Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #38

TITLE: The Devil You Know
GENRE: Upper YA Urban Fantasy

The doctors were going to kill me if I didn't get out of here. They wouldn't mean to, but their intentions wouldn't change the result one bit. The machine monitoring my vitals screamed to life, and large, rough hands pinned me down as someone rammed needles into my arms. Fingers flew past my vision, blurs against the stark white ceiling. An icy chill raced through my arm as the medication pumped into my system. My struggles ceased; I no longer had the energy to fight anyway.

Two months. Two more months and I would have been close enough to touch the research that could save my life. With the way this group was acting, I'd never make it.

"We're losing her." The nurse with the brilliant red hair kept her tone even and her hands steady, but panic rolled off her in waves, crashing over me and pulling me under.

Shivers wracked my body, and my eyes started to roll back into my head. I blinked hard, trying to fight against the force sucking the life from me.

A man leaned over my body, pressed something cold against my chest then started barking orders. "Call the surgical team, were sending her up now. And someone cut the damn alarms!" He was young.


  1. Something bad is happening, but I can't tell what or why.

    "...touch the research that could save my life." Find it or do the research?

    How about instead of "He was young," at the end, you say "A young man leaned over my body." You want each word to count - to clarify. This needs some tightening and it will be much better.

  2. I wanted to like this but I felt like the voice was off somehow. Maybe too old for YA. And the details the MC notices do not seem realistic for a dying girl. The red hair and steady hands on a panicked nurse is too much. I'm not sure what to think.

  3. I didn't feel like I got enough information to keep me going. The research thing was a good hint, but I needed more.

    Also, the first couple of lines didn't sound urgent enough for the rest of it.

    I agree about the red hair . . . with everything that's happening to her, seems like a trivial/odd detail to notice.

    I see this as having a lot of possibility though. Good luck!

  4. Not really hooked - maybe because there's so much, well, talking in the middle of a tense scene: about the two months and the doctors' intentions.

    What if you started Shivers wracked my body ...?

    And while it may seem odd, I love the line He was young - because it's just the odd sort of thought someone would have while being wheeled off into surgery.

  5. Not exactly hooked. This scene's really intense, which is tough for a reader who's just meeting your characters. I need something to ground me in the story. As it's written, I'm not interested enough to flip the page. But if you give me something more about your narrator up front, that could change.

    Good luck!

  6. I felt that there was a disconnect between the second and third lines. Is she having the thoughts in the first two sentences just before the machines go off? As I read them I thought this was backstory, but then the machines start going off.

    I'm not really hooked by this. I'm pretty sure the narrator isn't going to die, or if she does, she'll have some kind of afterlife, so I'm not too tense. If I knew more about the story I might read on, but this alone isn't enough to entice me.

  7. Not hooked. What's missing for me is your MC's take on all this. She's telling us all this stuff that's going on around her and being done to her. Seems she should be commenting on how she feels. Is she scared? Does she know what thing is trying to pull the life from her? Does she wonder. Is she thinking - Save me, you fools. The MC is narrating the scene in which she should be the star, but she's hardly even in it.

  8. I'd like you to use a more active verb form than the xx-ing one for your first line. Maybe: "The doctors would kill me if I didn't get out of here."

    The suggested wording gives the sentence more power, more immediacy, whereas what you've written seems more leisurely.

    You've begun with a life-threatening scene, which helps. I'm guessing your MC absorbs emotions from other people (an empath?).

    I'd certainly turn the page to see what happens to her.

  9. Not hooked. The first paragraph tripped me up (the same thing that Bron noticed - first she's telling us things that will happen, then she's telling us things that are happening; maybe you could add a paragraph break right there?), and the rest didn't bring me back in.

    Also, I wonder at a teenager doing groundbreaking research. It worked for Artemis Fowl, but that was because Eoin Colfer took the time to really shore up his character. Here, I don't trust the character enough (yet) to buy into a line like that.

  10. I'm... confused and not very interested. I might be more interested if I cared about the person they are jabbing needles into.

  11. (Admission: I've commented on this query on another forum, so I may know more about the book than others here.) I like your first three sentences. After that, I start to lose it. By the fourth paragraph, I'm gone. Make us like her before we have to worry about whether she dies or not.