Wednesday, August 19, 2009

44 Secret Agent

TITLE: Untouched
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

I had no idea who she was when she walked into my room. I had no idea she brought death in with her, either. Not at first. All I knew was that she interrupted my quiet escape from this life that held me captive. I was staring at the ceiling, cursing the life that had cursed me in return, when I heard an unusual sound. Footsteps.

Soft, clicking footsteps. The kind that clattered against the linoleum floor and echoed off the walls in an otherwise silent hallway. Not typically unusual, but amongst the hum of medical equipment I was so used to, it stood out. Someone was walking toward my isolated room in my nearly forgotten corner.

I tilted my head so I could see the display of the clock beside me. Straining my eyes against the darkness, the glaring red numbers bled through the night and revealed that it was just past three. I couldn't imagine why anyone would come to my room at this hour. There was no reason to. The doctors had made it perfectly clear that there was nothing more they could do for me.

For a moment I let my hopes get the best of me, and whispered into the darkness. “Momma?”

With my last bit of reason I knew it wouldn't be my mother. She left me two hours ago, retiring home to get five hours of sleep before coming back to the hospital at dawn. For nearly a decade she'd spent the majority of her time at my side, talking me through my sickness. Comforting me, despite the fact that my death was nearly killing her.

Before she left I promised her I would be okay without her. I promised her I would live through the night. I lied.


  1. This one hooked me. I was curious about who was coming, and why the mc was dying. And I loved the last paragraph. Nicely done.

  2. Hooked!Who is the person?What are they doing there?

  3. I liked this. I would read on. I did get tripped up over some the sentences that seemed overly long like this one:

    Straining my eyes against the darkness, the glaring red numbers bled through the night and revealed that it was just past three.

    That seems like a lot just to say it was just past three. Other than that, I would flip to page two because I want to see who is coming!

  4. Not quite hooked. The first few sentences seem redundent after reading the rest of the opening and at times the sentences felt wordy and distracting. Interesting premise, though

  5. "I promised her I would live through the night. I lied."

    That's a hook and a half!

    I would tighten up everything that comes before it, however. A few too many details for my taste. But I would keep reading.

  6. This gave me chills - in a good way. Definitely hooked!!!

  7. How old is the protagonist?

    I like the situation, and I'd read on to see what horrible thing is about to step into her hospital room!

    But I felt a little impatient in spots with some of the repetition and wordiness. This could be a smidgeon tighter...

  8. Geez, I'm usually not a stickler, but this one has 296 words....

    What's up? And I so hate bean counters, or being the one to notice. I feel a headache coming on.

  9. I feel like I've read this before from a previous contest. If that's the case, I think I liked it better then.

    I liked the ending of this, but not so much the beginning. I had trouble getting into the first paragraph, mostly because I had to read through the fourth and fifth paragraphs several times to understand what was happening. Tighten it a bit, see if you can make those shorter. It'll help dummys like me :)

    In fact, I really think you could start at the second paragraph.

    Anyway, I'm not quite hooked, but I think that's personal preference more than anything. You've got a number of people rooting for you above, so I wouldn't be too worried :)

  10. Meg, counting beans or not, thanks for your comment.

    Several entries go way over the 250 word limit... some people seem to be ending their submissions at a natural stopping point.

    I might submit an opening when my genre comes up. And sure, I'd like to submit 300 or 350 words, but hey, that ain't fair!

  11. The first three paragraphs didn't grab me and I felt there were problems with overwriting, so I stopped reading. At the end of the first paragraph, I thought "footsteps are not really an unusual sound." The concept might be intriguing, though--maybe a better starting place is farther down in the manuscript. I have some concerns about this being more YA if the character is calling for her mom.

  12. I can understand wanting to squeak in a few (or more than a few) extra words to get to the so-called exciting/interesting part, because your last paragraph is definitely it. So maybe you could make that your opening paragraph instead, with a few minor changes (i.e., "Before Momma left I promised her I would be okay without her...").

    And that brings up something else: Is the main character already dead by the time somebody's walking toward him/her? If not, the choppiness in the chronology may be an issue. If he/she is, then you'll definitely want to make that fact clearer, since that's the interesting part.

  13. I agree with most of the other commenters--especially the last one who recommended moving that last paragraph up (possibly as an opening paragraph).

    Also, I dislike the inclusion of so many extra words as well. That is a bit much. It's a lot of work for Authoress to do these competitions, and if people disregard the rules like this, she might quit doing them. I would--if I couldn't trust people to read the directions and follow the rules, and therefore I had to word-count and enforce them--I would save my time and just not do the contest. Please don't ruin it for everyone else.

  14. This wasn't bad. I think this is one of the ones where it would depend on the backcover copy - if it was intriguing I'd read on. I had a problem with the description of the footsteps. They're soft in one sentence and clattering in the next. To me, clattering would imply loud. And clicking and clattering make me think of two different sounds.