Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #28

TITLE: Iron and Rust
GENRE: Science fiction

A dozen unlicensed mercenaries were holed up in a cave on the other side of the crater. That’s what the Intel and Tactics groups had said, and they’d sent Fifth Platoon in to flush them out: straightforward and easy work for a fraction of the Hessian Security Company’s elite division.

Platoon Sergeant Atesh Metin changed his helmet’s visor from IR to night vision and scanned the crater. The red star was in front of them, and the former mining site the enemy had set up in was in the shadow cast by the dim light. If they’d waited another day, they’d be in the dark behind the nameless gas giant the moon orbited.

There was no sign of activity outside the cave mouth, and his comm was silent. The team on the ship hadn't detected anything, either. Their targets had to know they were coming; no matter how stealthily they came in, a drop shuttle was hard to miss. If these criminals were savvy enough to choose a well-hidden site, they probably had scanners. They were waiting in their cave, in the ground they knew, defending against an attack.

Atesh looked at the five men with him, waiting for his signal. The other half of his platoon stood on the other side of the crater with his second, preparing a pincer attack. “Let’s go,” he said.

The comforting hum of his headset went silent as he slid down the escarpment.


  1. My very first thought was that you should switch your first and second paragraphs. The first one is info, the second is action.

    I'd also like a little bit more idea of who these mercenaries are so that I get a sense of danger. What did they do to bring down a platoon upon them?

    And I'd love a bit more specific imagery and sensory detail to really set the scene in concrete and give me a sense of who this MC is, as well. (Does Atesh hear his own heart beating? Does he feel the warmth of his breath in his helmet?)

    FYI, love the name of your MC and the book's title.

  2. I also immediately thought you should switch paras one and two. Or leave out paragraph one totally. I like the setting and goal for the scene but I'm not feeling the tension. That may be because I don't know how Atesh feels about this situation. Relaxed because he's done this a zillion times, worried about his team, sure they're headed for a trap, wishing he'd eaten first, etc. I do want to read on to see what happens. Good start.

  3. Agreed with 2 pp'ers. Drop the info dump first paragraph. I hesitate to say whether or not I'm hooked because this just isn't the type of book I'd ever pick up to read. But it's good writing. Seems futuristic and cool, and if I were your demographic, I'd probably be hooked.

  4. Your writing is clear and I like the SciFi setting, but I just couldn't jump straight into a battle and care about the outcome. I like to be introduced to characters before I decide whether or not I want them to survive a battle. Good luck!

  5. I'd actually suggest starting off with paragraph three. That's where you really bring the reader into the story and situation with easy-to-access world building. IF you could weave in Atash as the POV character in the third paragraph, then I think you'd have a really strong start to your novel.

    Best of luck!

  6. On first read I didn't mind the first paragraph. After reading the comments, I went back and read it again minus the first paragraph and I didn't miss it at all.

    Your worldbuilding feels real and sucked me in. I like the voice, and the writing is smooth and clear. But I suspect it would be even better if more of the sentences were active rather than passive. Also you may want to shake up your word choice a little--specifically 'wait' and 'come'.

  7. Clear and concise. Not my type of novel. But I thinkyour writing is clean. I do agree with ditching the first para though.

  8. I think the writing is sound but I get nothing about the POV character and a lot about the setting and situation. In other words, why do I care about this character? Maybe provide a bit more about the MC so we do care. Also, at first this mission is described as easy and straightforward, but then we learn that the enemy are on familiar ground and know the attack is coming so that it won't be such a piece of cake. Good luck!

  9. I thought this was missing tension and conflict. They're in a war situation but I don't feel the tenseness in the air. I don't feel the fear or the eagerness to go out and kill the enemy. If you forgot about the set up and focused on Atesh in this situation, I think all that would come through.

    I wondered who the enemy was. Perhaps tell us rather than saying 'the enemy.' Let us know who/what they're up against. Make it personal.

    I agree about the opening pargs. I'd cut the first and start with the 2nd. Perhaps say what the Red Star is?

    And the piece is really passive. Perhaps go through and rewrite all the sentences where you use 'was' and rethink your verb choices. For instance, the red star was in front of them, could mean anything. Is it a red star in the sky, on a flag or military vehicles? Give us more details and instead of the 'was,' use a beter verb - hung in front of them, fluttered on the enemy's flag - whatever the situation might be. The more specific you are, and the closer you get to your scene and characters, the stronger the piece will be.

  10. This is a difficult one, because it’s actually quite alright. The writing is solid, you have a good balance so that I feel I know the setting but am not overwhelmed by details, and the last line has a good hint of something exciting about to start. The only thing I come against is that it feels like your average military sci-fi; I don’t yet have a sense that this one will stand out from all the others. Part of that might be because at this point all we know of Atesh is that he is a capable-sounding soldier; there isn’t a greater connection to him yet.