Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #41

TITLE: Dead Ringer
GENRE: YA Thriller

Jorgen fingered the knife and inhaled a foul aroma. A black garbage bag was shredded in the diner's alley, its contents scattered and feasted upon by an enormous rat. The smell was a blend of rotting garnishes, curdled milk, used oil from grease traps, and cigarette butts. It was a shame to conduct business in a place like this.

The girl watched him with no visible fear. She waited for his movement, gracefully tensing her calves in an alternating pattern so that she swayed, ever so slightly, back and forth like a cornered prizefighter. Left, right, left, right. She wasn't talking, and it was time to end things.
"This is your last chance," he said, eyeing her throat. "Please believe I'm being honest with you about that. Tell me."

Part of him admired the TAG operative, and did not want to kill her. He would do it though; she wasn't giving him the information about Recall X, whatever that was. An event, a location, a person--it could be anything. He was rarely informed. Their agencies shared similar interests in projects quite often, but what she was doing in Philadelphia, he was unsure of. Perhaps it was a safety rest. If so, it was about to come to an abrupt halt.

"I can't answer your question. My apologies to the Heidengul."

Ridiculous, Jorgen thought. "You're sure?"

She nodded, still waiting.

He let out a heavy sigh, tightening his grip on the blade. "Wrong answer."

12 comments:

Elena Solodow said...

You had me up until this paragraph:

Part of him admired the TAG operative, and did not want to kill her. He would do it though; she wasn't giving him the information about Recall X, whatever that was. An event, a location, a person--it could be anything. He was rarely informed. Their agencies shared similar interests in projects quite often, but what she was doing in Philadelphia, he was unsure of. Perhaps it was a safety rest. If so, it was about to come to an abrupt halt.

It's one big info-dump. As a reader, I want information told in a natural way, through dialogue and action. Think of this way: Is any of this information vital to the beginning of the story? And is any of this information repeated later on in the novel? If so, cut this paragraph. I had a great crit once that said: A reader should have to work a little to read your book - just don't make them work too hard.

So in other words, leave us in the dark a bit so we want to read more. Turn the lights on every once in a while, but at the start of a story especially, leave me wanting more so that I make it to the end of the chapter.

Bluestocking said...

I like the idea of a showdown between two (gov't?) operatives. The description of the girl's movements was also very vivid. Not sure what's so important they have to fight. More banter may be a way to add tension and introduce info to the reader (or tease them into reading more). I'd read on, but I'd want to see a bit more about what's going on, who Jorgen is, etc.

Ashley Girardi said...

I agree with Elena. I didn't mind the feeling that I was walking into the middle of a conversation but this takes a completely random turn.

You expect us to process a lot of information: TAG, Recall X, Heidengul, without any real payoff. I have no idea who Jorgen is or why I should care.

I like the idea of this setup but maybe you should flesh out the dialogue a little bit and reveal the information in a more natural way.

Barbara said...

The premise sounds interesting but I didn't think it worked as presented. The opening parg. was really clunky reading and leads me to believe it's going to have some importance. Then I get to parg. 2 are realize the first parg. doesn't matter at all. Perhaps start with the girl and add the smells of the garbage in as a backdrop.

Also, there is no indication he has this girl in his clutches, or that he's threatening her until he says - this is your last chance. Until then, she could be standing anywhere doing anything. And if he's threatening her, why is he focusing on her calves? (Although I did like that description!) Pehaps mention that's he's pressing her against a wall or clutching her by the neck or something that shows she's a captive.

Third parg. is an info dump and others have already commented. And then sighing and saying - you're sure? - when the girl refuses to tell him what he wants doesn't make him sound very threatening. He comes across as a bit bumbling, and I didn't get the impression that you were going for that. Perhaps consider rewriting the opening.

Anja said...

I like this, but I skimmed though the third paragraph. Cut it and weave it in after this point. Right now it reads like an info dump and kills the pace and intrigue.

Love the last line.

I would read a little further to see where it's going. So consider me hooked. :D


Good luck with it!

Diva said...

Your scene-setting was so vivid I said "ew" out loud.

The girl seems pretty calm for someone apparently out of options.

I think the third paragraph would work well if it was dialogue rather than information. Do we need to know all of this at this point in the story? I didn't know what a "safety rest" was, although I like the "about to come to an abrupt halt."

Great last line.

Divawrites said...

That last comment should be from Divawrites. Hit the wrong key.

Joel Q said...

I didn't care much for this entry. I agree with most of the comments above.
This scene seems a little too familiar... answer my questions or I'll kill you. If you have to go this route for the story gives us more, a fresh take on this.

Some good descriptions and noticable voice in here, so the talent is there.

Secret Agent said...

I am very confused. First there is Jorgen (male, I believe), looking at a rat. Then there is a girl staring at him. Is the rat a girl? (At first read, it seemed like that possibly). Then, there is a lot of information presented without any context: TAG operative, Recall X, Heidengul. This was hard to follow and it's too much information too quickly without getting to know the characters.

On a side note, this didn't feel YA to me as I was reading. I don't think I'd keep reading after this.

Blodwyn said...

I liked the scene setting in the beginning with the smell and the garbage. But then I got a bit lost, with the TAG operative and things that other posters have commented on. It felt like a info dump. That being said, I think your premise is great. It just needs to be developed differently.

Angela Robbins said...

a little too much info dumping with all those unfamiliar things like TAG , Recall X, etc...

This didn't seem YA, but more adult to me.

not sure on this one.

Quinn said...

I really liked this setup. But the voice doesn't sound YA to me -- it sounds older.

Also, when you're descrbing the garbage, would Jorgen really be noticing "garnishes" cause otherwise, you should change that I think.

I agree with what some of the others have said about you giving too much up front -- TAG, Recall X, Heidengul.