Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #39

TITLE: Silence
GENRE: YA Fiction: Paranormal

The soft pitter-patter of drops against the glass panes was the only sound in the quiet library, though Sage heard more.

Swallowing hard, she returned her attention to the sketchpad in her lap, pushing away the raspy whispers in her ears. She stared down at the half finished face of a Victorian woman, her stomach twisting. A small veil hung from the miniature hat on the portrait's head, obscuring one dark and piercing eye. A smirk played softly on her graphite lips as Sage glided her pencil across the page. She added a single stray hair floating in front of the figure's face, the rest pulled back into a tightly kept bun.

Maria. The name echoed around her throbbing head as Sage stared at the sheet. She dreaded finishing the drawing. But she had to if she wanted the pounding fists against the inside of her skull to disappear. She winced as Maria hit her again, sending a flash of white across her vision. Chills raced down her spine as Sage set her pencil back to the page. What story would Maria have to tell?

Setting her ebony pencil down, Sage stared at the sheet and waited. Fear coiled in her stomach as her eyes scanned the sketch again. Every inch of the portrait was smudged and shaded to a haunting perfection. Ice flowed through her as she watched, not daring to breathe until Maria appeared. The soul's voice hit before the portrait sprang to life before her.


  1. I love the concept. That this girl Sage has souls (I'm assuming from the past?) badgering her into drawing their portraits, so they can then speak to her? That's just great! The first sentence, though, I think could be stronger. My favorite part was where you described the drawing and that one piercing eye, so maybe you could start with something like that? The eye piercing her, the woman's smirk? That part about being drawn to "haunting perfection" rocked! I'd read more :)
    Ninja Girl

  2. I really like this idea. I'd read on to see what happened next. It has a nice eerie quality to it.

  3. MH87: Really great idea. This is intriguing. The description of physicality gets a bit much though. I would pull that back a bit in favour of moving the action forward. Great stuff!

  4. This is not my genre but I am hooked! Great job setting the creepy tone and I love the idea of spirits compelling the MC to draw their portraits. I agree that the first sentence could be the second paragraph, re-worked. Excellent hook.

  5. Liking the creepy premise. The writing is solid; it just needs a bit of polishing. I noticed you have four sentences with the same construction: "as Sage glided..." "as Sage stared..." "as Maria hit..." "as her eyes scanned..." It's not a big deal, but you could try to mix it up a little, to avoid a feeling of repetition. In the same vein, most of the sentences are pretty long. If you alternate between long and shorter sentence, it tends to make it more readable.

  6. Now THAT is pretty cool! I like the premise you've set up here and the fact that it seems like more of a curse than anything. I'm definitely interested to read more.

    I agree with Ninja Girl that the opening is a little weak. You might have more of an impact if you start with the dynamic characteristics of the portrait. I'm also ok with all the physical details of the picture since that's what Sage is concentrating on while trying to keep calm. Great work and good luck!

  7. I agree, this is a great concept and I love the dark and creepy tone you're using.

    But I also agree that this needs tightening up a bit. Cut down on the "dreaded"s and the "Ice flowed through her"s. We get that this is a burden without it being explicitly stated through the tone.

    I would read more, though.

  8. I thought you could start with - Sage stared down at the half finsihed face . . . The rain's not adding anything, and Marie's voice, when it comes, will be a surprise.

    And perhaps tone down the writing a bit. It feels almost like I have to wade through it all to find the good stuff. And the good stuf is there. Clearing up the clutter will help it stand out.

    You could also replace some of the Sage's with she, since she's the only one there.

  9. I agree with Barbara above. If you could tighten up the writing, this would be an excellent beginning.

    Maybe start with: The rain against the windows was the only sound in the library, though Sage heard more. Swallowing hard, she returned her attention to the half finished face of a Victorian woman on her sketchpad.

  10. I really liked this submission. The mood of the writing is so dark and scary. I was waiting, perhaps a little nervously, for Maria to show up. Great suspense and build-up! If the book were in front of me, I'd be buying it!

    For what it's worth, I liked the first sentence. It sets up the mood/atmosphere nicely. And it put me in the MC's head and I otherwise feel like there's so much focus on Maria that we NEED to be firmly planted in the MC's head from the onset.