Saturday, February 26, 2011

Critique Session Entry #6

TITLE: Poseidon's Trident
GENRE: Thriller

Lily Ashwood flashed her identification card and passed through the fence gates into the dig site. A boy walked quickly to keep up. He rushed after her, in his haste forgetting to produce his own identification card, and a gun wielding security guard blocked his way.

'It's alright, Almando,' Lily called to the security guard. 'Gregorio is with me.'

'Sorry, Miss Lily,' Almando replied. 'You know the procedures; he has to show his pass.'

Gregorio hurriedly fumbled through his jacket pockets, then his pants pockets. He at last found it, and held it up for the bulky man to see. The Spanish guard nodded, satisfied, and stepped aside. Gregorio raced up to Lily, and the pair continued on.

'I'm sorry, Miss Lily' the Spanish boy apologised, 'I've never had to show my pass before.'

'It's alright,' Lily replied, slowing her pace to allow her new archaeology student to keep up. 'There was a break in last night, and security has been tightened. Hence Almando's presence.'

The pair sidestepped a pile of rubble and came to a dark cave, guarded by another beefy guard. Lily showed her pass again, and without looking at it, the guard nodded and let the pair in. They donned white hard hats, and Lily swept a strand of blonde hair out of her deep blue eyes and tucked the rogue strand behind her ear. Lily ducked to enter the cave, moving several hanging vines out of the way with her hand. Gregorio followed her and they switched on headlamps attached to the helmet.


  1. I like the swift pace of this. You're brought right in and swept along in the action, there isn't a dull moment. There are a few things that need some fixing, for example:

    "A boy walked quickly to keep up. He rushed after her, in his haste forgetting to produce his own identification card, and a gun wielding security guard blocked his way." <--- This is a bit clunky, it doesn't read smoothly. I feel like the security guard blocking his way should happen separately.

    Also, first Gregario is "a boy" then he's Gregario. It's confusing at first who's head we're in because one minute we're kind of watching Lily and the next we're in her head.

    Other than thrillers not really being my genre, I am hooked and would probably read on to see where this is going. :)

  2. Oo! A story about archaeology! I love the idea. My younger sister is an archaeology PhD student, so I have a connection and fascination with the subject.

    I really like the first paragraph. A dig with guards. That only hooks me. What kind of dig is this? What have they found? Something mysterious? And I can really picture it in my mind, which is awesome.

    I think there is some character emotion and thoughts missing from this section. For example the paragraph that begins "Gregorio hurriedly fumbled..." is very action and movement oriented. But what is Lily thinking while this is happening? Is she annoyed at the guard for sticking to protocol? Is she ticked at Gregorio for not having his ID on hand?

    Also you describe Gregorio as a boy but then say he's an archaeology student. So I'm wondering how old is Lily and Gregorio. Is she like an old professor so to her a second year undergrad is a mere "boy"? Or is he actually like a youth? If the latter, then I wonder at a teen being on a dig site and being a student. From what I here from my sis, I don't think that's entirely normal.

    But I'm hooked. I've got to know what's at this archaeology site and why someone would break in and try to steal it!

  3. You have lots of good things going on here. You start with an action scene and immediately put us into the story. You've given us a foreign locale (always interesting) and a cool subject (archeology). And I also got an immediate sense of who your characters were.

    The main thing I'd suggest is that when you describe Gregorio's actions, you describe them through Lily's eyes, rather than the narrator's. For instance --

    A boy walked quickly to keep up. He rushed after her, in his haste forgetting to produce his own identification card, and a gun wielding security guard blocked his way.

    That's you describing things. We should see the scene through Lily's eyes (unless you're doing an omniscient POV) How does Lily see the scene and what does she think about what is happening?

    Perhaps - Gregorio (because she knows him) rushed after her and the gun wielding security guard blocked his way. Damn! She forgot to tell him about the new security measures. (Or whatever it happens to be that she thinks about the situation.)

    Then as he's fumbling through his pockets, she might think how forgetful he was, or nervous, or something that would help describe how she sees him as a person. Easy enough to change.

    I'd read more.

  4. Love the idea—my favorite stories are the ones that suck me in and teach me something in the process. And you are doing exactly that.

    As has been said above, I too like the action-oriented pace. People are DOING things and this is great because your reader does them right along with your characters. However, I also want to be inside your character's heads. The beauty of reading is that you get both the outward and inward perspective—not always, of course—but enough to make you see a side of the characters that people in "their" world would not.

    Writing technicalities: Consider replacing some of the proper pronouns (their names) with simple pronouns—he/she. Your readers are smart and will remember who is who, especially as there are only two main characters in this scene.

    Great job. I would read on!

  5. Agree with everyone above. I'd also suggest you try to eliminate some of the "ands" in this excerpt. There are a few too many.

  6. I can't say I disagree with any of the above comments. :) Great pacing! With a little more polishing, this'll be grand! Good luck!

  7. I was definitely interested. To me, introducing the break-in so early made this more interesting. You also introduced it very well, using the presence of the guard; it wasn't an info dump. I think you did a very nice job keeping tension throughout this piece. Good job!

    I have a couple suggestions. First, you use "alright" twice, but it ought to be "all right." Also, in the fifth paragraph, I think the punctuation ought to be, 'I'm sorry, Miss Lily [comma]' the Spanish boy apologised, [period, not a comma here] 'I've never had to show my pass before.' Finally, I think it should be "break-in" with a hyphen, but I'm not 100% positive.

    Other than that, though, I think this is a very nice beginning. I would definitely want to read more.

  8. I liked being dropped into the moment of action straight off, but I did find the name changes confusing too and had to go back and re-read.
    But all in all a great exciting beginning.

  9. I like the way this excerpt begins with action and an immediate hint of tension. That is very important in the opening of a novel!

    Some thoughts:

    1. A boy walked quickly to keep up. He rushed after her, in his haste This has a lot of repetition: "walked quickly", "rushed", "haste". Tighten this!

    2. There is NO SUCH WORD as "alright." Not ever. The correct expression is "all right." Always.

    3. break-in needs a hyphen

    4. Lily swept a strand of blonde hair out of her deep blue eyes and tucked the rogue strand behind her ear. This is a point-of-view (POV) problem. Since Lily is the main character, she is not going to be thinking about her own eye color; especially at a time like this. She is also not going to be thinking about the color of her own hair. The sentence is also clunky because you've got the word "strand" twice.


    Lily swept a rogue strand of hair behind her ear.

    That's really all you need. (The word "rogue" is great here!)

    Overall, be careful to avoid repetitiveness and incorrect word usage, as well as keeping your POV consistent.

    Good work!

  10. I like this a lot but it needs some polishing. For example, instead of "A boy walked quickly to keep up" you could say "Gregorio, her new archeology student, walked faster to catch up."

    There are several places where a little more care in your wording will turn good into great.

  11. You've gotten a lot of great comments on this. The pacing is great, and you've offered a bit of tension here. I have to wonder why everything is so guarded and top secret, and what the break-in was about the night before.

    I'm assuming that Lily is the main character here, since you've provided her full name. My nitpick, then, is that I felt more tension for Gregario in this opening passage rather than Lily.

    I'd like to feel closer to Lily, instead.

    Good writing.