Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #19

TITLE: The Gray Line
GENRE: Suspense/Thriller

Trent Argent discovers a plot to destroy Boston and jumpstart Armageddon, orchestrated by an Afghan nomad in league with U.S. government officials who believe the biblical Rapture is imminent. He stumbles through a maze of lies, tangled loyalties, and betrayal in a desperate bid to save the world he knows and the woman he loves. But he can't save them both....

Trent ignored the streaks of mud and bug-splatter that smeared the windshield, casually dodging a donkey cart and accelerating around a garishly decorated truck spewing smoke as it chugged its way toward Kandahar. A small boy carrying bread darted out from the left, just as a burka-covered woman ventured hesitantly out from the right. Trent froze them with a horn blast and weaved between them. He smiled as he thought of how Gayle, his favorite BBC correspondent (and so much more), described navigating traffic in Afghan garb: “It’s like trying to cross a bloody eight-lane highway while looking through a  kaleidoscope!”

A dog wandered onto the road. Trent tapped the brakes and swerved to the left. The dog froze and then darted to the left, directly in his new path. He braked harder and swung back to the right, just as the dog decided it would be safer to scamper back. He pulled harder to the right, and the wheels rode along the very edge of the shoulder, inches from a deep ditch. The dog dodged left again, and the Toyota just slipped past him, teetering on the edge of the road. Trent held the wheel hard and turned it to the left in tiny increments, pulling them back onto the road, where he brought the vehicle to a stop and lowered his head onto the steering wheel.

“Hey, good driving, man,” said Massimo, his fellow UN field Officer.

“Yes,” agreed their translator, Haider, “but you missed the dog.”


  1. I have to admit, Boston being the source of Armageddon made me laugh a little - I have an odd sense of humor.

    I didn't quite understand the MC's dilemma - save the world, or save the woman he loves. It doesn't seem like much of a dilemma as written, i.e., if he saves the woman he loves, the world will be destroyed... which will kill the woman he loves. Either way, his girl dies, and I hope he wouldn't be so selfish as to let everyone else die out of spite.

    I realize 250 words is not much to build an opinion on, but this opening sequence, frankly, made me dislike Trent. A child and a woman step in front of his vehicle, and he just blares the horn and threads the needle between them. A *dog* does the same, and he nearly crashes a van full of people in order to save the mutt.

    Don't get me wrong, I am as avid an animal lover as you're going to find, but I found the contrast between the two reactions to be a bit off-putting.

    I'm sure that wasn't what you intended (and I'm equally sure Trent isn't a kid-hating misogynist ;-), but those were just my initial reactions to the material at hand.

    As always, this is all just MHO, so please use or disregard as you see fit.

  2. I like your concept, although I have to agree with the previous poster about his dilemma: if he doesn't save the world, the woman he loves will die anyway. So, it doesn't seem like much of a choice.

    I didn't love the first page. Your writing is strong, but watching him dodge people and animals for the whole page didn't really give us any idea of what's going to happen to jumpstart the book. You could probably start a little later on when the story actually starts.

    Good luck!

  3. Lori A. Goldstein (@_lagold)December 18, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    I agree with the other posters about the last sentence of your logline. I'd also like a descriptor of Trent -- soldier, contractor, something. I actually like the first paragraph. I think you've done a good job of setting up what it's like to drive in a crowded place in the Middle East. Anyone who has seen pics of countries there will get it and your BBC line is great. I think the problem is that paragraph 2 does the same thing. It isn't new info, we already know the driving is crazy. Unfortunately readers and agents want as much crammed into the first page as possible so duplicating info like that isn't in your best interest. I know it screws up your joke but....

  4. I agree with the other posters about the logline dilemma. I don't know if that is the kind of hook I'd go with. The suspense/thriller genre usually does have a love interest, but I'm not sure it's crucial to the main storyline. Her imminent danger could be an impetus to the immediacy of the problem though. Anyway, that's better said above.
    I enjoyed the darting traffic and feels it sets the stage well. Both people and dog, though, froze and then darted. In two consecutive paragraphs, that's one too much--I would keep the dog scenario though. I love animals, and I love a character that would go off the road trying to avoid him. I like the joke too. It sets up a nice contrast between Trent and the others. Trent Argent rhymes. Is that done purposefully? Also, Argent= money in French. An interesting choice, but it stops me. Personally, I think action setting is a good opening for a book. I think the story is starting here, and well. One more thought, I really like the imagery of the woman in the burka, the kaleidoscope, the bug-splattered windshield. I would keep all this, and the honking (which seems to be typical there). I would keep reading.