Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #45

TITLE: Somniloquy
GENRE: YA Suspense

I eyed my pillow like an enemy. It beckoned, white and smooth, the promise of oblivion. And yet I dreaded sleep. The fear that it could happen again, that I might wake up wandering somewhere in the house, or even worse, outside on the grounds, kept me from closing my eyes.

From my perch on the window seat, I turned to stare out into the fading day. Though it was well past eleven, the last threads of light lingered on the gardens and the flat green lawn surrounding Heraldsgreen House. In Memphis, it would have been dark by this time, but June nights in Scotland were so short. A restless wind stirred the towering chestnuts and the leaves murmured with secrets, sending twitches of anxiety into the depths of my stomach.

Five nights of interrupted sleep. My head, heavy and leaden, dropped against the window and I rolled my forehead on the cool glass. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how many books I nodded into or songs I blasted through my headphones, I couldn't stay awake forever. I unfolded the massive wooden shutters across the window, struggling against hinges gummed up by centuries of paint.

The bed was cold, the sheets slightly clammy, when I crawled beneath the covers. The glow from my laptop screen lit my room, which still looked wrong and unfinished. I stretched out, lying rigid with my fists clenched, fighting. But exhaustion won in the end.

The sound of screaming woke me from a deep sleep.

13 comments:

Ninja Girl said...

Your descriptions were great! I like that the story's set in Scotland (that's exotic for this Southern girl), and I liked how hard the narrator was fighting against sleep and was curious about why.
Ninja Girl

susaninvt said...

I would definitely read on. I had to google the title (it means sleep-talking). I assume from the first paragraph that s/he's a sleep-walker, so perhaps sleep-talking plays a bigger role?

The only sentence that seemed "off" was "The bed was cold, the sheets slightly clammy, when I crawled beneath the covers." I'm not sure how I'd change it...

Good job!

Turbo said...

You start with a tight focus and tension from the very beginning, which is great.

Having the note about Scotland vs. Memphis is good, as it says something about the character other than her fear of sleep and what comes with it. I'm invested in the main character because of their fear, but will want to know more about them fairly soon to continue investing emotionally.

Nicole said...

As someone who used to sleepwalk I'm really intrigued by this beginning. You give the reader a good sense of place but for me it was a lot of description about where she was instead of about her, and this slowed the pace for me a little.

Lindsey said...

Yikes! I'd definitely read on! I stumbled over "The bed was cold" sentence too, and I think it's because there isn't a transition between the shutters in the previous paragraph and the bed in the next. Maybe start the sentence with "When I crawled beneath the covers..." Good luck!

fiction writer said...

The fear that I might wake up wandering somewhere in the house, or even worse, outside on the grounds, kept me from closing my eyes.

Don't think you need that it could happen again, so deleted it.

Why leave the computer on if she's trying to sleep?


Maybe show what looks wrong and unfinished. Is it a shell of a house? a bombed out one that's being renovated? something else?


I think this is a better start because there's more happening and less telling.
The sound of screaming woke me from a deep sleep.

Dawn Alexander said...

I liked this and would keep reading to find out who was screaming and why, but some of the language did not read like YA to me. It would have to be a very mature, well-educated character to have this kind of voice (which it may be.) I also didn't immediately know the meaning of the title and would have no clue how to pronounce it.

I agree with the others about changing the Bed was cold line and I think you could eliminate the words "deep sleep" from the last line. If exhaustion won out we would assume the MC would have fallen into a deep sleep.

Escape Artist said...

I remember this from Pitch Quest. Good job and good luck with it all!
I think for me, something of this nature where she's in a real twist, needs more emotional impact. Lines like, 'The fear it could happen again,' puts an emotional distance in the story, rather than some internalization that would bring in the emotion. Just me maybe though! : )

Kay said...

I loved the first paragraph. I agree with the others a transition is needed before the sentence about the cold bed. I understand the laptop being on--I've been known to sleep with mine too.

At this point, I'd keep reading.

Anonymous said...

There is some nice imagery in this opening that draws me in and a nice sense of tension. I like the details - they make the setting more real for me. I would read on.

MIss Aspirant

Secret Agent said...

You have great descriptions here--good job.

I would like more "showing" and less "telling" though.

And be careful of lines that sound forced, like "sending twitches of anxiety into the depths of my stomach."

Vincent Kale said...

I like that fact that you opened with your MC dreading sleep rather than waking up from already being asleep, which is seen quite a bit (and I'm guilty of it myself!).

Your writing is nice and descriptive, though I found the following sentence just a shade too purple for me:
A restless wind stirred the towering chestnuts and the leaves murmured with secrets, sending twitches of anxiety into the depths of my stomach.

I like the title, though I fear it may turn some people off. It reminded me of Jonathan Barnes' "The Somnambulist" and I'm curious to see where you go with it. Good luck!

Barbara said...

I thought the description was done nicely, but that it is all told and kind of lifeless because it's just what happened. We're not getting her reaction to it all. There's no emotion here.

If you're going to start with her struggle to stay awake, perhaps add in a bit about how this affects her. What's her emotional state? Let us feel her fear if she's scared to sleep. Let us feel her anxiety about not sleeping. SHow us her exhaustion. Adding her emotions could give this a bit more oomph.