Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #20

TITLE: Angel
GENRE: Historical


The ground shuddered beneath Ginger’s feet. A thin fog of dust floated down from the roof of the dim, olive drab tent. She steadied the metal tray of medical supplies and went back to rebandaging Sergeant Armstrong’s leg.

It had been so close…closer than normal. A second explosion followed the first. What was going on? It had been quiet for days.

“Move! Find cover! The Germans are bombing the unit!” a short dark-haired medic shouted, pushing through the tent.

His head streamed blood, and most of his combat uniform was in shreds from just below the knees showing the peppering of shrapnel up and down his legs. He tried to push off the nurses who came to attend to him and began aiding the wounded soldiers. “Get up! We have to evacuate!”

Ginger stared at the chaos, motionless. It was as if the world had changed to a film running far too slowly and she couldn’t find a way to speed it up.

Another explosion screamed just outside the tent. The force sent her flying backwards against the empty cot next to Sergeant Armstrong. A searing pain seeped up the back of her skull as her vision blurred and momentarily faded to black.

“Ginger! We’ve got to get you out of here!” the sergeant yelled over the deafening explosion.

He had managed to pull himself off his cot and held onto one of the tent’s wooden support poles. If he was in any pain, he didn’t show it.


  1. This certainly throws us right into the middle of things! Some nice imagery here. I'd definitely be interested in a story about a female nurse during a World War II (I'm guess that's the era), as long as it's well-researched.

    The writing is strong. I would say that the first paragraph is a little heavy on adjectives, but otherwise I don't see too many issues. Good luck!

  2. I don't usually read straight historical fiction, but this opening really grabbed me and threw me into the action. Good job.

  3. Like the feel of this until we use the film simile. Feels a bit cliche. Without it (not sure how I feel about her staring motionless), we have him scream "We need to evacuate!" then explosion. Much faster, more impact.

    Interested to read more.

  4. This jumps into the action a little too quickly for me. I would rather get to know Ginger a little more before the heavy duty bombing starts. I'm not really invested in her enough yet.

  5. I enjoy WWII set stories (assuming this is the war and not WWI).

    The question "what was going on?" feels misplaced; I would assume the character is oriented enough to know what a bomb sounds like if she is a trauma nurse on the battlefield--though I am assuming that. later she is staring at the chaos motionless, which is very un-nurse like (I work with nurses, they do not waste time and usually have a plan). That being said, I think we need to know what Ginger's place is in all this right on the first page.

    I tend to agree with the others that maybe showing Ginger first before the bombs might orient us a little better. She could reflect that the bombing had ceased but the ground still trembled, showing us that danger is imminent and could pounce at any second; throwing us right in with the bombs actually loses an opportunity to build tension. This fleeing the scene would be a great ending to the first chapter, or first scene. Maybe a little build up will help get there.

  6. You have some great descriptions, and we get to see Ginger in action in a way that shows us something about her. As an opening it's fine, but I wonder what you could do with it if you started this piece later in the same day. I'm not saying you should change it, but it's something to consider.

  7. I never read historical fiction, so I would have passed right over this entry had it not been for the first word. "Incoming!" Such a simple word but it had me riveted. There is nothing disappointing in the way the rest of the scenes play out. Love the writing style!

  8. Perhaps put an 'and' between the first and second sentence, making it one sentence. Ginger should react immediately to the ground shuddering beneath her feet. Coming at the end of a second sentence makes it feel like it's coming too late. If you combine the two sentences with the 'and' her reaction comes immediately (even though it's in exactly the same spot.)

    Perhaps say where the medical tray is. I imagined it was in her hands, that she was walking with it, but then she goes back to bandaging the sergeant's leg.

    You might cut 'What was going on? It had been quiet for days.' If she's a combat nurse, she has to know it can get violent at any time. She wouldn't think it was going to remain quiet, just because it had been quiet previously. She'd probably be waiting for that moment when things went crazy again.

    You could also cut 'The Germans are bombing the unit!" in the next parg, and all of the fifth parg, except for the dialogue. I'm guessing 'The Germans...' is there to let the reader know what time period this is, but it could be WWI just as easily as WWII. And even if the reader doesn't know what time period it is, Ginger and your characters would know, and would probably not say that. You can easily get the time period out by having a character make a reference to Hitler or Nazis if WWII or the Kaiser if WWI.

    Perhaps cut 'motionless' in parg 6 because it refers to the chaos.

    Perhaps change 'as if the world had changed to' to 'like' for cleaner reading.

    Maybe add a reaction from Ginger between parg 7 and 8 when she wakes from her short black out.

    The wooden tent pole made me wonder if it really would have been wooden. I have no idea if it would have been or not, but I did question it.

    OVerall, it works, I think, and the issues above can be fixed easily.


  9. The emphasis on action in these opening paragraphs makes it hard to make an emotional connection to Ginger as she simply reacts to the chaos around her. The voice doesn't stand out, which makes it feel a bit generic.