Wednesday, March 18, 2009

18 Secret Agent

TITLE: Mendelve's Daughter
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense

Rivulets ran down my sagging breasts, formed into spouts of water at the nipples, and splashed into the crook of my toes. Steam rose in the air, and grew thick. I closed my eyes, ducking my face under the hot shower, and opened my mouth to breathe. Water gushed across my tongue, the metallic taste pleasant. My body sweated while a touch of nausea floated within a comfort zone. I opened my eyes, and turned to let hot water pour over my back until it burned; pleasure tingled my skin. I rotated until the heat became too much, then clasped the knob, and cranked the faucet off. The aged pipes rattled, grumbling resistance with a final contemptuous clunk. I breathed, afraid the noise might wake Daniel and touched my cheek where a three day bruise was turning brown.

“Don’t wake him,” I whispered to the pipes. “Ouch.”

The scab on my busted lip felt enormous to my tongue but barely showed in the mirror.

“Visible like a red nose,” a voice in my head vied for my attention.

I ignored myself, sniffing the air, my sense of smell renewed by soap and water. These scents milled with the odor of roach spray. The pealing linoleum underfoot made my skin crawl. I hurried out of the bathroom and stopped. My wet feet dried on 1960’s shag, once yellow, now a special crappy brown. I hated walking bare foot in it. Daniel knew that, so he had locked my slippers in his office with the car keys and my purse.


  1. Wow- what an interesting begining. It may be a bit out of my genre but I think the writing is certainly descriptive and you've painted a clear picture of what this character is up against. Good writing and good luck!

  2. Agree with first - your writing is very descriptive and I am immediately sorry for your narrator. I can feel her pain. Well written.

  3. I thought the writing in the first paragraph was very good, but I wondered if we really need this much description of the narrator showering. I mean, when I'm showering I am not thinking about water running on various parts of me. Also, it seemed like she was enjoying the shower quite a bit, but then we find out she's basically being kept and abused by this guy (at least that is what I assumed). I thought perhaps it would be better to start with her worry that the shower would wake him up - maybe describing what she does in the shower to keep quiet?

  4. Yes, hooked. I'd read on.

    Typo: "pealing linoleum" should be "peeling linoleum" ;)

  5. Would I read more?? Definitely.

    Very good writing.

    I agree that there is too much 'shower' description in the first paragraph. Still, that aside, I'd definitely keep reading.

  6. Some of the images aren't clear to me. For example, when you duck your face under a hot shower, you aren't going to open your mouth to breathe. Also, I'm not really sure how nausea can float within a comfort zone. And then other images are too clear. "I rotated until the heat became too much, then clasped the knob, and cranked the faucet off."

    I just think this neads focus. Writing is so much about knowing what details to leave out and what to keep. She's burning herself clean. There's a three day old bruise on her cheek. She's a hostage in her own home. That seems to be what's important here.

  7. There is only the barest hint of an interesting premise -- not enough to keep me reading unless there was a really strong blurb promising a great story. The writing needs to be polished -- this is a case where writing might stop me from reading on.

    I think the way you've handled the internal monologue is a bit awkward.

    "Peeling" instead of "pealing".

    Can she identify 1960s shag? Can I? Just keep it at "shag" or 'filthy shag' and you've succeeded in giving me the right mental image.

    I personally hate the word 'rivulets' -- it feels too contrived and writerly. When I read it, the word takes me right out of the story and makes me think of the writer. I don't think that is a good thing.

    Her senses seem jumbled and contradictory -- nausea, pleasure, the metallic taste of water (?) pleasant -- to me, if the water tastes metallic, I think it might be contaminated.

    She's bruised and hurt and I sense that she is Daniel's captive, yet I don't get a sense of panic from her.

