Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Secret Agent #45

TITLE: Graceful Death
GENRE: YA Paranormal

Not in the damn hallway. Anywhere but here.

A surge of dizziness claws its way over me. I sway on my feet, watching the Santa Cruz High School crowd thin.

“Whoa.” A chick I recognize from Geometry stops walking toward her next class. She comes one, two, three steps closer. In my warped vision the closer she comes, the more her body jerks and jumps. I blink in the hopes she’ll even out. Her lipstick wavers from orange to purple.

“Doing okay there, Grace?” The guy beside her clasping her fingers leans in. His eyes remind me of a toad’s, too far apart. But then again, the right side of his face is melting, so who am I to judge?

I whip up enough BS to shoo them away before things get worse, though I have no clue what I’ve said. Eventually they turn the corner. The hallway quiets in its empty state. I suck in air like a drowning person who’s just reached the surface. It doesn’t help. I can’t freaking breathe.

The instant my knees hit the ground I know. My insomnia is killing me from the inside out. I struggle to pick myself up, but the sweat on my palms turns cold, tacking my hand to the faded mauve linoleum.

The faint odor of disinfectant and dirty sneakers wafts up, stinging my nostrils.

My pulse thrums erratically in my ears. White film spots my vision.

I can’t control anything anymore. Sleep is such a cruel and distant idea by now.


  1. I've seen this before. I remember liking it. I think this is suffering from too much revision. You only need one paragraph to establish that she isn't well. I liked it better the way it was. It seems like the earlier version introduced the guy in the magical hoodie on the first page. That was cool.

  2. Strong voice, great opening. Like the tie of the title to MC's name. Love the imagery of the people distorting; makes me think of funhouse mirros. "The guy beside her clasping her fingers leans in" is a little awkward with the double repetition "her" so close together, but other than that, the prose flows well. I'm intrigued. I'd definately read more.

  3. I really like the line, "My insomnia is killing me from the inside out."
    You've introduced the paranormal element right from the get go, whatever it is. That in itself is a great hook.
    But at a recent conference an agent and an editor told me that it's important to establish normal first before introducing the "para" element. I'm sure this can vary from agent to editor, etc...
    I've written my YA paranormal both ways, normal in the beginning, and then paranormal in the beginning. I guess there really isn't a right or a wrong way and I'm just blabbering at this point.

    Intriguing premise. I'd keep reading. =)

  4. I like this if his insomnia is making him delirious and everything and everyone looks strange to him. If it's literal and the lipstick is actually changing color, I'm less interested, but I'd keep reading to find out.

  5. I love this - the voice, the eerily accurate description of how insomia can affect you, its all good :) What I would change is the number of modifiers you have. For instance, "The guy beside her clasping her fingers leans in." If he's holding her hand, we know he's beside her, so you can drop one of those. Great job!

  6. Just here to give my support. I've read this entire MS. It has a great voice throughout and lots of little surprises. Can't wait to see it published.

  7. I always go back and forth on paranormal, but I'm really curious to see what paranormal element your story focuses on.

    I love the "My insomnia is killing me from the inside out" line, but the last line throws me off. ("Sleep is such a cruel and distant idea by now.") I like all of your descriptions about her feeling sick, but the last line makes it sound like she *wants* to sleep, but she's in the middle of the hallway so clearly she's trying to stay awake.

  8. You describe the dizziness so well but, in my opinion, it goes on too long. Get her down on the floor faster so we can move on and find out what the story is about.

    I also like how I know it is paranormal but insomnia can really do this to you, so it feels realistic.