Wednesday, May 13, 2009

41 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Train
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Jack Amentia chugged the last ounces from his whiskey bottle and dropped it into the darkness. Thinking no last thoughts or prayers, he turned his back toward New York City and looked up at the starlit sky.

Tires screeched and a car door opened.

“Hey buddy! Don’t jump! Don’t jump!” The man yelled back at his wife. “Call 911. Now!”

More tires screeched and more car doors opened. The crowd gathered near the railing and reached out beyond the steelwork to stop the suicidal man.


“Give us your hand!”

Their pleas went unheeded. Jack leaned back and disappeared.

Crescent shaped, he saw the bridge fade away and heard nothing but the wind rushing past his body. The saddened face of his late wife Joanne appeared on the evening sky. She was as alive as just a few days before.

“Jack!” she cried. “Not this way!”

Her face vanished.

One of the stars flashed like a supernova and from it, a figure soared toward the falling man. His expression concerned, as he called out in a voice both powerful and deliberate. Jack recognized him. The apparition was his grandfather.

“Say you want to live!” He implored. “Say it!”

His grandfather extended his hand.

“Grab my hand and say it! Before it’s too late!”

Jack clasped his hand before plunging into the frigid water and screamed the phrase like a condemned man praying for one last wish.



  1. Sad. I have heard that suicides do change there mind half way down, but for most it's too late. I'm curious to see if he lived. I live the Grandfather appearing to try to stop him. Good job.

  2. Too many emotions. The people in cars stopping and trying to get him to climb down are too distracting. You have a solemn mood as he's contemplating his jump, and then sudden, raucous excitement as people start screaming at him, and then morose again as he falls, and then suddenly excited as he's screaming I want to live.

    Too much going on. Much of that could be cut out, and would still be good.

    "She was as alive as just a few days before" is troublesome to read. Choppy sentences, not enough showing and too much telling.

    Not hooked.

  3. There's definitely potential here. Attempted suicide is interesting, but you need to follow through. The tone comes across as rather maudlin to me - the pleading crowd, his dead wife's face, "like a condemned man." If you want to make your protagonist's feelings genuine, you'll need to explore some pretty dark places before giving him hope again.

    A few technical things. "The man yelled back at his wife" looks like it's attached to the first quoted sentence rather than the second. Kind of confusing. And I'm not sure what you mean by "crescent shaped." If that refers to the bridge, it's not very clear.

    As it stands now, I'm not quite hooked.

  4. Agreed with almost everything above. The idea is a cool one. But it's just too confusing. Not hooked, sorry.

    And this line:

    Jack clasped his hand before plunging into the frigid water and screamed the phrase like a condemned man praying for one last wish.

    Is way to melodramatic for my taste.

  5. I agree with the taking out of the other people and their cars. I think it would make the tone settle in deeper and we'd realise his despair more fully.

    either have his wife or the grandfather, but not both. This is too fantastic, especially with the grandfather bursting from a supernova.

    Keeping it simple and internal is much more effective.

  6. Sorry, I'm not hooked. I think part of my problem is I couldn't picture the scene with people disapearing and appearing and soaring....

  7. I'm not hooked. The biggest issue for me is that there is nothing that he sees, feels, or experiences on the way down to show that he changed his mind, just his grandfather's ghost (spirit/angel/whatever) telling him to. I don't find it a believable set-up, so I'd probably put it down.

  8. This was confusing. The concept is good but the execution needs some work. You have overused the exclamation point so much that it is distracting. I don't think you need the all caps in last line. I think the people getting out of their cars is distracting. I need more about what he is thinking and feeling.

  9. This has potential to be really gripping but I think it falls short in a few ways. First, I would remove the reference to the cars stopping -- it seems to jump from his POV and is confusing when the sentence refers to "the suicidal man". He might hear the sounds but they should be muted by his despair.

    Also, I found the wife and then grandfather appearing to him to be a bit much -- one or the other as previous commenters have noticed. I get the idea that your MC is attempting suicide because his wife recently died and I could believe he might see her as he falls, but to have her speak to him and then his grandfather -- it stretches belief a bit too much for me. Othewise, the writing is decent.

