Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #32

TITLE: Charles Sampson - Paranormal Investigator
GENRE: YA Detective / Magical Realism

Autumn was over. The leaves had turned and the light of the sun was slowly dimming as it hung over Whitegrove. The weather could not keep people from their business across the streets, and life continued as normal as the cold set in. A large rook hopped along the roof of one of the busier establishments. A wooden sign hung high and declared it to be called the Chambers Club, home to various ways of losing ones money and senses. A loud bang on a table inside startled the rook and it took to a hasty flight.

Smoke hung in the air of the Chambers Club, floating lazily across the card table and around it's five occupants. Only two men were left in the game. They sat opposite each other in silence with a small array of coins in between them. The first man kept his eyes calmly locked on his opponent who couldn't seem to decide between looking at his cards, his money or the man across the ocean of wood. The silence around the table was broken by the man with nervous eyes,

“Damn it, Sampson, you must be bluffing. You can't have a winning hand again.” He struggled to hide the agitation in his voice, his thin moustache quivering as he spoke.

“That did not sound like a wager to me, Davenport.” Their eyes were locked now. Davenport looked torn between folding and betting.


  1. Congratulations getting in! Two suggestions for the first paragraph: instead of saying “Autum was over. The leaves had turned...” describe the few remaining crisp brown leaves clinging to the branches as if unwilling to accept the change. But also, I’m not sure you want to start with the weather. Maybe consider starting with the second paragraph so the reader connects with the MC faster. Good luck!

  2. Nice writing! I agree with the other comment about getting to your characters sooner. Nice descriptions in that first paragraph - perhaps move later in the story.

  3. I thought the opening parg offered a bit of mood, tone, and setting, and I liked the rook. I'm hoping it has a part to play in the story. Many of the sentences in that parg, though, are short and declarative, and it sounded repetitive when reading. Maybe change up some of the sentence structure.

    Parg 2, perhaps say where the smoke comes from. Are the men smoking cigars? Does the fireplace not work properly? Are the men using coins or poker chips? Is it a penny ante game, (coins) or high stakes (chips or bills). Are the men rich gentlemen or working stiffs? I got the sense that this was a 19th century men's club, catering to wealthy men. I'm guessing Sampson is the MC's dad?

    And I'm wondering if you might find a way to get the MC onto the page. Without him being there, this reads more like a prologue. While I have no problem with prologues, they seem to be frowned upon these days.

    Overall, though, I thought this worked pretty well. I'd read more.

  4. I like the mood you establish, and one gets a good sense of time and place from the language alone. I do agree with the above comment about the weather - not because it is wrong to use weather as an opening paragraph descriptor, but rather because so many authors use it.

    Again, really good sense of mood and atmosphere.

    Best of luck, and happy writing.

  5. "...the ocean of wood." I like that. :)

    I like how the first paragraph begins to establish a sense of atmosphere, but it changes into a poker game inside the Chambers Club that makes me associate it more with an old Western than YA Magical Realism/Paranormal. Is this supposed to be contemporary, though? I suppose with a wooden sign, it probably isn't.

    It's an interesting POV setup, too, as we start outside the building and work our way in toward the main character. Is the book 3rd person omni throughout, I wonder? Without a synopsis to indicate where this is going, I think I'd need it to start somewhere closer to Sampson and a sense that we're leading up to an inciting incident of some sort to really get the right sense of *need* to keep reading.