Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #42

GENRE: YA epic fantasy with a romantic twist

Alex was having a wonderful time, enjoying his first unauthorized dive, until the shark appeared out of nowhere. Neither of them should have been there. Alex wanted to dive so badly, although everyone had warned him against it. Sea water was toxic and no one was allowed to dive except for scientific or rescue missions.

Researchers claimed that all the fish had died long ago. But somehow this shark survived. Alex had only seen sharks in aquariums around Gensolia, where scientists kept them away from the hostile environment of their natural habitat.

The shark stopped circling and floated in front of him, challenging and ready to attack. It bared two rows of shiny pointed teeth at him, two golden eyes glistening with hunger madness, and yet, at the same time, they showed shades of pain.

Is it afraid to attack?” he thought.

It was taking the shark quite a long time to attack. He wasn’t an expert on sharks, but it seemed unnatural. The shark was acting as if it was confused or struggling with its decision to attack, as if it had forgotten that it once was a carnivorous beast.

Is that even possible?” he thought, “ Why not? It’s been over fifteen years since they declared all fish to be dead in oceans, maybe those few who survived had found new sources of food or started to feed on sea weeds.

Still he knew that at any time, the shark's nature could kick in, and then it would attack him, ripping him to shreds.


  1. There is a lot of infodump on this page, and some of it (the fact that the fish are supposedly all dead, for instance) is even repeated. This should be a tense, suspenseful scene--he's being circled by a shark!--but the infodump and Alex's thoughts keep interrupting and undercutting the action.

    Alex also seems to be fairly blase about the fact that his life is in danger, if his thoughts are any indication. Give us more about Alex and less about researchers. If your protag doesn't care he's being menaced by a shark, why should I?

    I'm afraid this didn't hook me.

  2. You show the rebellious character of your protag. He was breaking the law to dive. The first paragraph gave me sense of Alex’s world. Also I found it interesting that Alex was sympathizing with the shark attacking him.

    Definitely I’m hooked to read more.

  3. Once again I agree with Princess Sara. If a shark was about to eat me I would be trying to figure out a way to escape, not psycho-analyzing him. The lack of fear on Alex's part kind of makes me not really care what happens to him. Sorry.

  4. I'm curious as to why this is considered epic fantasy. From the information dump this reads more like post-apocalyptic fiction or science fiction.

    The only text hinting at fantasy was the name of the world on which he lived. Otherwise he could have easily been off the coast of California.

  5. The opening line of your book seemed like the first sentence to the third or fourth chapter, after the reader ha had time to settle into your MC. I felt like I was being thrown into the action, but not ready for it yet. Maybe a few lines, at most a parag., to give us a sense of setting and your MC would make a difference and make us better prepared for the shark attack.
    Good luck!

  6. I agree with Princess Sara about the info dump. Alex's thoughts felt very forced and kept the scene from feeling suspenseful. Also, I'm not sure a shark bares its teeth (that sounds more like a dog).

  7. I think all of the elements to this story are great. I just think you need to disperse the info. We don't need to know everything about Alex's world on the first page. It's okay to leave us in the dark for a while. I like Chris's idea to maybe have this scene come later in the book. Good luck.

  8. This opening is backstory central. I would focus this opening scene on a kid running into a shark while diving. Pull me in with tension and an MC in danger, then hit me with the added mystery of all the fish being dead. If done well, this could be a double whammy that could hook your reader big time.

  9. I agree with the previous comments about the info dump and the fact that Alex is not concerned about his life.

    The idea of a world with a dead sea is interesting, but the details about the shark seemed un-sharklike - golden eyes?

    I was hooked in the first line, but the appearing out of nowhere felt cliche. Just say "until the shark appeared." that would have been catchy enough :)

    I think you can still have Alex analyze the shark's behavior, but do it while Alex is fighting to get away from the shark. Perhaps Alex can kick the shark in the nose and the shark doesn't even respond and that could get Alex to wondering about its behavior.

    Good luck :)

  10. I felt awash in info, and the repetition of the word 'attack' jarred a little.

    Even the shark not-attacking feels like info-dump. I'd like more showing -- him sensing the shark coming, his fear as he realises what it is, more exploration of his senses -- than the telling there is now, where you basically just say 'a shark appears out of nowhere, it's not supposed to be there'.

    I sense there's probably an interesting world here, but I need to be fed it in dribs and drabs, because what I'm really here for is story. If you hit me over the head with it, I lose interest.

  11. I have to agree with the issue of info-dumping. I'm not sure why he has no emotional reaction to the possibility of being ripped to shreds? If he's truly that fearless or suicidal, you might want to hint at that.

  12. I am struggling with this one. On the one hand, the previous commenters have a point about undercutting the natural tension of a shark attack with backstory and analysis. However, I will go another way. In my feelings, the oceans and the creatures living in them have somehow been compromised over the last 15 years and so THAT becomes the important part for the reader to know. Alex could be one of those people who are connected to animals in such a way that - even when in danger - he would sympathize/understand the shark's nature. It would then be natural for his internal thoughts to reflect that - and it is possible for time to slow down during moments of danger and you can in a millisecond think a thousand thoughts. SO, for me, it worked and I lilked it. I think it has become an unfortunate "rule" that people now interpret first pages to be slaves to "action." That is nonsense. What first pages must do is interest the reader and hook them - (people have interpreted this to mean 'action') but it just means an interesting concept. And the world you hint at to me is fascinating and so it hooks me and IMO your openig 250 is MORE interesting because it is NOT a traditional shark attack. Not everything has to be a car chase with explosions and I like what you have done here.

  13. I'm afraid I'm with Princess Sara and K Callard here. As soon as I read the line about the shark's eyes showing shades of pain, you lost me. And the MC takes the whole encounter in stride, which is just odd given the circumstances.