Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #1

TITLE: The Force Contained
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

The door clicked to a close vacuuming out all noise so the only sounds were the heart and breathing monitors beeping and humming in rhythm. A bulb in the florescent light above flickered on and off casting strange shapes and shadows around the room. I turned back to see Mom outside the door talking to an ICU doctor. The kind that looked like nothing would or could bother him. I listened to his careless voice explaining the situation to her and I fought the urge to rush back out the door and deck him. How was it so easy for him to explain death? After all, this wasn't just anyone dying.

I looked back to Mom and a pain surged through me until it settled deep in the pit of my stomach. She was tough, like chop the head off a snake without so much as a scream tough. But here, now, she looked--broken. I watched as doctor jerk spoke again. Mom nodded as she raised a shaking hand to her mouth, and even at sixteen, I knew what it meant.

I swallowed hard and looked over to the hospital bed. The light crackled above as a rumbling of thunder echoed outside the hospital room window. A chill moved down my spine. Every sound, so quiet before, now shouted at the silence - the hum of the monitors, the air conditioner clicking on, even my own breathing. Everything felt alive and active--except Dad.


  1. I found the scenerio (sp) interesting and would probably read on. It appears relatable. I wish though that you could drag out the moment, maybe some more show. Show mom reacting to the doc and the doc acting the way you tell us they act. But most important I would like to see more reaction of the MC :-)

  2. I'm hooked.
    Loved the bit where the character is observing his/her mother and feeling her pain, and the 'chop the head off a snake' line. Great work.
    Really felt for the MC and would love to know more.

    Good luck!

  3. I really liked the first sentance and the use of the word "vacuum." I am half-hooked. I agree though that I would like more telling, or even just more of a reaction from the MC. I wanted to know more about her. I would read on, though.

  4. I'm not quite hooked because I'm a little confused on the setting. I infer there's a window in the door, though that isn't clear, but how can you listen to the conversation if the door shut so tight it vacuumed out all noise? I also don't get the lights flickering in a high-tech hospital. I was kind of hoping for some kind of exotic setting where the electricity is erratic, but instead we have air conditioning and an ICU doctor.

    The last paragraph with all the noise seems inconsistent with the first. I just found this too hard to follow to keep reading.

  5. I'm going to disagree a bit and say I'm not hooked. I've read a lot of hospital openings (especially on this site), and this one doesn't give us anything out of the ordinary.

    Also, some of the punctuation (or lack thereof) tripped me up. I'd add commas before "vacuuming" in the first sentence and "casting" in the second. And I'd hyphenate the phrase "chop the head off a snake without so much as a scream" in the second paragraph.

    Finally, you might want to keep an eye out for unnecessary stage directions, things like "I turned back to see Mom," "I looked back to Mom," and "looked over to the hospital bed." I'm not saying all of them are unnecessary, just that they might be. To some extent, you can trust the reader to know which way the narrator is turning and where he/she is looking.

    Best of luck.

  6. I would have liked to get more of the mother's reaction to the 'bad' news. Also, I had the impression the MC was dying because she/he was so focused on the mother before returning his/her attention to the actual person dying. A few commas are missing, but all in all I'd keep reading to find out what happens next.

  7. I'm not hooked with this, but there are hints that some revision would make it pop more. The first paragraph really tells us nothing interesting or out of the ordinary.

    I'd start with your second paragraph - it's here that we really start to see the MC's personality and voice. This is where you started to get me, but then you go back to more description of the hospital, sans MC voice.

    I think your MC is interesting and would love to see more of him/her even in the descriptions. I'd read a little more to see if that voice comes through.

  8. I liked it. For the first while I actually thought it was her dying. Nice job with that. I would definatly read on, it sounds intruging.

  9. I love some of the descriptions--particularly that mom was "chop the head of a snake" tough. That gives nice insight into the narrator and how (she? he?) sees the world. However, as others already indicated, there was a lot of telling and not a lot of showing here, and while some of the details were quite vivid, I worry that they're also a bit overdone; they get in the way of the story's forward movement.

    I would read more to get a sense of where the story is going and to try and get to know the narrator better--seems like this narrator has an interesting way of seeing the world.

  10. I think your MC has an interesting voice - when we hear it. There's a little too much telling in this for my taste, and I think you can tighten up the writing in a number of places (as mentioned by other commenters).

    I am intrigued by the situation, and I am curious as to why the MC's father is dying, and what will happen next.

    As written, I doubt I would read on, but with some editing and moving from telling to showing, I would certainly give it another chance.

  11. Interesting premise, but when editing more commas need to be added in several places to slow down the pacing a little.

  12. I liked this because we can empathize right away with the MC.
    Apart from the commas missing and the other suggestions, I'd like to "hear" what the doctor said, as in dialogue :D
    HTH, and thx for sharing! :D

  13. I have a hard time connecting with this story. I know the suspense is here, but I didn't get it. Perhaps you could vary your sentences to show the tension of the MC.

  14. I like the chop the head off a snake tough line, too. More of that voice, please! Especially at the very beginning.

  15. I'm hooked.

    That said - the overall feel of the opening is flashback. I'd suggest making it more immediate, more urgent, by getting rid of the "telling" and "showing" instead. Also, there's quite a few places where punctuation (mostly commas) is missing.

    Good job, overall! I'd definitely want to read more.

  16. I think if you snip out a few extra words, the vivid details would shine more clearly. Frex:

    "The door clicked close, vacuuming out all noise besides the beep and the hum of the monitors."

    Also, take care about unintended melodrama. Is the rumbling thunder crucial to the story? If it is, then okay, but if not, consider cutting it, because it's cliche.

    You have a lot of beautiful images here.

  17. I really like the way you have established the setting with some great descriptions.

    I wanted to get a stronger sense of the character. Doctor Jerk gave me a sense of 'attitude' which was great...but I didn't get this from the rest of the piece.