Thursday, October 16, 2008

43 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Between the Shadows
GENRE: Science Fiction

Two trains and fifteen minutes ago, Daniel Evans' life was perfect.

He slid the door to the final compartment open. Greeted with scattered faces – uncaring and bland, he sighed. Nothing new. Thin fluorescent lights mounted to the roof of the compartment left little light to expel any shadow trying to invade.

A light at the back of the car flickered slightly. Shadows played on each person's face, obscuring their features and transforming them into something else.

Something less than human.

He shivered slightly and averted his eyes.

He pushed past several men dressed in identical black suits – dirty carbon copies of himself. The suits were a staple of their position as Prefects. At least that's what he used to be. The Wretched were after him now.

The slight rocking of the car on the tracks left a rumble growing and faltering with each new track crossed. He stared at the ground, trying to keep from focusing on the task at hand.

He wasn't succeeding.

Seventeen minutes ago, Daniel had been a functioning member of society. This latest train – the third and last in his short train-jumping career – careened toward its next stop. He suspected he had already passed the thin line of safety, impossible to detect but all too noticeable in hindsight.

There was little time to escape from their grasp. Running was the only option. Running, coupled with a blind hope of finding somewhere safe to hide, didn't give him much to go on.


  1. I like the voice here, and there's some nice intrigue with the references to "2 trains ago" and "17 minutes ago".

    When I'm reading about train compartments and Prefects, though, my mind wanders to Harry Potter.

    I'm not sure the shadows bits are helping you here. I assume they must be relevant, by your title, but as it's presented here it just seems like he looked at some folks in dim light and overreacted.

    I wouldn't say "hooked" but I would read on to see where this is going.

  2. I agree with the Harry Potter mind-jump, but I would keep going. I want to know why he's suddenly so different.

  3. I also like the voice here. It's very ominous, and gives a sense of impending disaster. Also, this: "A light at the back of the car flickered slightly. Shadows played on each person's face, obscuring their features and transforming them into something else.

    Something less than human."


  4. I didnt connect to Harry Potter to start, as this voice sounds adult to me. I did notice the use of slightly, the light in the back of the car, then he shivered slightly, where neither use seems needed, and the hook wobbles for me. The something less than human, I love it, and the hook tightens back up. But then, dirty carbon copies makes me think this guy needs a bath and I come across the label, Prefects and The Wretched, and now Harry Potter bells ring.
    Sorry, I'd set this aside. Good luck with it and thanks for sharing.

  5. Before I read the other comments my mind jumped to Harry Potter as well. Not sure that's an associated you want to keep.

  6. I love the first line, and I feel like you've got an interesting, possibly unique, story idea. But I'm also very slightly disgruntled and confused at the end of this--too much very new information loaded all at once. Not that I'm a computer--but I've got limits in how much of a world-system I can grasp in this amount of verbiage. My mind is probably puny, but I think you've topped those limits. Still I'd read on.

  7. I don't think of Harry Potter while reading at all. You can tell right from the start that this isn't going to be about some young adult wizards.

    The rest of it is good. I like the tension that you get right from the start and I'm curious to see where it leads.

  8. I admit, I jumped to Harry Potter for a second, too . . . but it passed. I enjoyed reading and would read on to see what's happening.

    The second paragraph, ". . . left little light to expel any shadow . . ." but the next paragraph says a light flickered (delete "slightly") and shadows played on the people's faces. If there was "little light" in the first place, wouldn't he see shadows across their faces anyway?

    I don't like the "dirty carbon copies" because it makes me think all the prefects need baths, including Daniel.

    Delete the "slightly" in reference to his shiver.

    I'm curious about the Wretched reference and assume they have something to do with the shadow references.

    I'd read on because I want to know if he did pass the line of safety and what will be waiting for him when the train stops.

  9. This has an excellent opening line- I already know that something has happened in the very recent past, and that our main character is on the run. My hope is that the next chapter will give me a better view of the world where this story takes place. When reading a novel with an action packed opening scene, I like a follow up that's a bit more informative and textured. This is definitely a good start.

  10. I didn't think of Harry Potter at all, and I re-read one of the HP novels this morning!
    I loved this. I'm hooked and I don't even read science fiction. great job

  11. Love the opening. It creates questions right away.

    The atmosphere is established early on, too, and that was helpful.

  12. This has a lot of potential (interesting voice, interesting set-up), but as it is it reads a bit rough, so it'd be a no from me.

  13. I remember this from a previous incarnation, so the prefects and trains didn't hinder me. Plus, it's obvious this isn't a YA book. I like the dark mood and nervous atmosphere, but I'd want to know more about the plot before reading further. I lean towards fantasies, not science fiction, so something about the plot would need to captivate me first.

  14. I really like the changes you've made since we've last seen this. But I'm still kinda feeling disconnected from the MC. It feels like we're not experiencing the scene (or the tension) from Daniel's perspective.

  15. I like it! The voice and pacing are right on target. Definitely going to have to change it a little bit to be able to get beyond the perception of a Harry Potter link. The one thing I didn't like was the "shivered slightly" part. Just don't like the adverb here. Other than that, it's a YES for me.

  16. Great start! It does feel a little rough and choppy, but that's fixable with some editing.

    I'm definitely intrigued.

  17. I've seen this one before. And I'm still interested. There could be some tightening, but I like it.

  18. I like the atmosphere in this - very creepy but I didn't find myself sympathizing with the narrator. I think the writing could be much tighter. EG Fifth sentence - very meandering and awkward. Tighter writing would give the start more impact - by that I mean the first few hundred words.I really like the opening sentence.

  19. I remember this piece. I think this one is good, but I still feel the immediacy isn't as strong as it could be. There's a lot of backward thinking instead of thinking about what his next move is, where he's going, etc.

    It's definitely got potential, though.

  20. I'm on the fence. I can't say I'm hooked yet, but I'm definitely intrigued by the situation, so would probably read on for a little bit.

    I guess maybe because I don't know the character or what happens if he's caught, I'm not entirely sure why I should care, but I do like that he's in trouble and trying to escape.

    Good luck,