Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #29

TITLE: Touching Shores
GENRE: Historical Fantasy

I hurl the empty mead bottle through the air. It revolves sixteen times before it smashes into a tree sending tiny shards in all directions.

Salty ocean water splashes against my face, burning and tingling my skin. I always felt rejuvenated when I touch the water.

A man stirs beside me and reaches out for my waist, wrapping his thin arm around me and pulling me against his entire body. He tries to lift my dress up to my waist as he pulls me close. His efforts at being seductive are better suited for a corpse.

“Good morning beach bug,” he coos. His breath is thick with the mead I swiped from my ma’s home run distillery. Several empty bottles lie scattered around us.

I grunt in disgust and push his piggish face away from mine as he tries to plant a wet kiss on my lips. He had been snoring all night and I had not slept a wink, it was more like a stupor. In a huff I push him away and roll into the water.

“I only brought you out here to drink with me, nothing… else,” I gurgle past the dry itch in my throat. I plunge my head underwater to wet my tongue and my throat. Instantly my headache disappears. I fling my head back and submerge the rest of my body under the water.

“You did, but that was not what happened last night,” he says lewdly as he pulls on his trousers and dawns his red coat.


  1. What I find interesting about this story is that the girl sounds like she was the aggressor, which is very unusual for historical.
    Be careful with your verb tenses. They seem to go back and forth.
    Also there are some extraneous details that could be removed to pick up the pace. Does she count the number of times the bottle is hurled? What is interesting there is that it smashes into a tree. If the water is salty, we know it is ocean water. Why did the water burn her skin, but then she says it rejuvenates her and she rolls into it?
    Most importantly, what is your hook? Right now you have given us a setting, but it is unclear where this story is going, which means you haven't convinced your reader to keep reading yet.
    I like the premise of what sounds like a very independent minded female MC and I think you are off to a great start.

  2. Having read this twice, I can't understand where the action is taking place. Here is the location sequence:
    o Bottle smashes against tree.
    o Ocean water splashes face.
    o Referred to as 'beach bug.'
    o Rolls into salty water.
    o Plunges head then entire self underwater.
    I assume they are on a beach of an ocean somewhere. But why is there a tree on the beach? Where is the beach?

    The time is also a little confusing. They drink mead which was more common in England and Europe before 1800. A man who wears a red coat, which may imply a British soldier/officer.

    Who is the main character? A female who drinks too much, feels comfortable in ocean water, and has odd morals.

    As a guess, this takes place on a forested oceanic beach in England prior to 1800 between a mermaid and a soldier.

    I'm not sure I've got that right, but my point is, you're making it awfully hard for me to figure out the basic story info. When is the story set? Where is it set? Who is the story about? Consider adding more clarity to help ground the reader in the story. It probably would take only a few details.

    I'm also concerned about the MC's surly attitude. She invited the 'piggish faced' man to drink with her, spends the night lying next to him and now finds him repulsive? Shouldn't this revulsion be aimed a little more inward? After all, she invited him, it doesn't sound like he forced himself on her.

  3. The location is a little unclear, and should be fleshed out a little.

    The main character is intriguing. She does have characteristics that would suggest a mermaid or silkie or something, but one whose mother runs a distillery? I'm guessing someone with some interestingly-mixed parentage.

    It should be "dons" a red coat, not "dawns." Minor typos in your sample text may be overlooked by an agent who is interested anyway, but it's a stumbling block you don't need.

  4. One of the most important things I've ever learned about writing is that every. single. scene needs to move the story and plot forward. Even if it's a calm scene between two characters, as they think about what has just happened and maybe say a word or two...Those words have to be moving the plot (be it the main plot or sub plot) forward, because that is what keeps people invested. It's what keeps them turning the pages. So it's always something to keep in mind.
    So, that being said, while I do like this, I don't know what it's doing to move the plot forward. Who is the man she's with on the beach? Why is he there? What are they doing on the beach? Is something going to happen, some creature going to appear out of the ocean, some person about to attack and the man has to protect the girl, thus earning her trust?
    Hope I've helped. =)

  5. I think you have some interesting details here, but I agree with what the others have said about the location being confusing. I also (and it may be me) was put off by her strange morals. If she's so repulsed by this guy, why did she invite him? I had a hard time relating to her. Perhaps fleshing out her motives would help.

  6. He's "a man" in a present tense story, which makes it sound like he's a stranger and/or the MC has no memory of him. But then she remembers how she got her bottle (so no memory issues), and then she knows she brought him out to drink (so does remember him specifically). So "a man" doesn't make sense - by then she should be thinking of him as "the man" or "the man I picked up last night" or something in a similar vein.

  7. As others have said, this doesn't go anywhere, nor are we grounded in any specific time or place.

    WHat's the point of the scene? WHat is it you want us to know? Make sure that info is on the page, along with the basics - WHo, what, when where and why.

  8. I was pretty disoriented here. It seems like there are some interesting elements at play, but in order to make sense of this interaction and feel grounded in the story we need to have a clearer idea of both the characters and the setting here.

  9. This introduction reads a little bit like a screenplay with lists of actions. Connecting more emotion and narrative thoughts from the main character might help to engage the reader this early on. As others noted, adding context to the setting, perhaps some names, will help solidify what's happening here. It might just be a matter of not starting in the right place. Maybe back up a little and set the scene first before the interaction.