Drego's not going to think of his own skin as being tan or otherwise.

    I agree with previous comments about removing the "many" from "many wiring muscles" and I'm not sure about the use of the word eloquently.

    I do like his uncle telling him to get up and to figure it out for himself. He sounds like a great character.

  8. Not hooked. It's very passive because you're telling us what happened instead of allowing it to happen. Instead of saying things like he heard his uncle laugh, say his uncle laughed, or even better "Ha! That'll teach you to pay more attention boy" Just an example. The point is, let your characters do things and say things. Don't tell us what they did and said.

    There is also no tension of suspense here. No conflict. Why is he training? Because he thinks it might be fun or because there are a horde of evil barbarians on their way to town. Let us know what the threat is.

    And unless this beach is going to be mightily important to the story, does it really merit all that description? Does it need to be anything more than the beach?

    All the above are easily fixed so stick with it!

  9. Too many adjectives. Too much description. Not enough characterization. Nothing intriguing enough to lure in a reader.

  10. Agreed with the suggestions to tighten it up. Use stronger verbs (was walking = walked, was sitting = sat) cut description you don't need and think and see the scene like the MC would. There's a little conflict here for a hook, but not a strong one. Making the MC someone we relate to, want to know, care about would help.

  11. The meat of this is the dialogue and action between Drego and his Uncle, and I particularly like the Uncle's retort "Figure it out yourself."

    I'd tighten the descriptions by culling some of the passive voice i.e "felt his legs BEING swept", adding little more specificity, and some minimalism. Declarative doesn't seem like your style, but if you can cut out excess adjectives, adverbs and add-ons (example: "Irritation flared. How many times would he..." ) This would feel much tighter and (BONUS!) move quicker.

  12. Secret Agent: Thanks very much! I'd never thought of "being" seeming redundant there, but it really does. I'll work on tightening up my descriptions by getting rid of unneeded words.

    Declarative definitely isn't my style. :) Thanks again for the tips!