Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #21

TITLE: Unraveled
GENRE: YA Mystery

I grasped for the phone, but it slipped: my hands slick with my sister's blood.


"Damn it to hell," I cried.

I reached for it again. This time more slowly, but my wet hands were shaking and once again, it crashed to the floor. On the third try, I managed to punch in 911.

"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"


I couldn't take my eyes off my sister. "Please, oh my God, please you have to help me." I tried to slow down my breathing so I could talk but I couldn't catch my breath. My lungs were pumping but nothing was happening. "Alright Miss, but I need to know how I can help you. Can you tell me what's going on..um, what's your name?" "It's Autumn. Please you've got to send an ambulance immediately... my sister's been hurt. She's bleeding and I can't find a pulse. I live at 1698 Nolana Road. Please! Hurry!"

"Okay, Autumn, I've dispatched the paramedics but I'm going to ask you some..." she said.

I threw the phone on the carpet. I needed to do something, anything. There was so much blood; I couldn't see how to stop it. My mind was blank, refusing to process what it was seeing.

"C'mon Celeste, don't this. Help's on the way. Please, please, please. God! You have to help her." My heart jack-hammered against my chest making me cough.

9 comments:

Kim H. said...

I was hooked. You drew me right into the action and I felt Autumn's terror for her hurt sister. I don't know what happened, but would read on to find out.

Woods said...

#21,

I like this, and my hands are shaking a bit right now. You’re on track. ;] Good luck!


TITLE: Unraveled [Nice title.]
GENRE: YA Mystery

I grasped for the phone, but it slipped: my hands slick with my sister's blood. [GREAT first line! A bit gross, but hey, this is a mystery novel.]


"Damn it to hell," I cried. [I think a person would be whimpering more than saying a full sentence if that person’s hands were covered with a sibling’s blood.]

I reached for it again. This time more slowly, but my wet hands were shaking and once again, it crashed to the floor. On the third try, I managed to punch in 911.

"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"


I couldn't take my eyes off my sister. "Please, oh my God, please you have to help me." [Cliche line.] I tried to slow down my breathing so I could talk but I couldn't catch my breath. [Good sentence.] My lungs were pumping but nothing was happening. "Alright [Alright is misspelled. It’s spelled “all right.” Two words.] Miss, but I need to know how I can help you. Can you tell me what's going on..um, what's your name?"

"It's Autumn. Please you've got to send an ambulance immediately... my sister's been hurt. [Hurt? How? What wrong with her?] She's bleeding and I can't find a pulse. I live at 1698 Nolana Road. Please! Hurry!"

"Okay, Autumn, I've dispatched the paramedics but I'm going to ask you some..." she said.

I threw the phone on the carpet. I needed to do something, anything. There was so much blood; I couldn't see how to stop it. My mind was blank, refusing to process what it was seeing.

"C'mon[,] Celeste, don't this. Help's on the way. Please, please, please. God! You have to help her." My heart jack-hammered[cliche description] against my chest[,] making me cough.

Carolyn said...

How old is Autumn? Wouldn't she know to apply pressure to a bleeding wound? It's on TV in shows all the time.

Fourth paragraph is confusing because it includes both A's dialogue and the dispatcher's. Suggest you separate them out for clarity and tension.

Suggest you talk to police station contact and ask how dispatchers answer the phone and ask questions. The ones I've heard are much punchier and to the point; no alright Miss, or can or ums or okays. After all, it is an emergency, so take out unnecessary words.

Word missing in "C'mon Celeste, don't this." Don't do this?

Celeste? Wouldn't she have at least a nickname? And wouldn't she talk more to her sister and less to God?

I'd like to know what the injury is, too. That part's too vague IMO.

Is it like a wrist that's bleeding because C slashed it or a shot to the abdomen, or something else?

Danielle La Paglia said...

Great opening line. I was hooked. I want to know more about the sisters and how the sister ended up injured.

shelley said...

Actually, I would switch the "grasped" verb with the "reached" verb below it. I'd shorten that first sentence, because in suspense, and to build tension you want short punchy sentences. "I reached for the phone. My sister's blood was everywhere. The phone slid through my sticky hands." Something along those lines. Just MO. I agree about the 9-1-1 operators. They are very short and to the point. Watch Forensic Files or The Investigators. They always have those phone calls recorded on those programs. Love a good mystery. Keep up the good work.

Durango Writer said...

This is a fantastic opener. Gut-wrenching.

I agree with Shelley about the punchier sentences. Her thoughts/words would show her panic. I think they'd be less complete, especially with the 911 operator.
"911. What's your emergency?"
"My sister...blood. I can't stop the blood."
"What's your address?"
"Help us! You've got to help us."
"I need your address."
"1698 Nolana Road. Please hurry."
"Is the perpertrator in the house?"

You get the picture...less complete, more desperate.

I wonder if you could listen to actual 911 calls?

Good job, though. I"d keep reading.

Becky Mahoney said...

Definitely agree with the others about punchier sentences. One of my favorite writing tips is that narrative voice should mirror your protagonist's physical and emotional state. Someone who's panicking would think in fragments rather than fully-formed sentences. That doesn't mean your narrative has to be really disjointed, but I think it'd suck me in more if it invoked that sort of breathless panic.

Also, it's usually best to break to a new paragraph when someone new speaks - it makes it easier to keep track of. But I'm definitely intrigued, and I want to know what happens. Good work!

Barbara said...

You have interesting stuff here, but I wasn't feeling it. The other commenters have hit the problem on the head. The writing style doen't convey her fear and terror, so her words and thoughts are just words on a page.

Try the shorter sentences and disjointed thoughts as suggested and I think that will make a world a difference.

And perhaps say why she's bleeding or what her injury is. As Carolyn asked, has she been shot, stabbed, had her throat sliced? Tell us.

Secret Agent said...

Seems like all the sentences and dilaogue spent on the 911 call (which went as predictablely as most panicked 911 calls go) could have been spent on material that establishes the unique qualities of the narrator and her particular way of being in the world. Or, alternatively, we could learn the unique qualities of her sister's injury, or the unique qualities of the setting they're in...