Friday, November 30, 2012

(3) Science Fiction: Jo

GENRE: Science Fiction

Jo Hall is dead. Sort of. She’s a partially-embalmed walking-dead-monster, mutilated by an anarchist organization with a penchant for accidental murder. When her parents and best friend become the next targets, Jo must sacrifice herself to save their lives.

I’m dead.


I thought you should know that right away, because this story doesn’t end well. At least not for me. I know that now. So whatever you do, don’t fall in love with me. I’ve hurt the ones I love, the ones who love me, and for that I’ll never forgive myself.

I don’t have much longer now, though. So at least I won’t be filled with self-loathing forever.

I’m sitting in my dorm room. My mother’s asleep on the bed, snoring lightly, a sound that reminds me of my childhood. Sometimes, when I was very small, we’d have sleepovers in my bedroom, pretending we were girlfriends instead of mother and daughter. We’d paint our nails and eat ice cream and giggle for hours. Sometimes even my father would come in and laugh with us.

My mother would sleep on the bottom bunk, and I’d sleep on top -- and she’d snore like she’s snoring right now. Lightly, so lightly. I loved falling asleep to that sound.

Right now, I wouldn’t mind falling asleep while listening to her snore. But I’m not quite ready.

Not yet.

Because if I fall asleep now, I won’t wake up. I know this because…well, it’s a long story. But it’s a story I need to tell, and I’m running short on time with which to tell it.

First, and most important, I’m not almost-dead by choice. I didn’t choose to be this way. I didn’t choose to become a monster.


  1. The logline felt a little too bogged down for me (for example, I don't think I necessarily need to know the "partially-embalmed" part because I'll find that out as I read, and I think just saying walking-dead-monster gives enough information) but I absolutely LOVE your voice. You've managed to hook me with just the first two sentences, and from there I get a really good grasp of who Jo is and why I should care about her. Wish there was more so I could keep reading!

  2. I agree, the voice here is fantastic. I also like how quickly her relationship with her parents is set up, without being super heavy with exposition.

    I would definitely like to read more. Good luck!

  3. Your opening lines really hooked me! I was a bit surprised to see her sitting on the bed with her mom - I was imagining that she was in a lab somewhere or something. I would definitely read on!

  4. It’s an intriguing log line, though I’m having trouble with “mutilated” and “accidental murder” going together. But the stakes are clear, and I like that.

    The writing has a nice voice, and I’m curious to find out what happened to Jo to make her “almost dead.” I almost feel like the author is putting off the beginning, though. I can’t help but think we can skip from “I’m dead. Almost.” to “First, and most important…” and get to everything else after we’re shown how she became a monster. I’m also not a fan of being told how I should feel (paragraph 3); let me make up my own mind, form my own attachments, and be heartbroken if I come to like the character. That makes the read more emotional; as it is, we’re given a reason to not even bother reading the story.

  5. Loved the voice here. I would read on. :)

  6. I loved the logline. Very snappy and it captured the voice perfectly.

    Great opening. The first two sentences hooks the reader well, and the rest of the opening does not disappoint. I'm very much intrigued how this will be a SF story rather than 'another vampire story'. On the other hand, for a reader not checking the genre, blurb or logline first, perhaps you can give an inkling why this is not paranormal by dropping some hints in the first 200 words.

    I'd read on, for sure.

    If you have time to return a critique, I'm also doing a SF story in post #19 Everett Quartet.

    Good luck!

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  8. I found the writing in this to be really engaging. The voice sucked me in immediately. I liked seeing the relationship the MC has with her mother in the very beginning because it really gives us reason to care about her mother's life being in danger. I would definitely keep reading!

  9. Both the voice and the opening lines drew me in. I'd read on. However, I agree with Peter on jumping from the first three paragraphs to the "First, and most important paragraph". The middle section doesn't feel like it moves the story forward. Other than that, great job!

  10. Fantastic voice here--loud and clear!

    I do agree with some of the other comments that the middle part doesn't seem to push the story forward, and maybe could be pulled in later in the writing. Also, and this is only because this is a short excerpt, I am left wondering why her mother's sleeping in her dorm room. There's probably a reasonable explanation coming soon, but from a reader's perspective it's hard to have a question like that early on.

    Also, the line, "So at least I won’t be filled with self-loathing forever," didn't ring true to the rest of the phenomenal voice. I don't know many people who would think something phrased quite that way, but instead something more along the lines of, "At least I won't hate myself forever."

    That said, I would definitely keep reading!

  11. I love the voice! That said, I feel like the opening is very passive. There's no action. I'd like to see something happening in the story, other than she's listening to her mother snoring, while she's having these thoughts. If her mother is in danger, then I'd like a bigger hint at that.

    I would keep reading.