Wednesday, January 13, 2010

47 Secret Agent


Eden watched the child in her scope, her finger poised on the trigger. The young ones were the hardest but she couldn’t be squeamish. Besides, this thing wasn’t a child anymore and, judging from the dried blood on its hands and face, it had killed since it turned. As she watched, the creature that used to be a little girl turned toward her team, its mouth gaping.

She let her breath out slowly, steadying her body as she lined up a perfect head shot through a gap in the trees. The slightest brushing of the trigger and the infected child was gone. There were still five creatures lurching about but none of them were children. She took out a male, its clothing torn and bloodied, before it got within reach of Jordan. Eden’s sister didn’t so much as pause; Jordan’s blackened sword cleaved the heads from two of the infecteds’ shoulders. Next to her, Oz shot a zombie running full-out and Taro flowed over the last one, killing it in the blink of an eye. By the time Eden tore her gaze away to scan the clearing, paying careful attention to anything moving in the thick foliage, it was over.

Bodies littered the ground in a rough circle around her sister, Oz, and Taro. Eden took a deep breath as she let go of her gun and sat up. “It’s done.”

Kaede looked up from where she stood lower down the hill. “That was quick.”


  1. Great title. Great first line. It's not what you expect and told matter of factly.

    Personally, I'm not sure I would switch to creature. It puts a distancing in there that lessens your overall effect. You show there's a problem with this child and why it has to be killed.

    The cleaving the heads sentence is a bit awkward.

    Well done. I'd definitely read on.

  2. I agree this is intriguing and makes me want to know what's going on. I got confused by the line "Taro flowed over the last one"; not sure what that means. I also got lost in all of the names.

  3. Not bad but it seems very similar to the drop-the-needle entry you had a week or so ago.

    I wouldn't read on just because I don't like zombie stories (other than Generation Dead). And I'll admit, the concept never appealed to me when I read your query on you-know-where.

    The writing and voice is good. Nothing special. Nothing to set it apart from the other zombie stories out there, but it is a voice that I would read more of in a different story.

    Good luck with it!

  4. I'm not a huge zombie reader (though I will say I'm not anti-zombie anymore), but I'm intrigued by this. I think you were *trying* to show distance with the creature comment, but I'd cut the word and do more with the gaping mouth instead to show it more effectively. Wondering what Taro is based on his method of killing.

    Interesting. I'd keep reading.

  5. If zombies were my thing, I'm sure I'd be hooked. Your writing flows nicely, and I've already gotten a good sense of Eden.

    Two small suggestions: This sentence, "The slightest brushing of the trigger and the infected child was gone," seemed a bit clunkier than the others. Even "The slightest brush of the trigger..." might work better. But then, I don't really associate pulling a trigger with brushing it, so maybe another verb altogether? Anyway, just a thought.

    Secondly, I'd definitely call this a YA paranormal or YA urban fantasy, not just YA. Just so that an agent knows exactly what they're getting.

    (Word verification: hellita. No joke. Another title possibility for you, perhaps? :) )

  6. I hesitate to say this, but after the long buildup where Eden is psyching herself up to shoot the zombie, the actual kill is a non-event. By this I don't mean you should get into great detail, by any means--but what is her reaction? Does she feel regret? Or just relief? I understand it's an action moment, so you don't want too much introspection, but maybe a brief mention there.--Or else after, when all the killing is over. Nice first sentence. Tense setting.

  7. I tried to post a comment to this earlier, but it didn't go through. Just wanted to say that I liked this. Has a strong voice and the writing is clear. I liked the way I could see that the creatures were zombies before you used the actual word.

  8. Excellent first sentence! We know she's about to shoot a child and we want to know why!

  9. The first line is great and I like getting pulled into the action immediately. I'm a bit confused on Taro. I thought it was some kind of liquid because Oz shot the zombie and then Taro 'flowed over the last one,' but as I read it became apparent Taro was a person. Good action opening! I'd read more!

  10. Great first line. I agree with Secret Agent that I want to know how Eden feels when she shoots the "child". Disgust? I also want to know what the other zombies look like– who's charging Oz? Big man or frumpy housewife? This opening is intriguing. I'd read more.

  11. Great first line, but the action was lackluster. Tell me more about these kills. Where do the bullets hit? What does it look like? I need more than just "she took out a male" or "the child was gone."

  12. Love the title and I was greatly enjoying it, the tension, the conflict for Eden, the zombies, the voice--till here....

    "Eden’s sister didn’t so much as pause; Jordan’s blackened sword cleaved the heads from two of the infecteds’ shoulders. Next to her, Oz"

    I had a wtf moment and had to backtrack to see where Eden's sister and Oz and all these other names were mentioned before this point. Turned out, they weren't mentioned to now, although the prose acts like they were. That threw me out of the story.


  13. It's interesting how emotionless Eden is as she makes these kills. I don't usually read this type of story, but I think I'd turn the page -- squeamishly, though. ;) Nice language overall, especially in the first paragraph.

  14. The action in this felt a little...I dunno...empty to me. Your main character sounds really detached from what's going on around her -- not even nonchalant about it, but removed. As if she's underwater as the scene plays out or something.

    But I did find that sort of style interesting in terms of describing a war, so I guess you've got me intrigued.

  15. I'm not sure why, but this read a bit choppy to me. Somewhere in the second paragraph I got a bit lost. Perhaps it was the introduction of so many characters.

  16. I don't usually like reading about zombies, but this was well written and had an interesting hook.

    In the first paragraph, maybe add a description of the eyes of the child as well as the gaping.

  17. "The slightest brushing of the trigger and the infected child was gone."

    When I was reading the first half of this sentence it seemed abstract rather than an action. I had to read it again to realise she had actually brushed the trigger. Something like "Eden brushed the trigger slightly..." would make it clear what was happening.

    To be honest, this on its own doesn't really hook me. They're facing threat from zombies, the threat is resolved. There's no hook to read on. If it was paired with a query letter, or a back-cover blurb, that might change my mind because I like the voice.

  18. Zombies kind of squick me, but I think that I'd keep reading. I really liked the voice and even though all the names are a little much in this short piece, I still wasn't turned off completely.

    I think the first sentence was really the thing that sucked me in. Because I immediately wondered 'This is YA! Why is someone about to shoot a kid?'"

    Nice work! Good luck.