Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #3

TITLE: Emissary
GENRE: YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Audrey Grey stared down the cold beady eyes challenging her. She narrowed her eyes and reached out to flick the Dungeness crab out of her way.

Scram, dungy.

The crab reared up on its hind legs, stretched out a meaty claw, and clamped down on her finger.

You bastard!

She waved her neoprene-gloved hand, whipping the crab's free claw to and fro, its pinchers snapping wildly, like a drunken cowboy riding a mechanical bull. The beady-eyed crab gave up and pin-wheeled off into the colorless void.

Favoring her throbbing finger, she pulled a neon-pink Zip Tie from a band wrapped around her wrist. It took several stabs to loop the plastic tip through the net and around a cable at the bottom of the makeshift aquarium. The thick rubbery gloves protecting her hands from the freezing cold water made the simple task cumbersome. And she was behind schedule.

Her frustration mounted when a Zip Tie slipped from her fingers for the umpteenth time. She clenched her teeth.

Chill. Can't. It's Friday.

In the distance, the sudden churn of giant propellers from the 7:35 ferry pulling away from its dock
invaded her underwater world. On the surface, the ferry hummed quietly along, but underwater, it sounded like whipping samurai swords in the heat of battle. She envisioned the drawn faces of early morning commuters peeking out from its brightly lit windows, oblivious to the noisy commotion.

Soon she'd be one of those sad faces, heading home to Seattle.


  1. Hello! The title alone on this one enticed me, so I had to take a quick peek (smiles). I think you've got a good start here, there are a couple of place where I'd change up some words, just so you're not repeating yourself.

    In the first paragraph you have her mention the beady-eyed crab then further down you have her use the same description. I'd lose one or the other as the reader will already know it's beady eyed.

    And the paragraph beginning with "In the distance" you have underwater twice in a row, I'd just change one of them up.

    Other than that, great job!

  2. Okay, I enjoyed the interaction with the crab in the beginning, but then I got a little confused. In the sixth paragraph you mentioned an 'makeshift aquarium.' It made me think that she was in or around an aquarium, but then you have a ferry go by. So I am left without a firm grasp of what she is doing or where she is. I am sure you clear this up further down so I would probably withhold judgment and keep going if it was longer.
    Great job!

  3. I think there's a lot of extra wordiness that could be cut to make this begging stronger. You use "eyes" twice in the first two sentences and again later. You also have neoprene and neon-pink in close succession. Some cleaning up would make this much stronger.
    That said, i enjoyed the samurai swords simile. Also, i LOLd when she called the crab "dungy".

  4. I liked the start of this but I got a bit lost in the middle. I couldn't picture exactly what she was doing, but that might just be me!

    One little thing - I think it's pincers rather than pinchers for a crab. I may be wrong or it may be an English/American thing (I'm a Brit) in which case I apologise.

    I love the 'drunken cowboy'.

  5. I liked drunken cowboy image too :) I'm with everyone on being a little confused about the setting. I couldn't place her. I don't understand what she's actually doing either, with the zip ties and cables. I think you have an interesting scene, but the confusion needs to be cleared up to make me trust enough to read on.

  6. I agree with the others, the setting needs to be clearer. There are places you can tighten and be careful of repeated phrases. Other than that, this seems really interesting!

  7. I wasn't hooked. I don't know where she is or what she's doing, and I don't know what is important here.

    Parg 1 - she's flicking the crab away which means it must be small, so why not just move it or walk around it? And while the crab scene is fun, does it matter? The crab is gone and the MC moves on to other things. Perhaps spend more time on the thing that matters to the plot.

    Do we need to know the twist tie is neon pink? Again, save descriptions for things that are important to the plot.

    In the second last parg you mention her underwater world and the ferry 'on the surface' which now makes me think she is underwater rather than fishing around in a fish tank type aquarium. If she is underwater, could she hear the ferry?

    What is the thing that matters here? What is she trying to accomplish and why is she behind schedule? Perhaps start with that.

  8. This was quite funny, and I'm a sucker for any protagonist who is a bit of science nerd which Audrey seems like she might be. What this lacks is a sense of place and movement. The part with Audrey battling the crab is easy (and fun) to visualize, but you start to lose me with "under water world" and "the simple task" and "the ferry above." I truly enjoyed this concept. I encourage you to focus on the world-building.

  9. I really enjoyed this opening, probably because I'm a bit of an underwater-geek myself. :-)

    I thought you conveyed a nice sense of humor here, giving some solid voice to your MC.

    As with the others, I was a little confused as to where she was exactly, and what the purpose of the opening told us about the story, but I can't say I didn't enjoy it. I would definitely read on.

  10. This is too over-written (too many adjectives) for my taste. Instead of helping me understand what's going on, all the extra detail keeps me from being drawn into the scene and identifying with your character.

  11. I'm guessing you've bagged crabs yourself before, because there's a lot of detail in here. I'm just not sure it's the right level of detail for the first page. I feel like you need to spend your first page setting the scene a little. In fact, after re-reading, I'm wondering if you would be better off starting with "In the distance..." This was my favourite paragraph and your writing is very strong here. You can introduce the bagging and tagging stuff a bit later.

  12. I like the image this creates, but I think the setting is a bit confusing. The first time I read it, I thought she was on the surface so when you get to words like "underwater world" it seems confusing. But when I read through it a second time, I already knew that we were supposed to be underwater so it was easier to pick up on those setting cues. I just think it'd better if it was clear that this was taking place underwater on the first read rather than the second.