Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #16

GENRE: Dark YA Contemporary

When you take them one at a time, twenty-five pills feel like nothing at all.

Count them up slow. Let them slide their way down. Do it all nice and gentle.

After all, it’s just one more repetitive motion. Fits right in with the ones we practice every day (speaking, smiling, breathing). And soon you’ll find the room’s starting to fade, and you’ll be happier about it than you’ve been about anything in a long time.

Finally, some peace.

I locked myself in. Dad’s at work, and Olivia shouldn’t be back until four. No more failures. This time is for real.

My mind’s starting to drift and float when my body convulses, and then I’m trapped back inside myself and I want out but –

A cry yanks itself from my throat. I jerk off the bed. Pain, red-hot, grinding and unavoidable. Like someone’s stabbing me through the stomach with an iron stake. I smack the floor skull-first, but it’s nothing compared to the agony knotting itself up through my chest. More noises leak from my mouth.

I almost want to laugh. There’s a sort of relief in this kind of hurt and ah, let me die, just let it end – Jesus Christ, is that really too much to ask?

Bile coils up in my throat. I swallow it back. I swallow everything. Just a few more minutes.

The world spins in and collapses.


  1. Psychologically, most people who count their pills when committing suicide don't really want to die. They're only looking for attention. There are a few exceptions, like OCD or doing the research to find out how many pills it takes to finish the job, so I suggest that the exception either needs to be shown or you don't have the MC counting them. Other than that, the writing is very good. I would look forward to reading more to find out how it all plays out and what drove the MC to that point.

  2. Lanette: it's not clear yet that the narrator does truly want to die. She (or he, but let's go with "she" for now) seems potentially unreliable. The counting could be a clue that "This time is for real" is itself a misdirect. The opening certainly catches the reader's attention. I would read on.

  3. I would read on. I'm not normally enticed by stories that start with a suicide because well... why invest, you know?

    But this is seem well written and descriptive enough to put me in the moment. Even in this dark moment, there's a voice I like.

    I would be more interested if there were some indication of "what's wrong" that she's tried this several times.

  4. I agree with Heather. There's enough in the MC's voice to make me care enough to read on. I think the scene could be tightened... might need as much exposition, especially if she's really intent on killing herself.

    Good luck!

  5. The beginning really hooked me, and I'm curious enough to read on. The seventh paragraph seems like it can be stronger though. It's such an intense moment, so I understand the short, punchy sentences. But I had a hard time following and picturing what was happening the first time I read it.

  6. As I read this I thought that this was strong writing, but the whole time I felt like that I had opened up the book and was reading maybe the end of chapter 2 or something, that this couldn't really be the beginning.
    I want to get to know this character more, get under their skin, understand why they want to die, get to know their world more. So then when this scene happens it has a greater impact.
    It's all about starting your story in the right place. Just my opinion. Best of luck.

  7. The way it opened in 2nd person for the first few paragraphs and then suddenly switched to 1st person left me feeling a little distant from, and therefore not really connecting with the main character. The writing is good but I'm not sure this opening works as strongly as it could.

  8. I agree with Anita; I think this is strong, compelling writing, but does it fit for an opening? It almost feels better geared for the end of chapter one. To see more of the build up to the pills. I'm interested to see what the agent says.

  9. I'm also curious as to the choice of using 2nd person to open up with then moving into 1st person. I am intrigued to see what happens next, but I'm not sure I care if the MC succeeds as I'm not invested with them as a person yet. Other suggestions to put this later might be a good thing?

    Good luck with it.

  10. I was a little put-off by the opening lines. I didn't really have a chance to connect with the MC. I would like to be a little more invested in her story.

    The shift in the narrative voice didn't really bother me. I think it works in the context of the story.

    In the end, I was intrigued enough that I would read on.