Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Secret Agent #17

TITLE: Madness
GENRE: Thriller

I sat on white sheets, thirteen paces from the soundproof door of the room, watching the hallway light slice through the safety glass of the observation window. It pierced the darkness and spilled over the dresser before it disintegrated through the bars on the other window. Escape, escape to David pounded through my head. I tried to clear my mind by focusing on the glinting metal on the floor, the tip of a nail holding the bed to cracked linoleum. I had to stay focused.

My plan was in motion. It couldn’t be stopped. Darling, my roommate and my lifeline, was downstairs, in position. I would join her in a matter of minutes. She was helping me break out of our colorless cage. I would return for her. My moment was coming. I waited as the clock dragged itself through Time.

Plans for my escape started the day they wheeled me into that mental institution, Beaubois. I was twenty-two years old and fresh out of Harvard. The world was waiting for me. Sure, I’d cut my wrists but it wasn’t suicide. I had my reasons. David was out of my life and I was empty. Alone and numb, I wanted to feel something, anything, as I dragged the razor across my skin. I was depressed, but I didn’t need hospitalization. Why would I want to die so young?

“Tick, tock. I’m not done, yet.” I whispered into the Beaubois dark.

I patted the pocket of my patient uniform


  1. I really like this, but I think there's a little too much telling in the third paragraph.

    I think having the MC in a mental institution is a great place to start, though.

    I would definitely read on; the last line creates quite a lot of intrigue for me.

  2. Slightly over written as with the last sentence in the second paragraph. Considering where she's at, I think the hint at melodrama works. My main problem with this isn't the writing or the setting, both are fine; it's that the MC cut herself over losing a guy. I like for my protags to be stronger than that.

  3. oh my. i'm intrigued and want to know why this woman is so far gone...wanting to escape the institution for a guy who's break up lead her there (i'm assuming that's the case of course). yikes (in a good way).

  4. There's a lot of information here. I would space this out a bit more so as to not overwhelm the reader. Interesting premise. Personally, I'd start the novel with the line- "Plans for my escape started..."
    Waaay punchier.

  5. Lot's of great tension here. The casualness of the description of the suicide attempt is chilling.

  6. The line, "Tick, tock. I'm not done yet," is so marvelously creepy that I think you should use it for your opening line, too. And then one or two more times.

    Ex: "My plan was in motion. I couldn't be stopped. Tick, tock."


    I waited as the clock dragged itself through time. Tick, tock."


    "I had my reasons. Tick, tock."

    I think this would increase the intensity and make the reader wonder if the MC was really crazy or not. It wouldn't take much; just a few here and there.

  7. The first two paragraphs here are great. Your descriptions are very evocative, with a sense of the specific that makes this come alive. The first sentence in particular really grabbed me and pulled me in, making me want to know more.

    I would suggest cutting the third paragraph and moving straight into the action, so as not to break the pacing and tension.


  8. Spooky idea...

    but, first sentence is a little long. Maybe make it into two. And what does the it in the second sentence refer to? I had to go back to find out, so maybe make that clearer and condense the description a bit?

    What does she have to stay focused on? Maybe a bit of action or dialogue here to break up the description and back story?

    Is Beaubois the name of the institution or someone she's talking to in her head? Maybe clarify. If it's the institution, doesn't ring true as a psychiatric facility name.

    The paragraph about cutting herself implies she's still not thinking clearly or is denial.

    “Tick, tock. I’m not done, yet.” I whispered into the Beaubois dark.

    Okay, so Beaubois is the name of the place...maybe the name would work if she were in France.

    Patients don't wear uniforms. Maybe she pats the pocket of her bathrobe?

    You have a good idea though, and I'd read on...

  9. Intriguing premise, confusing presentation. Perhaps pacing the reveal of information might coax me into the story, instead of throwing it all my way in one fell swoop at the start.
    I always find the use of the first person an interesting choice, esp. with a thriller, could be dangerous, but could be more powerful. I hope it works, because it sounds like a great story. Good luck!

  10. A bold opening line will really help this. You have a lot to work with here, and starting with a wordy location description isn't setting the right tone. Something like this:
    "Plans for my escape started the day they wheeled me into that mental institution" or even a combo of that and the sentence that follows:
    "I was twenty-two years old and fresh out of Harvard when they wheeled me into that mental institution. Ever since that day, I planned for my escape."

    Then describing in detail the character's surroundings makes sense. He/she has studied the area for a breakout.

    Just a suggestion. good luck!

  11. There's a lot to like here! I especially liked the first paragraph and the last 2 lines. I may be WAY off but a couple of details gave me pause. If the room is soundproofed, I would assume the patient is violent and therefore in a single room. I wonder if patients have uniforms and if they have pockets to hold hidden things. I don't know the answers to either of these issues, so I'm probably off, but it just threw me off a bit. Nice phrasings throughout. Good luck!

  12. This is a very compelling and intriguing set up. Just how crazy is she? That stated, I feel this needs some tweaks. The second paragraph is awkward and needs to be reworked. There is a bit of info dumping going on in the third, but I find it's helpful because it grounds me to her--I know she's smart and how she got there.

    Others mentioned the patient uniform--I just don't know the protocol of various mental hospitals to comment but make sure you've done your research.

    All in all, you have a terrific premise and a dynamic character. Nice job!