Thursday, November 13, 2008

25 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Overboard
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense

David Brewer’s mind was racing almost as fast as his body was falling. Why would someone do this to me? Who the hell pushed me over the railing? He tried to yell but the fifty-five foot plunge had taken his breath away, and when he crashed back-first into the ocean it sounded like a gunshot, followed by total silence. The menacing water swallowed him like a black hole, and he sank fifteen feet below the surface into total darkness.

Disoriented and panicky with excruciating pain racing through his lower body, Brewer flailed and kicked wildly—finally making it to the surface. He gasped for air and swallowed disgusting amounts of briny sea water. Brewer spat again and again, but the waves rolled at him relentlessly, each one smacking him hard in the face. He let out a feeble cry for help, but the floating resort was beyond the range where anyone onboard could hear him. His legs were like rubber, but he continued to kick to stay afloat. He closed one eye and squinted through a salty blur as he watched the lights of the cruise ship flicker farther and farther away.

The killer smiled triumphantly looking back at the vast darkness of the ocean. The only sound was waves careening into the ship’s hull, as the Tranquility of the Seas maintained her heading and forward speed through the eastern Caribbean Sea. As had been the case with the six other passengers who’d vanished from four different cruise ships in the past year, Brewer’s name would soon be unceremoniously removed from the ship’s manifest as the Tranquility of the Seas sailed on.


  1. I'm about halfway hooked. I'm not sure he would survive the drop which is what pulled me a bit out of the story.

  2. If somebody is fighting their way back up to the surface... would they be trying to figure out who pushed them in? I'd be like, fight for my life, think later...

    And, wouldn't the ship launch a search effort before removing his name?

  3. I think the idea of this is great... very timely in the sense that this could be ripped from the headlines.

    Still, the first sentence made me stop and debate whether someone could survive that kind of fall, and then the last one made it seem so easy a crime to get away with.

    I like the idea... but the execution has me debating. I'd probably read on though...

  4. I like the idea, too. The 50-foot fall didn't bother me--don't people cliff dive from heights like that?

    What pulled me out a little is when you say there was silence after he fell into the water. For Brewer, wouldn't he be hearing the bubbles swirling around him, etc. and even the hum of the ship's engine? Just a thought.

    I would totally read on, though. The villain sounds devious, and everything is always more interesting when confined to a small spot like a cruise ship!

  5. Wow. This is not my favorite genre, but you have me hooked!

  6. If the victim survives and is the hero, I wouldn't switch to the bad guy's viewpoint at this point. It ruins the hook of whether the victim will survive because it implies that he won't. (He's another victim of a serial killer that the real hero will chase down.)

    The victim's reactions aren't totally in the moment. He wouldn't, for example, judge how far he goes down in feet.

    If he's trying to survive, he'd control his body movement so he enters the water like a diver, not slamming backwards into the water which would probably break his back at that height.

    He's still probably be hurt, though.

    With some work, this could be a first rate hook.

  7. I'm not sure this works for me. I almost get the impression that Brewer doesn't survive because of the quick switch to the killer's POV. If he does survive, I'd like to know he at least stands a chance -- remembering his Boy Scout training (or some such nonsense.

    That said, I love the subject and can see how it would make for a fun read.

  8. I liked this and would read on, though I'll admit that the shift to the villan's POV did drag me out of the story.

  9. Good tension , right off the bat. But watch your passive voice. For example, you write: David Brewer’s mind was racing almost as fast as his body was falling. A more active version would be: David Brewer’s mind raced almost as fast as his body fell. Likewise, in such a tense, surprise situation, I don’t think your narrator would waste time (or be aware of) certain details like how far down he fell. Plus, falling on your back like this into the ocean from the height and speed of a cruise ship is more likely to kill a person (i.e., break their back/neck).

  10. I like the writing, and besides all the details previously mentioned that need looking into, I agree as well about the switch into the villains POV. I'd be disappointed getting all hooked and pulling for Brewer only to find out he's not even a character in the story but just a hapless victim. Good voice though, I'm not a reader of this genre but I could see myself reading this after mentioned tweaks.

  11. This is one of those prologues that I would tell an author to remove from a manuscript. It's overly melodramatic and really doesn't make me want to read any further.