Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #5

GENRE: Adult Literary

Wayberry, Oklahoma, December 1956

    The girl tore through the dark woods to save her baby.

    Ignoring her bleeding feet, she raced until she slipped on loose leaves and crashed headlong into a shrub, dropping the newborn. Stunned, she lay still in the biting cold and heard her father yelling and crashing through the brush behind her. She snatched up the wailing baby and pressed leaves against its mouth.

    And she raced again, the undergrowth tearing at her bare legs. She broke through onto the road leading to the highway. Hesitated, turned, and threw herself across the open area and into the brush. She found herself in thick, thorny blackberry bushes. Came out onto a narrow path she knew would take her around to her hiding place in the burnt-out hollow of an oak tree.

    Weakening now, she sucked in air with a loud, rasping noise. Muscles aching, legs wobbling. She heard her father fighting through the blackberry bushes and flung herself forward with her remaining strength.

    She reached the oak and scrambled inside. Pulled up her T-shirt, pressed her baby’s mouth, encrusted with leaves and dirt, to her nipple, and tried to quiet her own breathing. Minutes later, her heart still pounding, she heard the crunching sound of footsteps approach, then stop.

    “Come on out, I know you’re in there.” His voice softened. “I’ve never harmed you.”

    “You’ll hurt my baby.” She peered through tangled branches into the starry sky. Then blackness crossed like a curtain.


  1. I think this seems interesting but this sentence: "The girl tore through the dark woods to save her baby." needs to be moved to somewhere after " Ignoring her bleeding feet"

    Perhaps "Ignoring her bleeding feet, the girl tore through the woods to save her baby."

    It was a little off putting to start your story in such a matter-of-fact way.

    I liked it though. The suspense was good.
    I did read a post not long ago about agents not liking sentences that drop the subject, as you do here:
    "Came out onto a narrow path she knew would take her around to her hiding place in the burnt-out hollow of an oak tree."
    Just a heads up.

  2. I agree with CB, some of the sentence structure threw me off a little, but nice tension in the situation.

  3. I'd read more. You have me wondering why she thinks her father will hurt the baby, and you've created some nice tension and suspense.

    It does seem a bit overwritten, though, and it could be cleaner. Maybe consider a revision or two to smooth out the wrting.

  4. Great suspense here and I would keep reading. Some of the sentences could be cleaned up a bit. I agree with rewording the first one to make it more dramatic. Also, the part about the baby's mouth being covered with leaves is repetitive. If you cut a few things here and there you can include more action.

  5. I liked the suspense you build. I agree with the other to tighten up the writing, but I would read more to find out why she thinks her father would harm her baby. Nice job.

  6. I thought the writing was solid, and I read it very quickly. I didn't stumble on any phrase or description. The image of this poor lady/young woman running for her child's safety and then trying to breast feed to quiet her baby, probably while her chest is still heaving, is jarring—in a good way for the reader, in my opinion.

    I'm not sure where this is headed, but I would keep reading. The writing, I felt, was very strong and handled by someone with natural skill for tension.

  7. Great description...

    How does she know it's her father? Can she see him? Hear him calling to her?

    Just some ideas...

  8. I think there's good suspense in here. The one thing that tripped me up was the mother putting leaves to her baby's mouth?? Unless you are trying to say that she *doesn't* care about her baby... I just can't see many mothers who do care, sticking dirty leaves in an infant's mouth. Also, it would probably make a baby scream even more. Holding the baby close to her chest, into her clothes/hair, would probably both muffle the sound and comfort the baby--or if she wants to plug the baby's mouth, even a finger to suck on would do it, depending on how young it is.

  9. "Ignoring her bleeding feet, the girl raced..." THIS is where your story starts. The first line is too obvious and is telling vs. showing. Also, does she actually speak to her father in the end? That seemed strange since she's working so hard to get away from him/hide. Maybe try it as a thought (italics), showing she's worried he'll hurt the baby. Other than those minor points it is VERY compelling!

  10. The only sentence I really stumbled over was on the road. "Hesitated, turned, and threw herself across.." There's no subject here. Yes, I know we are talking about her, and you were probably trying to get rid of the "she" repetition, but the sentence doesn't feel right without a subject, it feels broken.

    Instead: "For a moment, she hesitated..." Find some way to include her in there, however you want to do it.

  11. Nice job coming up with an opening with a lot of tension. I think you should get rid of your first sentence, "The girl tore through the dark woods to save her baby." It is too telly. The aim, in my opinion, is to have readers understand this without "telling" them. I also agree that editing will also help shore this up quite a bit. Lines like this snapped me out of the narrative: "Hesitated, turned, and threw herself across the open area and into the brush."

  12. This has a nice atmosphere to it, and I like how the natural environment peeks its way into the narration bit by bit (though "blackberry bushes" two paragraphs in a row was distracting)...I'm not sure it needs to be this long (maybe the first four paragraphs only need to be three?), and "I've never harmed you," is a bit tinny to the ear, but you're still off to a good start...