Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Secret Agent #16

TITLE: The Dreamers
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Wilhelmina Grant was still waiting for a sign. Not some comet or solar eclipse, just an everyday omen to point her in the right direction. It was long overdue. Had she missed it? The dreams that drew Willa to San Francisco years ago had faded into fog. Meanwhile, her days rolled out like a bolt of beige flannel—practical, predictable and drowsy. She tried taking scissors to the blandness, but could never bring herself to cut.

The costume shop where Willa worked sat on the end of the pier in an old cement structure that had once been a morgue. The building had served many purposes since then, but there was still something odd about the place. In spite of its history, ghosts were not the problem. In fact, it was the opposite. Instead of holding on to consciousness, the building helped it drift away.

At first, Willa enjoyed drifting. It was a shortcut to creativity: floating mind above body, like olive oil on vinegar. But lately it was harder to get the two mixed again. More and more her thoughts preferred to float. And after years of holding on in this slippery spot, she was starting to lose her grip.

“Ow!” The needle jabbed deep, leaving a glistening red bead on the pad of her thumb. It was the second strange occurrence of the morning. First the button dropped right off her leather jacket and now this. She hadn’t pricked her thumb in years—years and years.


  1. I love "her days rolled out like a bolt of beige flannel." This is great stuff, and puts me right into the character's state of mind.

    I'm not entirely sure about the next sentence, "She tried taking scissors.." as it feels like this is pushing the metaphor a bit too far, but that's just my initial take.

    I think the "years and years" is unnecessary at the end, but I'd keep reading. I want to know what Willa is waiting for, and what dreams drew her to SF.

  2. Yeah. I too loved the line, "her days rolled out like a bolt of beige flannel—practical, predictable and drowsy." I'm actually a little jealous. :)

    I like how the last paragraph appears to answer the first paragraph -- jabbing herself with the needle seems like a sign, just not a good one. Good job!

  3. Enjoyed this, especially the 2nd paragraph about the building-- something eerie and lovely about the idea of a place having human-like abilities.

  4. Very interesting opening!!

    I loved your description of her life in particular. It drew me in and I could identify with her in a way.

    I would suggest cutting the "years and years" at the end; it didn't add anything and I thought a more natural end was "she hadn't pricked her thumb in years."

  5. I like how her pricking her thumb brings us back around to the "sign" Willa has been waiting for. Is this it?

  6. I liked this. It's moody, gives a good sense of the sameness of days, but also foreshadows more interesting things to come."With the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes."

  7. this is great and i want to read more. i love the beige flannel days, but didn't really get the scissors. and not sure how the building holds onto consciousness but love the description of everything else.

  8. Some nice imagery here. Not sure what you mean by cutting her days at the end of the first paragraph.

    The word 'structure' threw me out, although I understand why you wouldn't want to use building twice. Maybe switch building to the first sure and structure to the second. Because a building is always a structure but a structure isn't always a building, so you need the one providing the definition first.

    The line 'more and more her thoughts preferred to float' seems fragment like, I wanted a bit more meat there, something else.

    Watch for over use of repeated words, you have 'more and more' and 'years and years'. You do have years a lot in the last two paragraphs. If I might suggest? Not sure if it fits your voice and the rest of the story, but instead of years--years and years, you might use the term 'forever and a day'.

  9. Good job evoking mood right away, and yet you didn't overdo it. Just enough to suck me in and give me a feel for the story, for her life. And good foreshadowing at the end. I'd read on.

  10. Not a bad piece, but I think the similes might be a tad overdone. I like the idea of a building being an ex-morgue - brings all sorts of spooky possibilities to mind.

    I also agree that the years and years is unneccesary - unless you are implying she is a ghost and hasn't realised it.

  11. I like this. Especially the first two paragraphs. I didn't love the "oil and vinegar", as it seemed a little out of place with the rest of the prose. I guess I also didn't understand her holding on in the slippery spot - I wonder if she is going mad or something.

    I'd keep reading to see where this is going!

  12. I love the line about her days rolling out like fabric bolts, and then the transition to her costume shop. Most of that first paragraph is great, but you can lose the "Had she missed it?" which doesn't add anything new. You could also take out "It was long overdue" since the line that follows mentions dreams fading into fog.

    I would keep reading, I like your voice and the set up.

  13. The scissors line - meaning she wanted to try suicide?

    The fact that she is working in an old morgue is fantastic! I love the setting. Creepy.

    I may be way off base - but don't seamstresses often prick their fingers? Use thimbles? And loosing a button is not so strange. Can you give just a tad more on why it is strange? I get that the blood/ bleeding is important. Maybe just don't point to it as strange?

  14. Love the tone and mood you've created - some very nice phrasings as well. Nice. Good luck!

  15. Ooo- we got signs! No burning bushes, but I always say I'd be happy with a post-it note.

    Nice descriptions and good job on setting the mood. I want to know where Willa's signs are leading her!

  16. There are some beautiful sentences here, but I feel that this isn't nailed down. I found the use of similes to be a bit overwhelming but others seem to like it. I wasn't a fan of the days rolled like a bolt of beige flannel, until I realized she worked in a costume shop. Then, that analogy worked for me.

    Overall, though, I'm trying to pin down what's going on. There are some wonderfully creepy elements (the morgue is a nice touch) but I'm trying to figure out how they hang together. Also, the "drifting" and "floating" is a bit confusing--is her mind wandering? What's with the olive oil and vinegar, did I miss somethign? That stated, there's a great sense of mood here and keeps the material interesting.