Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #4

Title: The Arcavians
Genre: Science Fiction

What Bud Henry and Elias Russell unearthed on October 18, 1978, in the small town of Keystone, Montana, did more to revolutionize the field of paleontology (and possibly the entire sphere of biological science itself) than any other scientific find of the twentieth century.

Which is why its discovery has been so carefully concealed.

Keystone is a little-known community on the shore of Flathead Lake. Less than a mile from that lake sits the campus of Lewis University, a college whose academic architecture is buttressed by the sciences: chemistry, paleontology, and physics, in particular. The campus is bordered on the east side by a quarry, site of ongoing geological excavations conducted by the university’s paleontology department.

It was in this quarry that the discovery was made.

The bone Elias Russell was studying was large, perhaps the femur of a sauropod like Diplodocus or Apatosaurus. Whatever it was, it was a valuable find. One that Professor Marsh would want to extract himself.

If he were here...

The problem was, with a bone this old (dating back to the end of the Cretaceous period), there was always a danger of damage. Not a risk Elias was willing to take. At least, not alone.

“Bud, come here a moment.”

Bartholomew (“Bud”) Henry irritably curtailed his labor. He was not even supposed to be working today, Wednesday. He had been called in to replace Dan Mooney, who had been sent home Monday under highly unusual circumstances.


  1. I love this premise and set up. I would just caution on the amount of telling/backstory that's present here. All the best!

  2. Like Meredith mentioned, the premise is interesting, however your age category is missing. Is this YA or Adult? I'm assuming adult because Bud sounds like he's on an archaeological dig, however as the reader I don't want to assume. I'd like to know right away who the MC is. And get right into the meat of the story on the first page. Save your background details for later.

  3. I agree with the others who've commented. I like your premise or idea, but I think you can hook the reader if you begin by showing us the rare discovery. The first page is full of telling and background info. I would jump right into the major discovery and the conflict the discovery created and leave out the information about where the college is located. You can weave background and details in later.

  4. I'd suggest cutting the first 4 pargs. Start with your story, not an explanation of your story. Set us in the quarry and show us Elias and Bud digging. Then Elias finds the bone. Show us what happens. The reader will be able to put two and two together. A general rule of thumb is if it's an explanation, cut it. Make things evident through action and dialogue.

  5. I lost interest in the middle of the third paragraph. We started with an exciting discovery in a town. But then you took us away, to a lake, then a college, and then a quarry. Maybe if you started in the quarry, I wouldn't have been drawn away. In my opinion, I think you could remove that paragraph or move it further down. Getting right to the bone discovery would keep us tied to the first two paragraphs and keep the story moving... "What discovery?' is enough of a question to turn the page.

  6. I love the idea of this, but the execution falls a bit flat for me unfortunately. So often (and I feel this is what’s happened here) the opening pages wind up being backstory for you, the author, to figure out your story. By the time edits come around, it’s something that can be cut because this information has been filtered in throughout the rest of the book. I’d rather this start at the discovery, personally!