Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Child of Moon and Sea
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

He walked the beach of a windswept island, miles away from human habitation, the place where his regrets lived. One of the few places left in the world where nature was pure, unpolluted. Years since he’d visited, but the landscape was the same. Interior forests growing from fertile volcanic soil, cliffs reaching to the sky filled with bird nests, open horizon.

A sound caught his attention and he saw a baby bird on the ground, flapping his wings. Covered with a mixture of soft grey down and sleek feathers, the chick was ungainly as it grew, sharp beak making it identifiable as an albatross. The bird thrust its wobbly neck forward and back, its body shaking. It fell to the ground and tried to stand again, its taloned feet helplessly scratching at the sand. It rolled, making a piteous choking sound.

He rushed forward and cradled the baby bird in cupped hands, but the baby’s eyes closed, the vulnerable neck hanging. Gently he set the baby bird down on the beach, arranging its limbs. Nature took the weakest. No emotion moved him; instead, he understood this law of survival. The mother would lay more eggs and they would be stronger, better suited for this world.

The island curved ahead and he followed the contour. The smell of carrion reached him first. Then the sight of the beach covered by the bodies of dead and dying chicks, all like the one he’d just left. Young enough to still be covered by down.


  1. I like it!

    First thing - maybe separate out the last line? "He walked the beach of a windswept island, miles away from human habitation. This was where his regrets lived."

    I have no idea what an interior forest is so I can't picture it.

    "The chick was ungainly as it grew" - is it growing right before our eyes?

    It's really good though! You know, a total bummer, but good :)

  2. I enjoyed reading this. You do a nice job of description. I'd suggest a couple of things that came to mind as I read:

    -I'd like to know your MC's name, and

    -I'd like to have a better understanding of where and when (although this is hard to get in to the first 250 words, and I'm not sure how to do it, either!)

    -perhaps consider tweaking the descriptions so that they speak more personally in the voice of the MC so that we learn about your MC as we learn about his world. That way, your description would be pretty, but also it would be doing double duty.

    Thanks for sharing, and good luck to you!!

  3. Great imagery in this page. I agree with adding more of who the MC is to that first line--a name at least so we can connect who he and him are. Also "a windswept island" felt rather generic. Can you name the island, or maybe take out the "a" which makes it seem like he walks various islands regularly (maybe he does but there's probably a better way to show that).

    Marisa has a good point about skewing the observations to specific things your MC would notice that show us about him, perhaps relating something about the bird's state or growth to his own life. We want to understand him and be there with him. This reads a bit passive as is--the writing is good, but it's a little tough to engage.

  4. I agree that this seems passive and distant, in that your MC appears to be a passive observer who isn't all that engaged in his surroundings.

    Now, I may be wrong, but I assume that is your intent -- the clue being how he reacts to the predicament of the the chick and "no emotion moved him."

    If that's the case, I suggest we need to make that clear at the outset. We need to be more in the head of this character. Perhaps the way is to give the reader a little more shock factor in the opening lines, by confronting this MC with that scene of many dead and dying chicks right off the bat, and contrasting that gruesome scene with how he reacts to it.

    Hope that helps.


  5. You say "he" but you do not give any name. That makes your scene very distant and impersonal and it is hard for me to get close to the MC. Add to this, there is no description of the MC's arc.
    However, I found the last paragraph charged with emotion and mystery. Something is brewing and that's good. Maybe give some hints about the MC.In brief, a little bit too much setting for me here.

  6. Thank you so much for the feedback. I really appreciate hearing other readers' impressions. I didn't name the character in this section because his identity is a mystery until about 1/3 of the way through the novel. The next chapter shifts POV to the MC. Now I'm wondering if I should move this chapter to second so there is a more traditional start. Thank you again to everyone who commented!

  7. My initial thought is that the imagery is beautiful, but I feel disconnected from the MC. I think the overall feel is one of mystery, which I like enough to want to read more despite not having any idea about who the MC is.

    Good luck!

  8. I found this a bit melodramatic for a scene where hardly anything happens. I don't know who this character is or why he's there or anything about him, and honestly, there's barely anything here to hook me. If this isn't the main character, unless the rest of the story can't be told without this, I'd move it to later in the ms.

  9. I think this is an interesting opening, with a lot of wonderful imagery. Definitely has a dark, brooding kind of feel to it. I would read on.