Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May Secret Agent #22

TITLE: The Greatest Show in the Sky

From the outside, it doesn’t look like a house of Freaks.

The big white house sits on a sprawling lawn of green grass. Night blooming Moon Flowers dance in potted plants on the porch. Their petals raised to the silvery light of Ithaca’s two moons. A tricycle sits beside a tree with branches spreading as far out as they go up. Swings hang on either side of the thick trunk. Further back, a garden is surrounded by a white picket fence, a doll laying forgotten by its gate. Its like a fairy tale.

My eyes catch hold of a root cellar door. My heart leaps. There! That’s where the monster will be, I think. A delicious chill travels up my spine. Imagining what kind of Freak Marcello found imprisoned in the dark places of this big, beautiful place.

As if in answer, two figures bolt around the corner of the house, running for our van. Marcello’s hood flies back, and he doesn’t bother trying to fix it. The beefy man beside him keeps stride, even though he’s carrying a squirming sack over his shoulder.

“Quick, kid,” Wes revs the engine. “Get the door.”

Closing my fingers around the handle, I slide the door open just as Marcello and Axel skid to a halt, throwing themselves inside the vehicle.

“Go, go, go,” Marcello waves, gasping for breath.

The van lurches, pulling away from the house in a spray of gravel.


  1. I really want to know what's in that squirming sack. Good job! One little thing...the only info we get about the MC is someone calls him/her "kid" another hint or two about who's talking would be nice.

  2. You had me from the first line! I think your pacing is great, and you deliver just enough information to entice and leave us wanting more all at the same time. I agree with Sonia that something more about the narrator might help us relate to him/her even more. But the other two are nicely drawn and the action already has my blood pumping.

  3. I had to stop immediately to say "What a GREAT first sentence!" Now, back to your 250 words. . .

    In the third paragraph I think you would want to somehow flip that sentence to separate the words Freak and Marcello. It looks like a first and last name, so it tripped me up.

    I really like this and would definitely keep reading. It almost reminded me of "The Rook" which is my all-time favorite of this genre. It takes the unbelievable of paranormal and puts it in an everyday situation - although 2 moons would indicate not everyday. And I wondered that the moons were out, yet the grass was so green - you might want to indicate dusk or shadows or whatever.

  4. Nice pacing and there are so many questions for the reader with this that he will have to read on. However, I think we should know whose story it is. We get little about the MC.

  5. A little too much staging. Less attention to his fingers closing on the door handle and more on what he sees/feels/smells. First person present tense limits the narrator voice so it has to do the seeing of each thing for us, filtered through the MC without losing the MC. He is a little lost.

  6. Lovely. I really liked this - the imagery and the writing style. Nice flow from the setting to the action. One comment on this sentence - Closing my fingers around the handle, I slide the door open just as Marcello and Axel skid to a halt, throwing themselves inside the vehicle. The last part gives the impression that they throw themselves in while skidding to a halt. Maybe - skid to a halt and throw themselves…
    Nice job.

  7. Hello Entry #22,

    That really is a great first line, it stopped me short when scrolling down the page. I like the creepy feel in the opening, but when you got into the action the pace moved a little too fast for me to really grasp what was happening. After two reads, I've come to the assumption that your MC and his or her friends are kidnapping someone. It might benefit to try and clear up the sequence of events so the reader can move through naturally and still absorb the information that you want to relay. Also, watch out for your comma use. I saw many misplaced or improperly used commas. I found this site helpful,

    Good Luck!

  8. The excerpt has a strong opening line, but I would've liked a better sense of who the narrator is . I didn't think the 'I think' was necessary since you used italics, but if I'm the only one who thinks this, ignore!

    Other than that, I had a few picky points. Perhaps use a different word rather than 'house' in the 2nd paragraph to prevent close repetition of the word, e.g., 'The big white (house) building...' ? Also, I noted a couple typos: 'Further back' should be 'farther back' and 'Its like' should be 'It's like'

  9. This is creepy! Nice work.

    Be careful with your scene-setting. The second paragraph is telling, telling, telling. Also, you essentially tell the reader that you're making a distinction between the fantasy and reality of this place, but you shouldn't have to tell us -- trust your reader to pick up on this. That also means that you'll want to more artfully weave in the setting descriptions with the action. Make it clear that you're giving us the protagonist's perspective. Also, how is he feeling? Is he anxious? Excited? Curious?

  10. What a great opening, with someone running away! Usually I don't like those very much, but setting up the protagonist as wondering what's wrong just like us really pulls me in.
    About the second paragraph---I totally struggle with "telling" the scene, too (when I even bother to, a lot of times I leave it out, haha). Something that helped me out a lot was the chapter on scene-setting in Donald Maass' Fire in Fiction. He talked a lot about linking details with emotions, essentially using the scenery as a way to push the story forward, and also as making the scenery "personal" to your character.