Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #16

GENRE: YA Fantasy/Sci-fi

The seatbelt harness barely held her in place as Malaysa was jolted in her seat. The spaceship rumbled and shook as it came to a stop, its metallic bottom grinding over the rough ground. Its engines purred softly as they powered down. Then, silence.

Malaysa released her breath. Am I alive? I think I’m alive. Should I open my eyes and check? Her eyelids fluttered up, and she felt her body.

Okay, I don’t seem to be in spirit form. I’m okay! Although…

The way her seat was slanting, she could tell the ship hadn’t landed as it should have. She glanced at the control panel in front of her, and saw its multi-colored lights flashing wildly. A burnt smell assaulted her nasal passage. Something must’ve malfunctioned.

It crash-landed. But that’s better than no-landed.

Her hands fumbled with the clasps of her harness, and when she had freed herself, she stood up out of the half-spherical seat, holding onto the sides as she tried to get her wobbly feet to support her. She hadn’t moved much during the six-hour flight; the notion of traveling so far away from home for the first time had left her paralyzed.

A shiver wracked Malaysa’s body. She felt alone…but she wasn’t alone.


  1. Your last line is great! I want to know who is with her. I am confused at the beginning because I feel that there is so much going on inside her head as she's crashing or landing or changing forms…I'm just not quite sure. You may want to try describing a crash and then her thoughts about that. It is more concrete and would be clearer. Good luck!

  2. I really like how the engine purred softly as it powered down. I can see it and hear it in my mind.

  3. Ooh, crash landing on a new planet to start! Awesomeness. I'm glad you started here instead of on the flight! I also think the use of "spirit form" tells us a whole lot about this world. We can definitely see the Fantasy/Sci-Fi combo immediately.

    We also get a good sense of the character, I love "crash-landed" and "no-landed," ha! Definitely something someone I'd want to be friends with would say.

    I think there's a few ways to tighten this up though:

    Can we get the "was" out of the first sentence? Start with Malaysa and not the seatbelt? Also, can we just call it a harness and not a seatbelt harness?

    "purred softly"--purring is soft, skip the adverb

    Would she ask herself if she should open her eyes to check? "Am I alive? I think I'm alive" is awesome, we really get a sense of her voice, but the next sentence is less real.

    "Saw its multi-colored lights"--you can lose the "saw " here, if we see the lights, we get that she's the one seeing them.

    "A burnt smell assaulted her nasal passages"--can you just tell us what the smell is like? Is there smoke?

    Is it the notion of traveling that paralyzed her? Or that she was just stuck in a seat for six hours? It's confusing whether this paralysis is literal or in her head because she's wobbling.

    Would a shiver wrack her body? I have a pet peeve the word "shiver," because how often does a person really actually shiver? Or did she just sense someone/thing watching her. I'd also lose the ellipses: "She felt alone. But she wasn't."

    I'm being super, super picky here, but basically, this has a nice flow to it and I'd read on.

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  5. I like this a lot! The only thing that kept pulling me out was her thoughts -- may want to try to tighten them up.

    But I like the last line! Great job!

  6. Good job of making us feel we were right there! I’m interested to know what happens next.

    Some edits: Your first three sentences use “as.” Delete Should I open my eyes and check? The next action takes care of that. Could you use something stronger than Okay? Would she think Thank god? (Or whomever she would thank, in her universe.) One place where you have her doing something but might be better if the object did it (Instead of “She glanced at the control panel…” just say: “The multi-colored lights on the control panel flashed wildly.”) and others where she should do it, not the object (burnt smell assaulted, shiver wracked).

    I’m not a sci-fi reader, but I’d read on just to find out who was with her.

  7. Wow, love this setup. I can't wait to hear more about who she is and why she's there. She's alone, but not alone? Nail-bitingly exciting!

    The only nitpick I have is that you could use some polish. For instance, strip out narrative distance: "She glanced at the control panel in front of her and saw its multi-colored lights flash wildly." Take her out and make it, "The control panel in front of her flashed its multi-colored lights." (Or something to that effect.)

  8. You've picked an exciting moment in which to start your story, but Malaysa's voice seems at odds with the tone of the moment. She's very quirky and upbeat--she doesn't seem shaken at all, so her actions and the narrator telling us that she's scared seem at odds with her inner dialogue.