Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #24

GENRE: YA Fantasy

I killed a man.

Two nights ago.

A creepy guy with a knife came at me.

I never saw him before and have no idea who he was.

Right after I left him lying in his own blood, I woke up screaming.

Destiny, the dietary aide at the mental hospital where I work after school said, “Dreams foretell the future, Samantha.”

That spooked me out, but then maybe she was wrong.

Ever since school ended today, I've been dreading this moment. My stomach lurches when I realize this will be a test of Destiny's prophesy. I've got my fingers crossed that she's wrong.

The bus driver pulls off to the side of the road and shouts to me, “Mental Hospital.” He lets me out and drives away.

My heart's pounding. I force my feet to keep going, even though I want to run after the bus and yell, “Wait. Don't leave me here. I'm only sixteen. I'm not ready for this.”

The bus pulls out of sight. It doesn't matter, because something makes me keep moving toward the hospital.

It's so cold, even for northern Wisconsin in December. Snowflakes rush down from the skies and bite my face. My breath comes out in frosty vapors. I pull the hood of my ski jacket over my head and wish I had a weapon. That's how bad this place spooks me out.
What spooks me the most is that I won't be able to stop what happens next.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sorry for deleting my previous comment; fixing a typo haha

    > Destiny, the dietary aide at the mental hospital where I work after school said, “Dreams foretell the future, Samantha.”

    This feels a bit unprofessional for an employee at a mental hospital :P

    Overall I feel like this opening moves too fast to stay "grounded" and feel real. We've covered a lot of information which is great (character intro, setting, potentially the inciting incident), but it's all a bit rushed over.

    I like your prose, especially the description in the last paragraph. The last sentence is an effective and intriguing cliffhanger.

    Best of wishes :)

  3. I'm definitely going to agree with the previous person that you have some great prose.

    The narrative technique you use in the beginning, with the series of one sentences, is lovely. However, I worry you might be overdoing it. You set the book up to read quickly, and the pacing further down doesn't maintain that speed. You could combine a couple of the first sentences together. It'll still have the punch and keep much of its overall pace. I was also a little thrown by her nonchalant description of the MC killing a man. We don't know how she killed him, we don't know what she felt in that instance. You did a great job describing her at the end of the sample; I guess I was hoping to see a bit more description earlier in the page.

    Overall, nicely done!

  4. I felt there were places where you could cut some words for some tighter prose. Like "the dietary aide at the mental hospital I work after school" is a bit of an info dump. Something like "my coworker at the mental hospital" might work better.

  5. I think you should ditch the dream...and just begin with the ``Ever since school ended`` paragraph. To me everything from there on is creepy, intriguing and well written, without the let down of the opening lines being a dream.

  6. PLEASE don't say mental hospital. That is offensive and not what these places are called. Yes, I believe a teen might call one that but this would not be teen I want to read about for more than one sentence. I also think you need to reconsider making this sound like a place full of spooky killers. That is also untrue and offensive to people who actually need to use these centers.

    Also, I think you need to either move the first few lines or tell us when they're happening. Is she thinking about this during class or while on the bus to the hospital? I think she's on the bus but it takes me half of this excerpt to figure that out. And why does she think this is suddenly going to happen now? Was she at work on a Tuesday in the dream and now she's at work and it's Tuesday? I think we need a stronger reason for her worry than just what her co-worker said.

    Good luck!

  7. I’m not entirely clear on what is happening here. This seems to be a case of too much happening too fast and not providing the reader with enough time and details to allow them gain their footing. It’s important to start in action, but not PEAK action. There’s a lot happening to the MC but without first establishing a connection in the world, it is hard to be truly invested. I also worry about how mental health is being treated overall in this piece.