Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #11

TITLE: Terra Incognita
GENRE: Fantasy

Like most of life’s extraordinary problems, I felt ill equipped to handle the beast hurtling toward me. The monster’s yellow eyes focused upon me. Its tongue, dripping saliva, lolled from its mouth. I flicked my eyes left and right, looking for cover. A door to slip through. Anything. But could find no escape. In a matter of seconds, it lunged for me. I hit the ground, the air forced from my lungs. And, before I could take a breath, my face was plastered with the dog’s kisses. Laughter bubbled up in my throat, and I tried to shove the more than one hundred pound wolf-hybrid away to no avail. So, arms shaking, I managed to hold the dog several inches from my body and draw my knees up, and rolled us both to the side. I made it to my feet, but the dog remained with his tummy in the air, smiling at me.

Bending down, I rubbed his belly, and tried to sound scolding. “You’re really too big to be doing that.” However, my laugh gave me away.

With the canine properly mollified, I continued on my trek to the house across the lawn. The farmhouse, and Lobo the happy monstrosity, had belonged to my aunt Bethany Wells until her recent death. Aunt Bethany had died under what local gossip was calling “mysterious circumstances.” But mysterious was putting it more than gently.


  1. You have a problem with your first sentence. I'm sure what you mean is that the beast hurtling toward you and life's extraordinary problems have something in common, which is that you're ill-equipped to handle them. But what you've actually said is that you and life's extraordinary problems have something in common, which is that neither of you is prepared to handle the beast. You need to rearrange the structure of the sentence or change the participle.

    I'd break the first paragraph after "no escape" then drop "in a matter of seconds." Just say, "It lunged for me."

    I smiled when I realized I'd been tricked about the beast and it was just a dog. Funny.

    In the last paragraph you say local gossip is saying Aunt Bethany died under "mysterious circumstances." That phrase sounds more like a line from a news report, not gossip. I would expect gossip to be adding in salacious details, not being all vague.

    Those are some suggestions to improve what I think is overall a strong piece. It's interesting, cleanly written. I'd keep reading.

  2. What's fun about this is your character's sort of nerdy voice. The first sentence's lofty dialogue clashed nicely with the actual event happening. :)

  3. I liked your set-up w/ the dog...but I found a lot of telling in your writing.
    "I felt ill-equipped" "tried to sound scolding" "canine properly mollified"
    You're already showing all these things in your scene. With a bit of editing, you can make the emotions/actions stronger.
    Good luck!

  4. I felt cheated by the monster- turned-to-dog scene. It seems like you just wanted to start off with something exciting. And if he's ill-equipped to handle the dog, how can I believe he's equipped enough to solve Aunt Bethany's murder or any other problems that might arise in the novel?

    And apart from there being no real danger, the dog doesn't seem to have any connection to Aunt Bethany's death, so I don't see how the two events are connected.

    It seems you're setting thing up for the reader instead of getting to the actual story. What is the problem? WHat is the thing that is different, or how has this day gone wrong? Perhaps start a bit closer to the inciting incident.

  5. I felt a little cheated as well... bait and switch. But I like the writing and voice. Maybe try starting a little deeper into the conflict that launches the story. Nice job though! I'm intrigued about this mysterious death.

  6. I also felt cheated thinking that it was a beast instead of a dog. The main character can be greeted by their dog that way, just make sure I know it's a dog to start with. Otherwise, if you've blown this one thing out of proportion, I'm gonna be thinking that other things have been blown out of proportion too.

  7. I like the comic tone and charm; agree that the bait and switch with the dog is a problem....unless the dog (the 'happy monstrosity') really is a monster of some kind? I couldn't be sure. Also (minor) I'd use another phrase than 'putting it gently'....not sure where that is coming from. I like the idea of a mystery/death in a fantasy. This sounds fun!

  8. I like this.

    I would take out "in a matter of seconds" it doesn't add anything, just start: "It lunged at me"

    I would say "Aunt Bethany had died due to “mysterious circumstances,” according to local gossip.

  9. I had no problem with the monster being a dog, but the problem is I knew it was a dog from your diction. I feel like that's how I would describe a dog anyway, haha. :)

  10. I’m not a big fan of the “gotcha!” beginning. It doesn’t seem necessary or related to the plot. We don’t get that until the last 3 lines, and while they hint at things I might find intriguing, they’re not enough to pull me in. Sure, Lobo is adorable, but I don’t think he warranted the majority of the excerpt.