Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #39

TITLE: Cracked
GENRE: Young Adult Urban Fantasy

There are some people you know you ought not make angry because it isn't right, like your mum--if she's the nice sort.

There are other people you know you ought not make angry because they have the authority to punish you. Police officers, politicians, insane asylum wardens, your mum--if she's the bad sort.

But there are some people you ought not make angry that you don't know about, because no one ever survived to warn you.

I'm the third kind.

I eat souls. The packaging can be tricky, but fortunately I am blessed with special skills to pry my meals from their pesky shells. My teeth rip skin, my jaws snap bones. I am fast, lightning-fast, snuff--oh-was-that-your-life?--fast. I try to stick to bad souls, in the memory of my own mom (the nice sort). There were other reasons, reasons I used to understand, but they are reasons for a good person. I am not that.

That might be why I feel so at home here.

Small rooms, thick walls. Hushed whispers and ear-grating wails. A symphony of misery set to the beat of beatings. An insane asylum, prison of the cracked and grey.

Cracked windows, cracked walls, cracked minds. Don't make them angry or there will be cracked skulls!

Grey stone walls, grey stone floors. Once-white nightgowns now grey. The skin of the inmates. Grey. The metal-framed bed. The bedding. Grey, grey, grey. The bars on the window... Black. Imagery ruined. Correction--Prison of the cracked, grey and black.

17 comments:

Lanette said...

I'm hooked! Where's the rest? This is a dark story that breaks all the rules -- in a good way. The character is evil and knows he's evil. You have fragments and repititive words, but all of the broken rules make your story reach out and grab the reader. I'm looking forward to seeing it published some day.

Jessica May Lin said...

WOW, this is awesome! The first 4 paragraphs really drew me in. Can't find any complains here. I would totally read on.

Landra said...

I like this opening. Good visuals, and just enough info to keep me wanting more. A little teaser taste to wet the appetite.
But the last two paragraphs about the cracked and grey did start to lose me again. I get the message, but you may not need so much to make the point. IMO
ThnakS!

Danielle La Paglia said...

This didn't work for me. I love stories from the bad guy's POV, but the opening read like the narrator was going to be the victim then I had to flip the switch. Also, the repetiion was too much for me. A little goes a long way and can be very effective, but that last paragraph was hard to get through.

Writer Tessa said...

Great voice! Loved the description and your word choice is spot on.

I actually liked the repetition :)

Shilpa said...

Loved it. It is definitely dark and the chosen POV is right on. Usually it is the victim's POV which I guess is common now. I am already anticipating what might happen later. And the last two paragraphs actually gave a good visual. Works for me.

Tori Schindler said...

The wording 'ought not make angry' lost me at the beginning. It felt awkward. The fragmented, sentences were fine but did get a little too repetitive toward the end. Otherwise I like stories from the antagonist’s POV so that appealed to me and I liked the way you started by categorizing the types of people not to make angry.

Ann Bedichek Braden said...

I loved this!

In particular, I loved the fact that the reader is thinking about things from the victim's pov and then it's turned on it's head. Awesome.

I would cut: "I eat souls." There's something funny about the cadence of it that doesn't work there, in my opinion. I think it would be stronger to start right in with the sentence after that and work the detail of the soul eating into that one.

And I really liked the repetition - it had such a lyrical quality about it. However, I personally was pulled out of the story by the bit about the black bars. I'm picturing it with bars even without you telling me they're there. I'd just leave the black bars off.

I'm really hoping that I can find the next few pages on WriteOnCon. I'd love to see where you go with this!

CSwift said...

Hi everyone, Thank you so much for your feeback, I appreciate the tips!

Ann--I did post on WriteOnCon if you would like to read (http://writeoncon.com/forum/showthread.php?7065-YA-Urban-Fantasy-CRACKED) The query's there too if you want to know what on earth is going on :).

Tori--I changed the "ought not" in my WriteonCon version, so hopefully it's better. Thanks!

Lanette--The main character is actually a girl, I didn't get to that part in my 250 word submission :).

Again, thank you all so much for commenting!

Sarah Pearson said...

I liked this. It's different. I think the repetition worked well.

Debra Anastasia said...

I think you know your character very well and it shows. Very, very nice.

Mary said...

You have me hooked - I love creep stories. My only beef is in the first few lines. You used ~ ought not ~ twice and each time it jarred me and I had to reread. I think this can flow better.

There are some people you know you ought not make angry because it isn't right, like your mum--if she's the nice sort.

Perhaps try - There are some people you should never make angry...

Woods said...

#39,

The voice is great!

Barbara said...

I thought this was great and I liked the 'ought not.' I thought it gave it some distinctiveness, I did get a sense that the MC was male, and the last parg did start to get repetitive, but I liked it enough to copy down the url of writeoncon so I can read more.

Best of luck with it!

T.D. McFrost said...

You have a lovely lyrical style--it's almost poetic in a (wait for it...) "cracked" sort of way. ^_^

Well done!

Tricia said...

The first 2 paras had me hooked. Since you mentioned "mum, the nice sort" in para 1 then "mum, the bad sort" in para 2, I had a different story in mind than what followed.

The whole "mum" twice with the "bad sort" mentioned last was creepy, in a good way.

Then the story changed into something else, unexpected, and not in a good way. (only because I was prepped for the one and not the other. The other is a hook in its own right.)

I would delete the 2nd mum mention, or make it clear why "mum" (especially the bad sort) is mentioned right off.

Secret Agent said...

Hey, I hear my original comments on this were lost to the ether. Troubling! Who to blame? Google. But we have so many reasons to like Google... Anyway... I can't remember my exact original phrasing, but I believe it went something like this: Creepy! And with just one word, "mum," you've signaled class, region, stance of narrator, moral leaning of narrator (though, he may end up more complicated than first reference indicates...which isn't a bad thing...) -- and oh how I love the economy of that. Some might trip over the syntax of your first sentences, but in this case, tripping is the goal and introduces a dialect, a way of speaking, so we (should) forgive it and be intrigued by it. I am. I'm also intrigued by the locale of this story -- an asylum, and the mix of pain and pleasure (and pleasure derived from pain) in these lines. Also, great use of the short paragraph for exclamatory purposes (without stooping to the exclamation point...oh, except for that one). This could all tip into purple prose in the pages to come, but the author seems to be holding that potential thunderstorm in check, and I'd very much like to see what happens here...