  10. I loved this. I found myself thinking "say it say it!" Im interested to know how his grandfather helps him again.

  11. Very confusing. The story goes back and forth from an external viewpoint to his internal viewpoint. The worst example is "Crescent shaped, he saw the bridge . . ." The jumps from external to internal in a few words.

    Contrary to some of the others, I like the yelling from other people on the scene. It adds to the realism, and the lines are well-written.

    Mark in the Seattle area

  12. I kind of liked the confusion of this. There are some sentences that could be tightened, but I followed the imagery.

    Still, I think what is really missing is the transition from peaceful resignation to his wanting to live. You need to add that transition or it just seems really convenient that he manages to say the words at the last second.

  13. I loved it - thought it totally rocked. Very owerful, very emotional. Completely Hooked :-)

  14. I like the concept, but a couple of no nos bugged me. Never use an exclamation point! Never SHOUT (I WANT TO LIVE) (and then add an exclamation point). Check out The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman amoung others. The strength of the words should carry the day, trust your reader, they're either emotionally invested or not.
    Best of luck.

  15. I'd like to care about him before he jumps off the bridge. His wife's death seems to be the catalyst. Why not start there?

    Is is a bit melodramatic, as well. Maybe try to tone it down a bit.

    Sorry, not hooked.

  16. Kinda hooked. I have to admit I had to read it a couple of times to figure out that Jack was the person jumping. I like the last four paragraphs, I would recommend simplifying what is above that. I'd keep reading to see what happens to him.

    Good luck.

  17. Not hooked, but not totally turned off, either. I'm thinking - good idea, bad execution.

    Give us a bit more time with him on the bridge. Get into his head a bit so we get to know him a little and care when he jumps.

    I liked the people stopping but thought there were too many. Maybe use one or two, certainly no more than three.

    Seeing the two dead people was too much for me. I'd stick with just the grandfather.

    And you had him plunge into the water, then shout 'I want to live.' You might want to have him shout before he goes underwater, unless your intent is for it to be too late. Keeping working on it.

  18. This was intriguing. I think it could be tightened a bit to help with some of the confusion, but it's very close to being a perfect hook. Good job.

  19. Hmm. I have mixed feelings on this one. I was clear about what was going on and it's a fascinating concept. I like it as an opening scene. I think the one thing I didn't like was the dialogue. Too stilted. Also, I'd like to get a better connection with the protagonist. There's information here, but not an emotional connection. I know he has lost his wife, he's drinking, but how is he feeling? Obviously, he's also suicidal, but is he drunk suicidal or crazy suicidal or depressed suicidal? How does he feel about the people screaming at him not to jump? I'd just like to have less of the people trying to dissuade him and more of him, if that makes any sense.

    Also, this is weird, but having his grandfather flying around in front of him reminded me distinctly of a scene from Hood Winked.

    I hope these comments help, and good luck!

  20. Your character needs to be in the moment. What does he see, smell, feel, taste, hear? What parts of the bridge catch his eyes? What is below the bridge?

    Use the bridge location as an emotional point. Maybe he proposed to his wife nearby. Maybe the bridge had some connection to her death.

    As others have said, you also need to give him some reason to change his mind about saving himself.

  21. I'm torn. This was definitely intriguing and the scene was handled in an interesting way with the visions of this family. I think what's bothering me is I don't know if the detached, disjointed narration is done purposefully for effect or is the writing going to remain disembodied and unemotional when it no longer serves the scene. I'd read on to find out. It's an interesting setup.

  22. I loved this, would definately read on. I would remove no last thoughts, since while he is falling off the bridge he thinks of his dead wife. So he has some last thoughts.

    Good job..

  23. This is not hooking me due to the complete lack of plausibility here.

    If you stopped to help a jumper on the bridge, you would most likely get into a car accident. You *can't* stop short on the bridge without risk of your own life.