Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #20

TITLE: Edgefield
GENRE: Fantasy (Magical Realism)

March, 2005

Dean Adams leaned against the door of his rental car, squinted at the glowing orb behind the overcast, and examined the building. Squatting on a grassy knoll above the parking area, the hotel reminded him of a sprawling English manor house. The two wings of rooms bracketing each end reached out toward him like the forelegs of a crouching stone beast. The third floor dormer windows protruded like eyes. A shiver whisked across his shoulders. Looks like it either wants to eat me or hug me.

His friend Tom, a Portland native, had suggested the hotel as a comfortable, but unusual place to stay while Dean attended the National Journalists’ Convention. “A departure from the ordinary … with a checkered past,” he’d said with an enigmatic smile.

Dean read on the website that it used to be some kind of county institution. Two locals had renovated the abandoned derelict, converting it into a quaint inn. It certainly exuded an air of mystery. And something else.

He rubbed his puffy eyelids and shifted his gaze to the center entry. The mouth of the creature. A spacious veranda with a wide flight of stairs funneled guests through brass-framed double doors. The red-lettered sign over the gray portico read EDGEFIELD.

Every path wound toward the hotel’s main entrance. Guess I don't have much of a choice. At least it’s got a bar. He sighed, shut the car door, and muttered, “What the hell did I get myself into?”


  1. This is my first time trying to give feedback on excerpts that are this short, but here it goes. I like your writing, and appreciate the lyricism you're trying to use in personifying/monstrifying the hotel, but I would suggest either strengthening that image to be more foreboding or scale it back and center on the MC and why they're feeling uneasy. Is it just the look of the hotel or something else? Right now I couldn't really tell, in this short span, why the MC seems worried.

  2. You've done a great job using imagery to set up the scene. But, given the building's not-so-rosy past, I have a hard time believing that the MC might imagine the building looking like it wants to hug him. I also think that by adding a little background as to what kind of journalist he is (scientific, cold case investigative, etc.), you can enhance the intrigue and stave off predicability.

  3. I really LOVE your description of the hotel. But I think the imagery is creepy enough on its own; you don't need the last two lines. If you cut Dean's shiver and his thoughts, we are now allowed to find the hotel creepy ourselves, instead of Dean coming out and just telling us so.

    Again with the lines: "It certainly exuded an air of mystery. And something else." I don't ususally get so nitpicky, but I think you've done such a *great* job showing us the hotel is creepy, I'm worried you've gone a touch overboard in make sure we KNOW the hotel is creepy. It's not the "excuded an air of mystery" line that's bothering me, but the "something else" that is. I feel like it's too obvious. I suggest losing it.

    I also agree with Barb; knowing what kind of journalist he is could really up the interest. And, like Robin, I'm a little confused as to what exactly Dean has gotten himself into. He could always find another hotel, right? Does he *have* to stay at this particular one?

    Anyway, I do think this is a really great start. You've got some wonderful imagery. But I think another round of edits couldn't hurt. You've definitely captured my interest, though! Which is the hardest part :)

    P.S. Is the "glowing orb behind the overcast" supposed to be the sun? If so, I recommed just call it the sun. Call a spade a spade, you know? :p

  4. The quality of writing in this piece is really excellent, but unfortunately it doesn't grab me. This may just be a matter of taste. I tend to prefer character-driven stories and so far, all we have is some guy walking up to a creepy hotel. If you could find a way to scale back a little of the description and introduce more characterization, I might be sold.

    A couple of nits: I didn't care for "glowing orb" either, and is it really important that we know Dean's friend is named Tom, or that he's a Portland native?

  5. I think you're giving a nice description of the setting here, and I like the idea of magical realism set in an English country house.

    But I want to know more about Dean. I'm not seeing enough of his voice come through here, and I'm not connecting immediately with him. This introduction feels a little matter-of-fact to me (especially in the second paragraph when you jump into backstory and away from his feelings) and I want to know more of his personal reactions, conflict, and story if I'm going to follow him through a book.

  6. Dear Secret Agent: the hotel IS the MC. Dean and others are secondary. Can't Dean wait until the second 250 words?