Wednesday, March 18, 2009

28 Secret Agent

TITLE: Design Flaw
GENRE: Suspense

Damn them. Damn them all!

Bingham had been such a pain in the a** when he’d been alive. Always getting the accolades. Always getting the recognition that should have been his. Now they were following in his footsteps. Look at the colors, the combinations! Just like the ones he was going to draw up. His ideas. Not theirs. His! The flow. The simplicity. Like the designs he’d been planning. Thieves. Just like their father.

He’d taken it for season after blasted season. This time it would be different. It was time for him to take center stage. The world would soon know his name. And Bingham’s would be dead.

Hands trembling, he ripped through the stylish letters on the pamphlet. Take a Sneak Peek. Sneak Peek be damned! He didn’t need a sneak peek to see his own ideas. He ripped strip after strip after strip off the pamphlet, but the rage didn’t abate.

He stalked to the fireplace, took out a burning brand, returned to the table, and lit each little pile. Six flames shot up from the table. Six. A good number. A chuckle escaped as he closed his hand over the first flame, smothering it. "One down."

Oblivious to the pain and the smell, he repeated the motion with the second pyre. "Two." A rolling laugh burst from him. "Four to go. Who will be next?"


  1. The character's emotion comes through well, but I'd really like to know his name. I'm a fast (okay, not so attentive...) reader sometimes, and I was confused, thinking he was Bingham for a second.

  2. I love the tension in this opening and the kind of manic craziness of the narrator. I'd for sure settle in and be looking forward to reading what crazy thing the guy will do next--I'm assuming he's the bad guy?

    I agree with puzzlehouse that--especially in the first paragraph--when you're only using "him" and "his" it's hard to tell whether you're talking about the narrator or Bingham. That threw me for a minute before I elbowed past it and began to get the picture of what was happening.

    But overall, this is really good stuff :)

  3. I, too, was totally confused by the first long paragraph there. I wasn't sure if this was Bingham's POV or someone else's. I was also confused by "Just like their father." Does that mean these guys are brothers? Bingham sounds like a last name to me so that makes this even more confusing.

    I think, with a little editing, you could rally start this with "He'd taken it for season after season."

    Also, I think you need to make it a little more clear what the "designs" are for. My first read-through I assumed it was architecture, but with the mention of "seasons" now I think it's fashion.

  4. I agree that "Bingham" (singular) doesn't mix with "they".

    The "ripped strip" alliteration detracts from the power of the repetition -- consider "tore" or another verb.

    "from the table" is redundant.

    The imagery of the hand over the flame makes it sound like the chuckle escaped from the flame, not from the character.

    The crazy is nice, though.

  5. I love the idea of starting from a maniac's point of view when he's really losing it, but this meanders a bit too much for me to be drawn in.

    I really think with just some trimming, this could work very well. I also think it could benefit by mentioning the pamphlet a little earlier to ground the reader in the scene better.

  6. Bingham is just one of those names which makes me automatically think BYU. :P

    Pushing that aside - I like this. What a crazy guy.

  7. I did exactly the same thing that puzzlehouse did ... the first time I read it I thought the MC was Bingham, since he's the only person mentioned by name here. When I read it the second time, I realized what was going on, but it was too late to hook me.

    The writing's good -- the obsession with the dead Bingham comes through pretty well. It's just hard to connect to your actual main character with so much focus on the late one.

  8. Very good! The MC's homicidal craziness comes through quite clearly.

    I did get tripped up with all the anonymous 'his' & 'him' & 'they' in the first para, though.

    Otherwise, hooked.

  9. I was not confused. I thought it was an excellent story, tension and full of emotion. I loved it.

  10. I'm afraid I'm another confused one. But the rage and emotion is clear, so good work there. I think it may just need a quick review of that 'Bingham' para.

  11. I'm not quite hooked yet. The vagueness works for the first few lines, but then gets a bit old as the section goes on. By the end, I wanted some additional concrete details to help set the scene in my head. I'd probably read on a bit to see where this is going, but the rest of the chapter would really have to hook me.

  12. I'd be hooked if I knew the guy's name. You must be withholding it for a reason.

    I'd like the pronouns to match up. First you're damning "them" then you go into Bingham getting the accolade and whatnot. Then "they" were following in his footsteps...I want to know who "they" are and how they connect to Bingham.

    I also think you could show me a little bit more about the pain and the smell when he's snuffing out the fire. It's too telling in that part. I want to be there with him, feeling the pain and smelling the smell. I think a bit more description there would help ground me in the setting.

    Good job. :)

  13. I am suspecting that this is another prologue. I can't imagine that you'd be able to write the whole (or most of the) novel from his POV. It would certainly be trying. I'd read on a bit to see where this is going but not for too long.

  14. Interesting start with a maniac's POV...might be hard (or not if the writer is a bit maniacal) to sustain this POV throughout a whole book! I'd read another page or two just to see where it's going.

  15. Interesting. Not sure I'd read on as I'm not hooked by the character. But I'd probably skip ahead a few pages to see what was going on and who the mc's were.

  16. I needed WAY more subtlety here. You can have a madman go insane without using old movie-villain lines. This guy was crazy, and maybe he had been driven to be that way; but it doesn't make him interesting.


  17. Aha! The Mad Hatter. This guy's crazy as a loon. Why do we care? I know it will all be made clear in time, but you'd do better to give us a clue what the story is about on the first page.

    You did a good job of revving up the tension here, and it's obvious he's a designer of some sort--aa well as out of his gourd. I see a good possibility that this could lead to a good story. Good luck with it.

  18. The pronouns and "just like their father" were a problem for me. I thought the mc came through well, but I am wondering if this is going to be another "eliminate all of my competition" crazy killer book. I'd read a few more pages because I liked the style, but if a plot twist didn't appear soon, I'd stop reading.