Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #33


The spaceship was going to land right in her backyard. Jayne threw herself against the window in her father’s study, as if her face pushed to the glass would somehow give shape to the blue light blasting through the blackness of the night. Was it?

No. Not a spaceship. Just because her father believed in aliens didn’t mean UFOs were real. Get a freaking grip, already.

She pulled away, ready to sigh, when the windowpane shuddered and sent a shock wave up both hands still splayed against the glass. She stumbled back and yanked closed the heavy drape as if it could somehow stop the intrusion. The blue intensified, casting an eerie halo about the drapery.

Then darkness.

Seconds passed, maybe minutes, maybe years. Jayne’s heart thumped rapidly like a drummer on speed. She tiptoed to the window and pulled back the drape. The desk lamp from behind cast a soft glow upon the glass, outlining the mound of strawberry blonde curls that spilled about her pale, freckled face. She scanned the moonless night. The lights in the sky were gone.

Lights in the sky fly by. She repeated the mantra ten times, letting each familiar word comfort every frazzled nerve. She reminded herself there was no unidentified flying object in her neighborhood, only a low-lying plane headed towards the private airstrip miles away.

At that very moment, Jayne resolved to stop drinking coffee late at night. Her nerves needed caffeine like a diabetic needed processed sugar.


  1. I feel like a cheater! I've read your query + 250 on another blog contest, so I'm familiar with your story. I have to say, reading just the 250 alone without reading the query, they really popped. I love your voice and the way you write, and knowing what your story is about, I would want to read more.

  2. The spaceship was going to land right in her backyard.

    The first line leaves me in question as to why she feels this way. I think it might be useful to add another sentence of description there, b/c it threw me off a bit for the rest of the piece

  3. So many great images. I love the eerie blue halo about the drapery. The descriptions of what is happening bring to mind the sort of nostalgic '80s sci-fi/coming-of-age movies that I loved growing up. Or like, the recent film Super 8. I did get confused when she changed her mind about it not being a spaceship, because the first line was so definitive about it for sure being one. I also was taken out of her head a little when we saw her mound of curls from behind - gorgeously cinematic, but not in her POV. Overall, I like how you set it up: we know where this is going but we're not there yet, making it even more tantalizing.

  4. This sounds really fun!

    Like others have said, this feels really cinematic. The curls thing did pull me out of the story a bit, but I'd still totally read on!

  5. I like the overall tone enough that I'm going to get nitpicky:

    "threw herself" makes me think she's trying to break the glass.

    How would a face "give shape"?

    The "Was it?" is a little vague.

    If her fingers are splayed on the glass then I don't think a shockwave would go up them.

    "Lights in the sky fly by" is an odd mantra, unless it makes sense later. If not, it should probably repeat the sentence before.

    The drummer and diabetic similes are a little extreme, although as we learn more about Jayne, maybe they work better.

  6. I like it. I thought the voice was engaging and I like scifi.

    I agree the curls mention pulled me out of the POV because it's not clear whether it's a POV slip or she's seeing her own reflection.

    "Was it?" didn't work for me... Was it what?

    Why does she have a mantra? Has her dad scared her with all his UFO talk and now most lights scare her enough that she has to have a mantra?

    What did disappoint me in this scene was that it ends with the tension evaporated. The lights have seemingly moved on and she's convinced herself it's just a plane. It makes me wonder why we even started with this if it wasn't going to lead to anything. Granted, the next 250 might have something more interesting happen, so I'd read on to find out.

  7. I think this is an excellent, creepy, beginning. Paints a picture of a frightened girl desperately trying to deny what she just saw with her own eyes. I assumed the curls were a reflection in the glass, so that part didn't bother me at all. I'd love to read more.

  8. I love that you use Jayne with a "y" (I'm biased since it's a family name). I think your story deserves a snazzier opening line:

    The spaceship was going to land right in her backyard.

    For me, this is a clunker that doesn't do your story justice. You'd think spaceships were enough to hook, but given the genre was sci-fi, I didn't know if spaceships were commonplace or not. (Like the JJ Abrams Star Trek, the beginning is set in Iowa, but there is a freaking huge spaceship parked in the boonies and their recruiting for their fleet.) What follows shows that no, she is definitely not cool with the spaceship. I like the description of the blue light; I think if it opened with describing the light, and her not calling it a spaceship right away, that would help. She sees some blue orb that's heading for her backyard and she's freaked. I would play around with the opening line a bit.

    I'd read on because I'm curious :)

  9. First, I like the voice, and I'm curious to what is going to happen.

    I do feel the first line is a little misleading because at the beginning I thought she actually saw a UFO, but then it turns out it was just a plane.

  10. I like the voice and the writing. It makes me wonder the age of the MC? For YA I would guess 15, but so far this reads a little younger. Maybe it was the mention of her being in her father's study and his belief in UFOs.