Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #36

TITLE: Day 10K
GENRE: Science Fiction

The huge emergency generator belched out a cloud of black smoke -- the last test-run, in case the banks did collapse tomorrow. Offended, Shushan jumped onto the metal ladder of the eight-foot tall mass of cinder blocks that housed the smelly thing.

Not fair. She could feel her world turning -- turning into something new with endless horizons and scintillating challenges that beckoned her onward. She was ready to climb out of everything known and comfortable, just as her own body had practically burst out of her old clothing in the past year and demanded things like a larger denim jacket and rougher roads to ride on. The future shone in every patch of blue sky the oily smoke was staining, and if climbing each rung of the ladder felt like she was making the world turn faster, she was ready to grasp every rung again and pull harder.

Her backpack couldn't stop her from reaching the top -- it was made of lightweight webbing from synthetic Earth materials, not their own old-fashioned cloth types. Shushan slung it down as she grasped the rounded top of the ladder and watched for any angry gestures from the bank across the parking lot where she worked as an assistant. No one said that climbing this generator housing was against the rules, and this was going to be her last act of defiance before she left.

She strode across the tar paper roof and kicked the steel pipe that served as a smokestack.

12 comments:

Joan Strading said...

I see potential here, but this doesn't hook me right now.

I'm not sure what her act of defiance is if it's not against the rules in the first place.

I am curious, but not hooked completely . . . nibbling at the bait, I suppose. ;-)

Jade said...

Good writing, but I was confused as to what exactly she was doing until the end. Maybe because I'm not so familiar with the sci-fi genre, but I really didn't know where she was climbing out of and to.

Emily Lavin Leverett said...

I agree that I'm not hooked yet. I don't get why she is offended. And I agree with an above comment that it is hard for something to be defiance when it isn't against the rules. Is she there to fix it? To break it? What? The backpack line tells us that this might not be earth, but that seems to be the only reason. Also, the use of "feel" is telling.

I think I need a better sense of place and of conflict. Why is she doing what's she doing?

Sarah said...

Not hooked I'm afraid. Why is Shushan offended in the first paragraph? You open the second paragraph with 'not fair', yet the paragraph seems to describe possibilities and potential, so what's not fair? In the third paragraph, the backpack won't stop her reaching the top as it's lightweight, but she slings it down anyway, so did we need the description of it or was it just a way of telling us she's not on earth?

I'm sorry, I wouldn't read on at the moment.

Tatiana said...

I'm confused. Why is she offended? I get the sense that she's sad to be leaving... yet at the same time, you said that she was ready to move on? The 'Not fair' also didn't seem to fit.

Sara J. Henry said...

You've got a mixed and confusing image here:

She was ready to climb out of everything known and comfortable, just as her own body had practically burst out of her old clothing in the past year and demanded things like a larger denim jacket and rougher roads to ride on.

Her body burst out of her clothing - because she gained weight? she's a teen who grew a lot? But the real problem here is that you've mixed a literal example - She needs a larger denim jacket - with a figurative one - She wants rougher roads to ride on.

And all this before we know her, care about her, have an idea what this world is she lives in ... we get the idea that something big is going to happen that she isn't happy about - but don't know what.

And this is a good passage, but because of its placement (before we know who she is or care about her or understand what is at stake), it's wasted here:

The future shone in every patch of blue sky the oily smoke was staining, and if climbing each rung of the ladder felt like she was making the world turn faster, she was ready to grasp every rung again and pull harder.

tangynt said...

I agree with Sara, the passage about her hopes and dreams and visions for the future is out of place before a connection has been established with the MC. I was curious as to what she was offended, I took it to mean that the machine malfunctioning--I assumed she was trying to fix it--was a personal affront to her.

To be honest, I skimmed the lot about her wants and goals and what not, trying to get to what she was doing and why, simply because I didn't know enough about her to really care about all of that prior stuff. It was a deluge that was more a speech than an internal monologue. Wasn't interested in her, wasn't interested in that, so I would suggest cutting it and pulling it in later once we get to know Shushan a but.

Not hooked, intrigued, would give it another page or two to draw me in.

Barbara said...

She's testing the emergency generator in case the banks fail? To me, a bank failure is running out of money. Why would a generator matter in that situation?

What is she offended by? Is she the person who fixes the generator and is offended that someone might imply it won't work?

It seems there is going to be a big change tomorrow which she resents, but is also ready for, and is even looking forward to its new possibilities (but then why would she resent it?)

Now, it turns out she works at the bank across the street, so why is she climbing the generator? WHat is her last act of defiance?

These are the thoughts I had as I read, and as you can see, I'm just not getting it. Perhaps work on making it clearer or more easily understood (or maybe it's just me.)

Tori said...

I don't grasp her motivation, goal or conflict here. It started it off okay, but lost me after the first paragraph.

sbjames said...

AS the others have said, It just seems like too much too soon. There's some interesting stuff going on here, and an interesting MC- I want to understand it all. Just remember that though Shushan and this world is all figured out in your head- we don't know any of it yet. So something that may seem obvious to you isn't to the reader.

One of the first things that made me say Huh? was the line- Not Fair. I wasn't sure who she meant that to nor why- the generator for fouling the air? the possible collapse? the world in general?

Victora - Secret Agent said...

I am so sorry I didn't comment earlier. I accidentally skipped this!

I like the sense of longing and change; the idea that the future is looming and Shushan is eager to get to it. But ultimately, that means very little to me without any indication of her past.

Why so eager for the future? What is so dissatisfying about her past that she wants it to change? There's a real opportunity to create tension here, by hinting at past that the reader will want to understand. I think if you build that element up this would be much more captivating.

Spiral said...

Sci-Fi isn't my favorite genre, and I'll admit I don't read much in it, but I think the potential here has been buried under a lot of narratve. I actually stopped reading this about half-way through, but went back to it because it's one that needs feedback. I try to visualize my scenes in my head, write down what my gut tells me and what I'm seeing in very simple terms. You'd be surprised at how much better the wording is when you start simple. I don't get much sense of what the conflict is other than she seems ticked off about the smoke. Best of luck to you!