Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #3

TITLE: Indigo

Roman wakes at the sound of footsteps made by people who don't want to be heard. At the other end of the orphanage, his twin sister Iris wakes with him. He feels her silent scream tear through his mind and he knows they've taken her.

Roman is on his feet. A dark shape rises up in front of him to block his path. A rough cloth bag is forced down over Roman's head. Calloused hands grab his wrists and pull them behind his back. He struggles against the restraints but is no match against his captor's physical strength. In a panic, his mind reacts in self-defense.

He hears a muffled cry, a sound like branches snapping and then a final thump of something collapsing to the floor. The pressure from his wrists disappears. The last thing he feels is a sharp crack to the back of his head before the world goes even darker.

Roman wakes again. This time he's blindfolded with his hands and feet bound, his mouth gagged. He's lying on his side on a hard floor. The air filtering through his hoodwink smells of exhaust fumes. Someone brushes up against his knees. Using his most reliable sense, he reaches out for Iris. Relief surges through him temporarily as he feels her presence next to him.

Are you all right?

I'm fine.

Well you two might be okay with this, but I'm definitely not.

Roman realizes that there are others with them, others like him and Iris.


  1. I love this, but there's something getting in the way of really feeling it, and I think it's the thrid person/present tense - which is difficult to get right. Have you tried it in first person? Or past tense?

  2. If they don't want to be heard, how are their footsteps loud enough to wake someone up? The last sentence is unnecessary-- if someone besides he and his sister are talking, of course there are others with them. Roman would be able to feel their presence, just like his sisters. The writing's a little too tell-y for my taste, but the idea of hearing thoughts is pretty cool.

    Personally, I think the story should begin when he awakes tied up next to everyone else, with scattered details of what happened before throughout. It might help a bit with the flow of the story.

  3. This could be more than it is. I agree with Keren, in that I'm not feeling this. I'm not there. The problem, I think, is not the tense, but that it is told. It's not happening.

    What if a shriek sounded in Roman's mind, and that woke him? What if he sits up in bed and looks around? What if you showed us how he feels when Iris is taken?

    As is, you're telling us what is happening. We are not seeing Roman do anything. Roman is on his feet. That's you telling us. Instead, show how he got there. Roman scrambles out of bed. We can see that happining because Roman is doing it.

    Another issue is we're not seeing Roman react.

    A dark shape rises up in front of him to block his path. -- And what is Roman thinking/feeling?

    A rough cloth bag is forced down over Roman's head. -- What is Roman doing? Is he just standing there letting it happen?

    Calloused hands grab his wrists and pull them behind his back. He struggles against the restraints but is no match against his captor's physical strength. -- Here, you finally give us a reaction, but you're telling it, and it's vague, (he struggled) so there's no emotion in it. Again, show us what he did. Roman kicked and squirmed but the figure held him tight -- something with detail.

    In a panic, his mind reacts in self-defense. -- Show us what that reaction is. What did his mind do?

    If you shift from telling to showing and give us more details, this will really come alive.

  4. I agree with Keren and the others that this is good material, but the way that it's being told is getting in the way of my ability to connect with Roman and the immediacy of the action.

    3rd Person POV can be distant, but it can also be very close, and without a close POV, it's hard to empathize with the characters.

    A distant/removed POV can also make the action feel less immediate or less dramatic, which is a kiss of death for anything plot-driven or action-oriented. Since you have psychic powers and shadowy kidnappers, I imagine you're in plot-driven land, so I would really suggest re-examining your POV choices in the beginning and find a way to make Ronan's feelings and conflict immediate, so they reach out to the reader.

    The conflict is immediate enough I'd keep reading for a bit, but the distant POV is making it harder to be engaged.

  5. I like the first paragraph, but after reading the comments above, I have to agree with the sense of distance that the rest of the sentences carry.

    There are a lot of short fragments starting your paragraphs, which makes the flow of the story rather staccato. Everything that is happening is really interesting, but I think you can adjust the pacing to work in your favor more.

  6. I can never get into 3rd person present because it usually feels too distant.

    But here, I think the problem is that the story is too telling. This line in particular does NOTHING for the action:

    "In a panic, his mind reacts in self-defense."

    But then he's just listening, and letting himself and his sister be taken. What is he thinking other than panic? If you want to use this tense, you need to treat it more like you're writing first person, and get deeper into Roman's head. If he is to be the major pov character, the reader will want to know what he's thinking, feeling, fearing, planning, plotting, etc.

    The premise is sound, but the delivery needs work. For me, getting the story out comes naturally, but getting the style right takes time. Maybe it's the same for you. I think it's easier to learn style than story-telling. But if you review your work as if you're reading it for the first time, you'll see how emotionally distant the mc is to the reader at this point.

    It's going to take more than just a tense change to fix that, but all the advice you've gotten so far is great. I hope you take it, because I'd like to find out more about Roman and his sister and their abilities.

  7. I think you need to slow down here. The MC woke up, realized his sister was gone, got kidnapped, and found her again all in 250 words.

    Even though there are terrible things happening, I don't feel for this character. He's not having any emotional reactions to any of this, nor is there any voice that sets him apart. For all I know, he's a robot who doesn't care what's happening at all.

    I will say I am intrigued by the title, which is one of my own weak points, so nice work there.

  8. Hi!

    I'm actually quite intrigued by this entry. I like the immediate action and I like the connection between the twins.

    I also think it's OK that there aren't any real internal reactions right away, as long as these come along very soon. This scene is clearly about the action and setting us up for a great story.

    I would be careful of word and sentence choices, "a dark shape rises up in front of him" is a bit awkward.

  9. I really liked this. Right into the action, that definitely keeps me reading cause I want to save his twin sister. Good job!

  10. MH87: I was definitely intrigued by this entry and would read on. The only suggestion that I have would be to vary the sentence rhythms in the first half. The length and diction made them a bit repetitive.

  11. Yesterday, I read through all the entries.
    This is my favorite!
    Great job. I loved...just everything. Very well done!
    Ninja Girl