Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Disappeared
GENRE: Suspense

I stood in a beam of sunlight near the baggage carousel, suitcase at my feet, backpack balanced on top, and my friend Fay’s red carry-on slung over my shoulder. She had disappeared into the crowd, trying to find out when the rest of the luggage from our flight would arrive.

Where in the world was Fay? I scanned the immense, echoing room, dismissing all the veiled women, all the dark-haired girls flaunting their skintight jeans and rhinestone-studded tee-shirts. Porters in baggy tan cotton suits and billed caps piled carts perilously high with bag after oversized bag. The crowd thinned as other weary travelers collected their belongings and waded toward the exit. No one was traveling as light as we were, yet Fay’s suitcase still hadn't shown up.

My eyes lingered on other obvious tourists, before finally spotting Fay haranguing a uniformed man whose back she had pinned to the wall. Fay was speaking fast, gesturing with her hands. The man raised both his arms at the elbows – palms out, fingers spread – mock surrender. She said something else. He shook his head and pointed down the hall. Fay’s hands dropped to her hips. Her chin jutted out as she watched him walk away.

At that moment, a whirlwind with frizzy braids broadsided me. Her momentum carried her past me, sliding along on the slippery tile floor, and I toppled next to her. She landed with an arm tangled in my suitcase strap, purple jumper askew, plump legs in striped tights waving.


  1. I started to turn the page then realized I couldn't, LOL.

    good job.

    One rather glaring mistake (IMHO) in the third paragraph did smack me upside the head though.

    "My eyes lingered..." makes it sound as if the MC's eyeballs are wobbling along with the tourists. *G*
    Again, good job!

  2. At the beginning, I was all in. I really liked the description of the MC being loaded down with all this luggage. I was really able to picture this. Then when you got to the second para, I thought that was where the title would come into play. I thought Fay was going to be the one who disappeared, leaving her friend in this crowded airport and wondering where she'd gone off to, when all along something nefarious was afoot. The suspense was high--and then she spotted Fay. I kind of thought that she might see Fay getting dragged away or something but be unable to help. I liked the description of Fay talking to the guard, really gave a sense of who she is/that she's a little more extroverted than the MC. Anyway, it just seemed like I was expecting someone to disappear right from the get-go. The title and the suspense genre kinda of led me to believe that, so I might suggest pulling us into the disappearance aspect just a little quicker. But I don't usually read suspense, so really my opinion doesn't mean a whole lot :)
    Good job,
    Ninja Girl

  3. The writing is lovely and clear, but it doesn't say "suspense" to me. The pace is slow, and at this point the reader has no reason to care about Fay's lost luggage. I can picture the scene perfectly, but I don't know anything about the narrator or what's at stake. The writing style seems too literary for this genre. Call it literary fiction instead of suspense, and I might be on board.

    The sentence "Where in the world was Fay?" jarred me. It doesn't flow with the surrounding text. An internal physical reaction (like a tightening of the stomach or a clenching of the jaw) might work better to show the narrator's anxiety than a stated thought.

    I didn't have a problem with "My eyes lingered..." but you might consider changing it to "My gaze lingered..." if some people find the wording odd.

    I think this opening could work if something menacing were thrown in. So far, it's just too mundane to be a hook. (What's in Fay's bag? You don't have to tell the reader, but a hint that it's something critically important would create suspense.)

  4. You write well, and I enjoyed reading it, but I'm not feeling the suspense. A suspense novel needs to grab you right off the first page. Even if this is not the scene where Fay disappears (or if she's even the one who disappears), let your protagonist fear she's lost her here in this crowded foreign airport. Maybe someone bumps into her, and she fears she's about to be mugged. Nothing bad has to actually happen on the first page, but let us fear that it might.

    Good luck!

  5. This is a difficult one because the writer has obvious skill and it shines through in the excerpt. Here is the problem as I see it: there is too much and detailed lingering description and it grinds the story to a halt. This is especially true when you are using an almost universally recognized setting - i.e. a busy airport terminal baggage area - that the reader can instantly picture without help from the writer. So, although the writing is strong it is wasted at this point. I suggest more staccato sentences and shorter paragraphs to begin a suspense and save your skillful description for a point in the story where the setting might be exotic and important and unfamiliar to the reader.

  6. Form rejection. A suspense has to fill me with dread or fear right from the beginning, and I thought you were going there when Fay disappeared. Then, when she reappeared, I felt let down. I don't know what was at stake with her argument.

  7. The writing is good, but it felt like something was missing. Or maybe it's fine, but it didn't grab me.

    The last paragraph was confusing, and I wasn't sure what was going on. Also, you humanized braids.

  8. I thought the writing was good, but the setting and the issues at hand weren't compelling enough to hook me. I'm supposing this sprawled woman (and I had to read that sentence a few times to figure out what was going on) is where things get interesting, so I suggest worrying less about Fay's luggage so you can get more of the tripper onto the page.