Friday, November 29, 2013

(3) Science Fiction Thriller: FORM AND VOID

TITLE: Form and Void
GENRE: Science Fiction Thriller

When Lethe Maya is mistaken for a serial killer with whom she shares an unusual genetic anomaly, she and Cyrus Kane, an agent obsessed with bringing the killer to justice, are caught up in a fight between powerful factions determined to gain control of Lethe and everyone like her.

Lethe was born the second time on the night of her eighteenth birthday. Her new life began much as the first one had, with blood and screaming. This time, neither was hers.

The hot night air closed around her as she staggered across the golf course, sand sliding into her shoes, sticking to her fingers when she stumbled. Every breath rattled in her ears. Through the wrought iron gate of home, she saw a cool, blue glow from the water. Selah, her younger sister, had left the pool lights on.

Her hand shook as she entered the gate code – three tries before it opened. Once inside, she leaned against the blood-warm metal and emptied her stomach in a single clenching spasm.

She wiped her lips with the back of her hand and smelled the blood, sticky between her fingers. She clutched the railing to keep the world still. This wasn't happening. She didn't want to hurt anybody, Westley least of all. Her eyes prickled with the threat of tears, breath coming in wheezy little gasps.

"Go home," he had hissed at her through gritted teeth, one bloody hand grasping his wound and the other reaching for his phone to dial 911. "You can't... be here."

When all she could do was cry and say, "I'm sorry" over and over, he'd shoved her hard to start her moving across the golf course.

She wished she could erase the last hour.

27 comments:

  1. While a part of me wants the story to start with the actual scene, I commend the author for her restraint. The first method could have easily turned out melodramatic writing and this approach does string the curious reader along with questions. Kudos!

    One gripe I did have was the beginning lines. They were a bit too dramatic from me, and even gimmicky in a way because it hinges on the "born again" cliche.

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  2. I like this story premise. However, consider cutting the opening line. It is straight telling and seems disconnected to the rest of the opening.

    For me, the story starts a little too far along into the action. Consider starting it before whatever happened on the golf course, let us see that action instead of simply telling us the result. It's hard for me to care about these characters or their problems yet.

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  3. I agree with the other comments, that this doesn't seem the quite right place to start the story (though I agree right in the middle of the action would have been too much too.) Maybe just a few moments before Westley got his injury would do the trick.

    But I loved the descriptions. There's some great writing here.

    Good luck!

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  4. I agree that the first line could probably be cut, and then just move her name to start the second sentence (maybe "Lethe's second life began much…"). We don't need to know it's her 18th birthday just yet -- but I do like the "This time, neither was hers." because that immediately caught my attention.

    Also, I'm not sure we need to know her little sister is the one who left the pool light on, or what her name is just now. Those details slow the opening down a little, making it less catchy.

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  5. In the logline, I would like to know what the genetic anomaly is.

    The line about the blood and screaming not being hers this time didn't make sense. Babies aren't ordinarily covered in their own blood, and they don't usually scream.

    I agree with the comments about the pool lights. The sentence disrupts the mood.

    Beyond these quibbles, though, I like the writing and the story sounds interesting. I'd read more.

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  6. Great opening line.

    Very intriguing concept with someone being mistaken for a serial killer. Some great hints here at an interesting story to come.

    A few comments:

    1) "blood-warm metal" I think I see the type of image this is trying to evoke, but it felt like a bit of a stretch as a description.

    2) While I do like the general plot, the second half here felt like it was pushing to hard for an emotional response with two characters that I don't really know yet. I have some sympathy for Lethe because of the wonderful opening, but Westley means nothing to me and I have no idea what their relationship to one another is. Thus it felt a little heavy-handed.

    Still, I think I'd keep reading to find out what happens next with Lethe.

    Best of luck with it!

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  7. I am not crazy about the opening, it seems too self-consciously trying to be "hooky". The rest is good though, as long the situation with Westley is explained soon. I don't like having too much info withheld from me!

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  8. I loved the opening parg! I do think, though, if you're going to lead with it, you have to follow up with it. I want to know how and why she was born again. Not going there makes the opening a gimmick, and I'm disappointed because I'm not getting what it promised.

    I also wanted you to start a little earlier than you did. I wanted to know why she was in the condition she was. I don't think you have to go so far back as to show that actual event, but I do think you could start with what immediately happens afterward.

    The golf course threw me a bit, because I immediately thought of grass, and then it turned out she was covered in sand, so maybe say she crawled out of the sand trap and then crossed the golf course.

    Parg 3 could be much stronger if it was shown.

    Good luck!

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  9. I'd read on. I think your opening is clear and engaging. I would take out the last sentence, "She wished she could erase the last hour" which seems like stating the obvious.

    The logline seems OK; I'm wondering if there's something to make it more intriguing to me, perhaps including what the factions are, or why this is a sci-fi rather than another genre.

    I like the fact that you start after the action, and that in the beginning I thought Lethe was the one who did the killing. For me the born again line worked, but I can see how someone might take it as too much. Best of luck!

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  10. I'd read on. I think your opening is clear and engaging. I would take out the last sentence, "She wished she could erase the last hour" which seems like stating the obvious.

    The logline seems OK; I'm wondering if there's something to make it more intriguing to me, perhaps including what the factions are, or why this is a sci-fi rather than another genre.

    I like the fact that you start after the action, and that in the beginning I thought Lethe was the one who did the killing. For me the born again line worked, but I can see how someone might take it as too much. Good luck!

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  11. 3. Longline sets up a wonderful premise. I did wonder if this is meant to be set in a contemporary world or a futuristic.

    The opening imagery is very eye catching. At this point, the vague details hint at the horrors to come, and for that I’m intrigued to keep reading.

    However, I did want to go a bit deeper into her ‘voice’. To get more of a sense of *who* she is from the start of the book.

    I think that you have the opportunity to do this with the last sentence—which seemed a bit implied already and not as strong as the rest of the prose. Perhaps further the parallel from that first paragraph—you bring up the blood. But the screams aren’t connected. Or follow up with how all of those 'flashes' of detail have led to her rebirth?

    Good luck!

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  12. A very clear logline with high stakes, followed by a dramatic opening. Tense, evocative, original. You have hooked me for certain.

    My only concern is: Science fiction? Your ability to write a thriller is established beyond question here. But there is nothing futuristic in golf courses or pool lights. There should be some "other" detail to indicate to readers they are in another world you've built.

    Nancy Bilyeau
    www.nancybilyeau.com

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Don't you have to go in increments of 20, Josh?

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  15. I think it has to get to 150 before you can bid for a full, right?

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  16. Didn't we get rid of that? Only has to be five bids?

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  17. Drat, I think you're right! This is what I get for skipping my second morning coffee :)

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  18. Bidding is STILL OPEN. Illegal bid at 30.

    We'll pick up at Tamar's bid of 100 as the 4th bid!

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  19. BIDDING IS CLOSED.

    The full goes to Pam van H.V.!

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