  8. I think there are a lot of conflicting emotions here.
    1. Pleasant taste of water
    2. Nausea in a comfort zone (???)
    3. Turns the water too hot
    4. Pleasure tingled in her skin
    5. Afraid the noise might wake Daniel
    6. A whispered plea
    7. PeEling linoleum makes her skin crawl
    8. Hated walking on the carpet

    Okay, this all seems contrived. It's like you're trying too hard to put in emotions, but they're all over the place. I'd either like to be really close to this MC, her fear and panic and maybe anger? at Daniel and possibly upsetting him. Or I'd like to be really distant from her, like she's so beaten down that she doesn't really have much emotion left to show. Does that make sense? But this all over the place isn't really working for me.

    That being said, I'd definitely read on to find out how she's going to get away from Daniel.

  9. Too many confused sensations in the first paragraph for me. Sorry. I was waiting for the knife through the shower curtain a la Psycho.

  10. It sounds like a really interesting concept, and you did a good job at creating a creepy atmostphere, but there was a little too much description for me in the first paragraph. Basically, if you could cut it down a bit, the hook at the end of the para would really stand out.

    I'd read on though, just to see what happens!

  11. Author Here: I wanted to thank everyone for your comments and add one of my. You've only 250 words, and it's not enough to learn Joyce isn't not running away, but chasing a serial killer. Daniel will do anything to stop her because he's been working for the man who kidnapped their daughter.(the killers grandfather) Right now all Joyce knows is her husband of 17 years has started hitting her and a serial killer claims to know where her daughter is.(This much is dealt with within the first pages)

    I've struggled with the abuse-its a heavy topic and hard to balance without overwhelming the rest of the story. Unfortunately its necessary and cannot be written out. I have a lot to think about and this just maybe something I have to shelve, until I have more skill and am able to write it better. Anyway thanks for your input. You've all been very helpful.

  12. The last paragraph hooked me, but not the rest. You spend a full 138 words describing a shower. That didn’t really hook me, as nothing unusual or suspenseful happened in the shower. I think if you just mentioned the MC coming out of the bathroom, and leading into the part about her locked up slippers, purse, and keys, it would be a much stronger opening.

  13. Great description, but I did think that the first para went on a bit too long. I liked that last one very much (nb 'peeling', though).

  14. I couldn't read this to the end. As soon as I realized what it was about I stopped. It's nothing personal. I like the narrative flow and the voice. It's just that yesterday an abusive father killed his wife, his son and two of his step-children plus a friend of his son just 10 miles from my home (and we are living in a very, very rural area). So I just couldn't read on.

  15. I agree about the length of time spent on the shower, and, ultimately, about the discomfort about reading about the abuse (and the conflicting emotions that come from being abused by someone you love). This scene could actually be stretched out considerably, bringing in background, and it might make the bruising/busted lip more bearable to read. Also, I find that it is rare to find a successful novel with even a disingenuously sensual description of breasts in paragraph 1. This isn't ready, even if it does have an interesting premise. It just shouldn't become a series of too-vivid abuse scenes. That becomes gratuitous.


  16. If you opened with "I opened my eyes and turned...." that would do it nicely. The first part of the paragraph is a little much, plus, I can't get the picture out of my mind of a female statue with water squirting from the pointed breasts.

    That would give you more words to use to explain her predicament. For someone who expects to get beat up, she seems to be taking it as par for the course. I don't understand.

    The voice in her head vies for attention? Her thoughts on whatever subject will hold her attention, don't you think? Maybe you can say it differently?

    Sorry, there isn't enough here for me to make a judgement whether to continue.

  17. Your main character's daughter has been kidnapped? I think that is where you need to start not with the abuse. If my daughter was kidnapped my every thought would drift to her. I definately couldn't go through an entire shower without thinking of her at least once.

    Also, why is she showering in the first place? If she is trying to sneak away from her husband to find the serial killer who claims to know where her daughter is, why would she shower? Is being clean really important at that moment?

    Hope this helps.

  18. I actually kind of liked the slow lead in, it made the abuse angle catch my interest because it seemed a little incongruous. Based on this 250 words, I'd totally want to read this book.

    However, having read the comment about what the novel is actually about, I don't think I'd keep reading. Seems like for what the plot is, this isn't the right tone/place to start in my opinion.