Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #31

TITLE: Bluebird

I’ve never had coherent dreams. It’s odd that this one is so clear. And by "clear,” I mean I can tell that this thing (whatever it is) standing before me is blue. Pretty good, for me.

I can also tell it’s saying my name.

“Caitlin…” the thing repeats in a voice like a timpani. I can’t make out what else it’s saying. I strain to hear, but to no avail.

Then my palms start to burn like hell and glow a bright blue. Oh god, it hurts. I try to scream, but I can’t so much as squeak. The blue stuff blazes through the rest of my body. I feel like I’m turning to ash. There’s a fiery haze around my eyes now. I can’t see!-

It’s gone.

The blue figure jumps. It takes my head in its hands and - oh god, what’s happening? –

My eyes pop open.

The sun is streaming through my sheer curtains. The leaves on the sycamore outside our apartment are waving, dappling everything in my miniscule room. An oriole is chirping.

There’s no blue thing in sight.

Phew. I lift a hand and brush my frizzy hair out of my face – wait. What is that on my palm?

It’s some sort of symbol, three smooth intertwining loops. And it’s scratched into my hand.

“Ow,” I say with some surprise as it starts stinging. My other palm follows suit, and I flip my hand over to see an identical symbol carved into it.

What the hell?


  1. I'm interested in what's going on with your MC's hands and the dream. I'm not sure it's the best place to open, though. The whole starting a book with a dream sequence is really overdone, so you have to really be aware of that and careful if you're going to use it. I thought your first sentence was great, but once things started getting sort of "dreamish", I got a little lost and ungrounded in the story. I really loved the descriptions once your MC woke up, so why not start there, with him/her noticing her hands at some point during the day and thinking back to the strange dream that might have caused them? Overall, I think this sounds like a cool concept and I'm interested to see what's going on!

  2. I don't mind the concept or the dream-start, but I don't love the "voice" that results from a first-person, present-tense narration. There's a lot of "what the?" "what's happening?" type stuff, which always feels false to me. Confusion, to me, is something I don't vocalize, internally or externally. You are confused. Okay. What do you *do*?

  3. I really like the concept of a mark on the hand after a dream. I agree though it might be best to start after the dream. Your first line is very good. It could be a part of her processing the dream after waking.

    You do a good job making the reader curious.

  4. I know starting off with a dream sequence is considered overdone, but I rather liked it here. Though I started to get confused by this line, "The blue figure jumps. It takes my head in its hands..." I just had a hard time visualizing what was going on.

    Some of the main character's exclamations also pulled me out of the story. Get rid of things like "What the hell" and "Phew" and I think you'll have a stronger opening.

    And if you do decide to keep the alien dream sequence, give us a bit more description of the alien itself. I think that would add to the mystery and creepiness.

    Good luck!

  5. I think that opening a novel with a dream sequence is a challenging place to start. Personally I always have trouble with dream sequences and would much prefer to find out the information another way. I do like the idea of the symbol on her hand but you do have to make the reader believe this could happen. Good luck!

  6. Generally, opening with a dream doesn't work because the reader gets invested in the dream and then it ends and you have to reorient yourself to a new reality. But here, you've taken part of the dream into the real world (the marks on the MC's palms) so for me, I think it works.

    The problems for me lay in the writing. Cut out all your 'is's and are's'', and change the ing words to s words. For example --

    The sun streams through my sheer curtains. The leaves on the sycamore outside our apartment wave, dappling everything in my miniscule room. An oriole chirps.

    It makes the writing active instead of passive, as well as cleaner. ANd, yeah, take out the Phew and the Ow.