Thursday, July 17, 2008

#34 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

title: Blood Heir
genre: general fiction

It’s the first day back from spring break, and school already bores me to death. I am doodling on my desk and praying for something to make the hour go faster, anything to put an end to Mrs. Sheedy's incessant mumbling about the Underground Railroad.

Like a thunderclap, a knock at the door silences her voice. I wasn't the only one to get stirred out of a day dream in the classroom. We stare at the door, waiting to see who it is. Maybe my prayer is being answered, and I’ll have a chance to talk to my friend, Catherine, who is smacking on gum in the seat behind me.

We watch as our teacher puts down the chalk and walks to the door. It opens a crack, then an arm’s length. Her graying head pokes out.

My head tilts, along with everyone elses', as we strain to hear the conversation.

A gasp and a loud crackle makes us jump. Mrs. Sheedy’s body crumbles in the doorway, ruby blood pooling around her. We stand up in shock and start dispersing around the room.

Apparently, I wasn’t specific enough with my earlier prayer. Panic kneads itself through my chest, and causes it to tremor.

Someone grabs my feet and yanks them from under me just as shots are fired into windows of the classroom, and a man walks in.

I throw up my arms to keep my face from hitting the tile.

“Irena Brodsky?” a heavily accented, male voice speaks from the doorway.

Whispers current through my classmates, and the blood rushes to heat my face..


  1. The present tense didn't bother me, but didn't really help either. I'd keep reading this for at least a few pages. I had a little trouble believing that, after hearing gunshots and seeing the teacher fall the students would "disperse" around the room. I also did a doubletake at "panic kneads itself through my chest and causes it to tremor." Couldn't really picture that.
    But, it's got the flavor of a kid writing, which makes it seem real, so I'd keep reading.

  2. I'd probably keep reading because I want to know who the man is and why he shot the teacher. At the same time, I'd be reading with provisos. The way the kids reacted to their teacher being shot didn't seem quite right. The MC also seems a bit cavalier about the whole thing with the comment about it being her prayer that caused it. I'd need to feel that there was a proper motivation for this in the next couple of pages to convince me to read the whole book.

  3. I would most likely continue reading, but I think that a more active narration here would help - some panic, people milling around, the main character freaking out. This is pretty terrifying and it feels a bit distant at this point.

    It did grab me as a plot, though - I would want to know what was going to happen.

  4. Pretty gripping. But some of the word choices were so off the wall they popped me out of the story--like "disperse." I don't think these kids would "disperse." And "Panic kneads itself in my chest."

  5. I like the concept, and would possibly read a few more pages, but I need it to read more real. Disperse is definately not the best word choice, I would lean more toward running, screaming, extreme mayhem.

  6. I know where this goes. (waves to a friend)

    As much as I adore the author I hate the tense!!!! And the author knows this and loves the tense so we could argue all day.

    Good action. terrible tense.

    (ducks friend hitting her)

  7. I would read on, becuase I want to know what's going to happen to Irena and why this guy with a gun has come for her. The first few paragraphs, though, seem slow. I'm not sure if it's the tense or something else but I think they need to move along quicker. Also, "Mrs. Sheedy's body crumbles..." Maybe you should have crumples instead...crumbles makes me think of something breaking to pieces.

    Emily H

  8. Some bits still feel rough and while the tense works okay, it's a maybe. On one hand, I like the kaboom-ness. ;) But the voice doesn't really grab me. I like the tension but it's not quite as hooky as I'd like.

    Good luck,


  9. Is this really general fic rather than YA? that'd be my first question. I'd echo the "disperse" and "panic kneads" comments above and add "whispers current." I'd like to see a more active numbly-horrified reaction. Right now I wouldn't say I'm hooked, though there's a whiz-bang undercurrent here that, further developed, could be compelling.

  10. As it stands, no. I agree with most of the comments so far. The tense isn't too distracting, but the description feels overdone in several spots. With a little more editing, I might be convinced to read more.

  11. I'm hooked. I know where this is going, but even so, the sudden appearance of gunmen in a high school classroom would catch me. You do slip on the tense in the first paragraph, though. I love ya and all, but I don't know about keeping up that tense through the whole book.

  12. Agree with above - lots of potential, but needs some polish :)

  13. Would be somewhat hooked if it weren't for the tense. If you changed the tense and polished it up a bit, I would read on :) But right now, as it is, I'm not 100% hooked.

  14. I'm definitely hooked on the story but feel like the text still needs some polishing before it's top quality.

  15. Mildly hooked.

    I would like to know what's going on (I assume the dude is looking for the MC). I really don't like first-person present-tense, so it'd be jarring to read. I feel the MC emphasizes what everyone else is doing more than what she's doing, and by the time the action starts I don't have a good read on the MC's reaction.

  16. I know where this is going and the story is worth working on, but needs a fair polish to reach its fullest potential. Good luck.

  17. Maybe.

    I still feel a disconnect from Irena here. I think it needs a little more editing.

    One thing that popped out at me in the first paragraph -

    "I am doodling on my desk and praying for something"

    could be -

    "I doodle on my desk and pray for something - anything - to make the hour...

  18. Yeah, try feeling panic when the gunshot goes off. There's no screaming, no running or prayers heard here. Nothing to indicate someone's been killed and the gunman wants a student - our heroine. If you need a reference, try looking up memoirs from the Columbine shootings. They'll be very heartfelt and should help you find the right emotional touch. (My apologies if that sounds insensitive. It's not meant as such.)