Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #14

TITLE: The Facility
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

Celia Walker wasn’t listening to the woman in front of her. Not really. She parsed out words, not full sentences. Instead, her concern lay with her inability to stop shaking. She wasn’t shaking because of cold air seeping through her torn clothes or that she woke up to strangers while on a metal cot. No, what really chilled Celia was being covered in blood.

“The medication we administered may keep you groggy so don’t rush to sit up. How are you feeling?” The woman, Marion she mentioned her name was, said. Her tone was what struck Celia. Soothing. Like she was used to helping people.

Celia met Marion’s eyes. She opened her mouth to answer but a rawness in her throat stopped her. Clearing her throat it felt shredded and sore as though she’d been screaming non-stop. Her breath caught and Celia remembered that, the screaming but little else.

“Cecelia?” Marion asked. The room and now the woman came into full focus. The smell of rubbing alcohol filled Celia’s nose. Marion stretched a pale and freckled arm out to Celia. In the stark light Celia could make out how clean Marion was in comparison. Leaning away from Marion’s reach she sat on her hands to stop them from trembling and felt the grit on her skin and clothes. Squirming she also felt the stickiness between her fingers.

No bandages, no cuts, no pain. This isn't my blood. And while her shudders ebbed a tad a new concern grew.


  1. I like your imagery. The way you describe her being in a state of shock/disorientation really pulled me in.

    I liked the description of Marion as well. But I can't help wondering if she is important enough for you to talk about her that much (mostly refering to the second paragraph here). If she is, then definitely leave the description in because I already can sense she is a kind person.

    This really intrigued me. Where did the blood come from?
    I would read more.

  2. I think this is a great opening and I read on to find out what happened. But I think the scene could benefit from some work in places.

    I found the first paragraph a little long before you get to main point - she's covered in blood. I think you could rework, start with that fact and elaborate. Beyond the fact that she's shaking, what does being covered in blood feel like? (Sticky?) What does it smell like?

    I think this might be a case where you're starting a bit too late. If you backtracked just a little and showered her waking up covered with blood it might make this more effective.

    This has tons of potential and with a little work will really shine.

  3. This seems like it's starting in a good place. I think the line at the end of the first paragraph really deserves some special treatment: "No, what really chilled Celia was being covered in blood."

    The "was being" kind of drags this down, and this is a line that could really pop and make an impact. Perhaps make it more active, or if you keepn the was you could describe the blood with a powerful verb or visual description (depending on how graphic you want to go). The blood that saturated her skin down to the cracks of her nails. Those specifics create a powerful visual.

    The first line of dialogue can probably be pared down to something more talky, maybe just "the meds might make you groggy," a voice said. The woman... etc. It would work to move up Celia's internal thoughts and mix those in with all the phyisical reactions to balance it out.

    Good luck!

  4. In your first parg. you're telling us what she 'didn't' do, what she 'wasn't' feeling. Instead, tell us what she 'did' feel. Tell us why she 'was' shaking. Maybe start with her covered in blood and shaking.

    Parg 2 - perhaps give us some of C's internal thoughts. DOes she wonder where she is and what happened?

    Parg 3 - you tell us she remembered the screaming. Does she remember who was screaming, or what the screaming was about?

    parg 4 - she has become Cecelia. You also tell us the room and Marian came into focus. If that's so, you need to say they were blurry or out of focus in a previous parg. In the sentence - how clean Marian was in comparison, say in commparison to what? or who?

    Perhaps look at all the things you are telling, and convert some of them to showing, and maybe consider including so more internal thoughts.

  5. I agree this is off to a good start, but it could be stronger, the writing tighter.

    For instance, "Her breath caught and Celia remembered that (ital.), the screaming but little else." I'm pulled away from wondering why she may have been screaming and trying to make sense of the sentence.

    Perhaps instead something like, "Celia's breath caught as she remembered screaming, but little else."

    Simple changes like that to really add polish and shine!

  6. What a gripping premise and opening. As others mentioned, a little more consideration to your wording and order could really strengthen what's already there. I think it would be stronger to start with her being covered in blood and let her thoughts about shaking come after. You have great imagery - the torn clothes, the metal cot - and I think you could keep that and just work it into other parts.

    Some sentences feel a little clunky and bumped me out, like "The woman, Marion she mentioned her name was, said." Also, I'd stay away from passive voice wherever possible - "Her tone was what struck Celia," could easily become "Her tone struck Celia," and be better off for it, IMO. :)

    You have a great opening and a lot of intrigue in only a few words. Good luck with this!

  7. The first paragraph is confusing because you use "she" a lot. "She parsed" Who? The woman? It should be the woman since that's who was mentioned last, however that would mean the next one is also about the woman which is where I get confused. "Her concern lay with" should mean the woman but that means we're in her head. You'll have to be a bit more clear on who is who when you have two subjects of the same sex.

    The tag after the dialog is a bit odd. I think you need to simplify it a little. "The woman, Marion, said." Or something. It's just a lot to try to put into a dialog tag, too hard to follow as a reader.

    This is an interesting start, though! Good luck!

  8. I think the first few paragraphs need a little tweeking. Perhaps start with her covered in blood. Then go from there.

    I find this opening intriguing and would read more. I want to know who's blood it is.

    I love the imagery, but it seems too tame and passive for what's actually happening. For example "her concern lay with her inability to stop shaking." Why not something simple and direct like "She couldn't stop shaking." Or maybe have her ask the question "Why couldn't she stop shaking?" or whatever.

  9. Wow! The line you left us with makes me want to read on. I want to know whose blood it was. I want to know what happened. However, I agree with the others that this still needs some tweaking so that we can get closer with the main character. For example, I'm not sure we need to know who Marion is at this point. In fact, I think it would be better that we didn't know her name as it would show more confusion for your main character. Also, short, punchy sentences might work better in this scene. Remember, the character is confused, so putting together long strands of thought would be difficult. Keep working on this and good luck. I want to know what happens. I would read more.

  10. Great idea, lots of interesting facts and nice prose. Tighten your sentences a little here and there and you've got a good story I'd love to read (as if my opinion counts ;-) )

  11. Great, creepy title. Celia has obviously gone through something traumatic, and I get a good sense of how freaked out she is. Keep an eye out for passive phrases in your opening. If you can show us how Celia reacts to everything rather than just letting everything happen to her (the alcohol smell filling her nose etc.), this opening will be much stronger. The reveal that the blood on Celia’s clothes isn’t her own is a great one, but we don’t know how she feels when she thinks it is her own blood. I would recommend focusing less on Marion and more on Celia’s inner monologue.