Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #28

GENRE: Contemporary Women's Fiction

4 November 1983

"He's not moving," I push back the dark hair from Glen's sweating forehead. It's cold. "Floz, he's bleeding from the mouth!"

"They've already called an ambulance."


"Some guy." Floz wrings his fedora with both hands. "I don't know, some guy in the club. Iz knows."

"Glen!" I cradle him and watch as blood soaks through his shirt and onto my arms and legs. "Floz, he's not moving!"

"I know!"

It's strange, but I register the flash of the ambulance lights before the cry of the siren, the alternating strobes of blue and red splashed on the blank walls outside the club.

"Miss, I'm gonna have to ask you to step out of the way."

Floz touches my shoulder.

"He won't answer me," I try to tell the EMT. My lungs can't seem to take in enough air. "Why won't he answer me?"

"Libby," Floz tugs at my arm.

"I wanna go with him." I look from Floz to the EMT, watching as they strap Glen onto a board. "Do you see? He's bleeding from the mouth!"

"We've got it under control."

"I wanna go with him. Floz, I wanna go with him, dammit!"

They load Glen's body through the back of the ambulance doors and I try to climb in. At first, I think I'll get shoved back and I'm ready to claw my way up. But then another EMT grabs my arm and hoists me in.

"Sit here," she says gruffly.

I nod.


  1. I think it is great to start a story with an emotionally potent moment. I want to see a real test to the characters so they can come alive on the page and the wheels of plot can go spinning into motion. I think that is what you are trying for here. That being said, I have a hard time grounding my sense of where we are and who these people are. It is a tricky balance, but I feel like we need more narrative here to establish setting and relationships in order to care about the characters. The dialogue doesn't give me enough, on its own, to keep reading. I do love the name Floz for a character. Good luck with this.

  2. I agree with JM. It needs more setting description. I had a difficult time picturing what was happening. But yes, it is a good place to start the story, I think. In the middle of tension/conflict. So you're half-way there in my opinion :)

  3. I love how you've started in the middle of such an intense moment. I agree that some supporting narrative would help, although the rapid-fire dialogue nicely conveys the confusion/panic. I want to know what's happening here!

  4. Mostly echoing what others have said. High tension, but it's hard to get invested in the characters with this punchy a beginning. I'd like a little fleshing-out of who these people are.

  5. The above comments have mentioned fleshing out the setting and the character relationships a bit so I'll sound off in agreement with that. However, your dialogue flows nicely enough that I didn't have any trouble following who was speaking.

    One nitpick: when I read the part about "strobes of blue and red," it made me think about police, not EMTs. EMTs round these parts tend to have orange/yellow/white strobes. That could just be a local thing, but something to consider.

    The other interesting thing is that you mention this is Contemporary, but you start in 1983. I can't help but notice that has to have some sort of significance to where this plot goes, so I'd be interested to follow along for a little bit. Love the title by the way!

    Good luck!

  6. I'll jump on the bandwagon here and say that while the action is exciting, I wanted more of a sense of place and character.

    The date at the beginning also has me wondering if this is a flashback or a prologue. If it's a prologue, please make sure that it's short (not much longer than this) and that it's integral to the novel to have it, which it seems this might be.

  7. I thought it was a little too spare and would have liked a bit more about your characters, too. I'd suggest just starting a tad earlier as they're coming out of the club and maybe give us a little chit chat so we see who these characters are.

    But that would mean showing the incident that gets them into this situation, and perhaps you don't want us to know what happened just yet? If that's the case, maybe build around the dialogue you already have with bits of thought or description. It does feel like it needs more.

  8. this is kind of an explosion of action and i do not feel that connection w/the main characters, despite their dire situation. i would say to slow it down and get the characters more fleshed out.