Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #14

TITLE: Apotheosis
GENRE: Speculative Fiction

She’d always figured it was just an expression, but the clock on the opposite wall was, in fact, ticking. It was carved out of wood with a shining classical face—hands and everything—and a brushed metal pendulum swinging back and forth with a slight mechanical jigger. A pure analog pattern of motion that nearly induced hypnosis but for that perpetual tick. Tick. Tock. Over and over. She was surprised she had not picked up on it before.

Her closest frame of reference was her old metronome, but that beat was for keeping, for holding a little snatch of time in place. This sound was altogether different, a conspicuous nod to the passage of the past twenty-two minutes. Kallie supposed that might be the purpose of the antiquity—a subconscious reminder that someone’s time was valuable, just not hers. She shook the thought away. There might be plenty to malign the physicians for, but their choice of wall decorations was not one of them.

There had always been people who mistrusted the doctors, avoided them, feared them. Men who had convinced themselves that taking care of oneself was a greater sign of weakness than a stubborn march into the advanced stages of disease. Women who preferred to fatten the pockets of anyone with a book or a pill—or both—to sell. Skepticism was healthy. But the prevailing attitudes were not skepticism and even now, after everything, Kallie would not join them. Her rationality would not allow it.


  1. You've got some intriguing phrases here -- "slight mechanical jigger" ... "holding a little snatch of time in place" but most of the sentences here are passive (using was/were, not showing someone/something DOING something). Just something to look out for.

  2. I'm intrigued by this excerpt. This isn't a genre I would normally read, but I would keep going. Nice work.

  3. I like the intrigue of the first paragraph, but then you pushed it a bit too far with the comparison to the metronome when I was warmed up and ready to get into the story.

    I did find the sentence about men taking care of themselves to be confusing and it took a couple of readings to realize that you meant that it was to visit the doctor instead of truly taking care of themselves by avoiding them. This could be cleaned up easily.

    I like that her beliefs pit her agains the norms. Good luck!

  4. You write like I think: too many thoughts in not enough space. I love that. I totally get your writing style and I'm HOOKED.
    Yeah, it's passive, yeah it's dense, but so many great novels start out that way. The important thing is I want MORE.

  5. I have no idea what is going on here.

    All I can figure out is that there are doctors most people don't trust.

    Why is she confused by a literal clock ticking? Is analog no longer done in her world?

    It just seems like an odd place to focus for the first page.

    As I said, not really clear. I'd try the first chapter, but if clarity wasn't reached in a page or two, I'd probably put this one aside.

  6. I'm sorry but this all sounds like back story. Consider opening closer to the action. Describing a ticking clock in the opening paragraph doesn't draw me in. Perhaps if I had some idea if the ticking was driving her crazy or soothing her nerves it would hold more interest. You need to give the ticking clock relevance.

  7. I like this, but I also personally disagree that every opening has to be action-centric. I followed the bit about clocks being a thing of the past, and I'm interested to see why she's at the doctor's. Assuming it's not for a banal checkup, I'd probably keep reading. Seems like it has the potential to be a solid character-driven story. I'd even be okay if the entire time frame of the book was from this moment until someone called her in for her appointment (in which case it'd probably be literary fiction).

  8. It struck me as a bit of a disconnect that Kallie is unfamiliar with analog clocks, but does know about metronomes. For some reason, I feel like if analog clocks were largely anachronisms, then metronomes would be, too.

    But there is some nice description here, and I'm curious why most people fear doctor. I'd read on to find out why Kallie is determined not to.

  9. Please don't cut too much from this. While we may not get plot on this first page, we get setting, character, and tone in spades and all three make me want to read more.

  10. Nothing happened. I'm not saying you need exploding action on every page, but something should happen. You start with the ticking clock, which is interesting because it seems to be an anomaly, but she doesn't even react to it, and reacting to it would be something happening. Instead, she makes comparisons and rambles on about things that don't seem to matter.

    What seems to matter is the last parg about doctors, but since I have no context, it means nothing. I just don't know what's going on.

    (although if ticking clocks were just a legend here, than what would she know about analog, and if she understood analog, it seems she should know about a ticking clock)ie

  11. I like the writing in these opening paragraphs, especially the middle paragraph. It evokes a sense of place and (heh) time, and gives us a little glimpse at Kallie’s personality. The first paragraph feels like it is trying to make a big philosophical point, which doesnt quite come through. The third paragraph feels more telling than showing, and we lose a bit of Kallie's voice.