Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #39

TITLE: Hidden Obsession
GENRE: Romantic Suspense

The back alley was empty. Dorothy’s car was gone. Jake blew out a breath of relief. He stepped out into cool air and made sure no other cars were parked out back, except for his covered bike.

April rain washed away the filth of the day. The L. A. night air was clean again. The wet black top reflected the full moon that hung high in the sky. The crazies were out.

The coolness from the breeze covered him like a crisp lined sheet. The hairs on his arm stood on end.

No cars passed by, or pedestrians. The eerie silence made Jake pause. He shrugged off the odd feeling and looked around. He walked to both ends of the alley. Nothing out of the ordinary, except for the empty corner where a drug dealer usually stood. He was gone.

“This is ridiculous.” he spat. Time to lock up and head home.

Jake headed back toward the door. Out the corner of his eye, a pair of black shoes jutted out from behind one of the dumpsters. He recognized those Nike high tops. They belonged to his uncle.

Surging forward, Jake reached his uncle side. He bent over and checked Sam’s pulse. There wasn’t any. “Sam,” he said with sadness.

Two pools of blood seeped out under Sam. There was a wound on the left shoulder, just above his heart. And the other on the right side of his head and out the back of skull. The kill shot.


  1. I know it's tough with such a short expert but the beginning of this was a bit lacking for me, though the ending did help it bounce back. I don't know what is going on, or what he might be waiting for. But when he finds his uncles dead body "BAM" I am like "huh?" so that's good, right? The scenes description is great, but what would have been a nice combination is finding out how the eerie scene is making him feel as he begins to notice things. Is he nervous? Scared? Indifferent, even? I think this has potential, and its still a great job. Good luck, and I hope this helps!

  2. Okay, I got really interested right around: "...except for the empty corner where a drug dealer usually stood. He was gone." Great job piquing my curiosity there. I wanted to know what the MC's relationship with a drug dealer was.

    Now, earlier in the passage, I felt like something as lacking to anchor me. Immediately, there's a mention of a "Dorothy" but I wasn't sure why I should care about her or who she was.

    So, who's more important to the MC? Sam or Dorothy?

  3. Honestly, I'm a bit confused. I'm confused as to why he's worried, and also to why he doesn't seem concerned about his uncle...but perhaps it would develop later

  4. There are some things here that intrigue me--Jake looking for Dorothy's car and being relieved that it's gone and the missing drug dealer. But I had trouble connecting with Jake and understanding what was going through his head. I think some of the problem was lines like this:

    The coolness from the breeze covered him like a crisp lined sheet. The hairs on his arm stood on end.

    The first line seems like a pleasant sensation, so I didn't understand his reaction to it (hairs on his arm standing up).

    I think it would also help to show more of his reaction to his uncle's death. Right now the only clue I got that he was feeling anything was when he said Sam's name "with sadness".

  5. I need to know more what the MC is feeling and thinking and maybe his age or occupation to connect with him.

  6. I like the way this opening establishes a tone and atmosphere. You've done a good job drawing us into the landscape of this scene. I agree with one of the other comments that the clarity of the piece needs a little work. I think the problem is that we don't have a sense of why Jake is there--at least not until the very end. I think if you weave in some hint that he is looking for someone or chasing someone--weave it in earlier, that would help. You might also want to tighten the wording a bit. For example, at the end of paragraph four, you could delete the last sentence. If the corner is empty then there is no need to add "He was gone." In paragraph three, I'm confused by "crisp lined sheet." Did you mean "linen"? You might want to reword paragraph six. That repeated word "out" causes confusion. A sentence beginning "out of the corner of his eye," requires that the next word be a noun or pronoun...."he" or Jake. As it is, one could read it that the shoes jutted out of the corner of his eye. I know, I know. that's not what you meant. Don't let these comments discourage you though. You have captured the "noir" sense of good suspense.

  7. I agree with many of the other comments. You opening has potential, but as we never get a sense for how Jake is feeling, I found it difficult to connect with him emotionally. Even when Jake finds his uncle dead, you don't give us much of an emotional response other than saying that he said "Sam" with sadness. It seemed like a pretty underwhelming reaction to finding your relative dead behind a dumpster.

    Like the others, I didn't really understand why Jake was there (or what he found ridiculous, for that matter) until he finds his dead uncle (I'm assuming he was waiting to meet up with Sam?).

    Finally two minor notes: You have the line "The crazies were out" in italics, so I assume Jake was thinking that. If that's the case, is there a reason his thought is in past tense? I found that a little weird because we don't normally think in past tense. Unless that wasn't meant to be a thought at all...

    Lastly, I think you could make your opening more dynamic by varying your sentence length. You have a lot of sentence fragments, which can work to create the illusion of a quicker pace, but it loses it's effect when you use them continuously. You did this really effectively in the third paragraph (your first sentence has twelve words and your second sentence has eight) and I think if you apply the same method to the rest of your opening, it would help to make the writing flow a little better.

    I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck!

  8. I agree with the other comments. I was confused as to who Dorothy was, and I wasn't sure of the reasons for Jake's "This is ridiculous." Also, it sort of seemed like he was expecting his uncle; Jake really didn't seem to have any reaction when he recognizes the shoes, or realizes Sam doesn't have a pulse.

  9. I didn't connect to Jake or Sam's death in this. Why mention Dorothy at this point if she's not important to the scene?

    What I liked about the intro was the creepiness of the usual people/cars not being out that night. But I'd like to get a better idea of how he feels about it. I thought there was a little too much focus on the weather at first.

    To me, the murder seems to come out of nowhere. He's not out there looking for Sam, there's no indication that his uncle should be somewhere but is missing. Unless the "ridiculous" was him getting tired of waiting for Sam... but that's not clear.

    Then his dead uncle is behind the dumpster and it seems rather random. I'm also not getting a good sense of his feelings about that, either. It be stronger if you worked on showing some of that.

  10. I couldn't get a grasp on this one. Is it the apocalypse? Why is he just sad about his uncle? Shouldn't he be horrified? Also, there are 5 sentences in a row that start with 'The', which falls a little flat. I think some fine tuning could make this really good though. Good job and keep working!

  11. I agree with others that I didn't quite connect with the character. I thought that you had too many short, choppy sentences in the first few paragraphs. If you evened that out, it might read more smoothly. Also, I didn't feel Jake's reaction when he discovers Sam's body. Instead of telling us "he said with sadness", show us his sadness. But really, wouldn't he be feeling shock and horror first that his uncle is dead, before sadness?

    Good luck!