Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #11

GENRE: YA Soft SF/Paranormal

Christian Lewis took his final steps off German soil with immense trepidation. He was leaving against his very will. His body moved. His mind yelled at him to stop.

Air whisked around Christian's body. He stood in the small opening between the entry door and the boarding onramp to the plane. He only realized he had come to a full stop when his sister pushed him forward.

"You're going to have to get on eventually," Laura said.

Laura was younger than Christian by three years. How could she have taken the transfer better than him? Maybe her lack of life-shattering experiences made her blind to the scars these transfers created.

She's still young, he thought, depressed. He decided to ignore Laura the rest of the flight.

A stewardess, with fake platinum-blond hair and an even faker smile greeted Christian, urging him to board. Since he couldn't stand there for long without looking like an idiot, he boarded. When a different stewardess, this one streaked with an unnatural tan, brought the last batch of flight crackers (sixteen hours later) Christian thought of lunging in front of her cart.

He could do it before his dad saw him. Maybe he could hide in the bathroom until the flight ended; leave the airport without anyone ever knowing; never to be heard from again. Of course he was too chicken to do anything so dramatic. Christian's father, the Major, would catch him and then he would pay a horrible price.


  1. interesting... just a little copyediting notes--"on" German soil; don't need "very" before will; maybe say, "His body moved, but his mind..."; ditch "boarding"; Laura was three years younger; "depressed" is dangling; omit comma before with fake... and "flight attendant" rather than stewardess maybe? unless this is historical...

    I wasn't quite sure where this was going. Of course, it's just 250 words. It's interesting, though.

    best of luck!

  2. I'm in. I love the title and the opening lines. Really drew me in. I love the promise of learning about the transfers and the scars they create and about his relationship with his dad.

    The paragraph about the stewardess was a bit awkward and left me wondering on the timing - in one sentence we seem to advance nearly a day.

    Overall, though, this seems to hold a lot of promise.

  3. I found this really intriguing.

    You are setting up an interesting scenario for the reader and you have some great descriptions. I'd just be a bit careful of overusing the adjectives. For example, I think you could probably get rid of 'immense' and 'very' in the first sentence. Perhaps you can show the extent of his trepidation through his actions.

    You have finished this piece off with a great hook for the reader.

  4. “Forget the flowers, just get to the dirt.”

    Or something like that.

    Another way to put it, get rid of ‘immense trepidation’ words. Say it plain, hook that reader so they cannot get away.

    Why a ‘full stop’ why not just a stop?

    At this point, no one cares about your protag and his sister. Gives us a reason to care.

    Trim sentences that make the reader stumble. “A stewardess with a fake smile greeted Christian and urged him to board.” I would cut the word “faker”.

  5. So keeping in mind this is only 250 words...

    There seems to be an overuse of adjectives - especially in the first sentence alone. As well, there are quite a few areas that can be tightened up (which could help word count too, if that's an issue at all?) - I think the first comment captured a lot of them, but another one was in the 6th paragraph:
    First sentence ends with "board" and the second sentence ends with "boarded" - which makes it sound repetitive. Maybe change the second one to "he moved forward to find his seat."

    Also - does he want to lunge in front of the cart because he's hungry and wants more crackers - or is he trying to hurt / kill himself?

    And not sure what "He could do it before his dad saw him." means? Do what? Needs just a little something more, so you can keep the reader informed.

    As well, it should be flight attendant and not stewardess (they dropped that name back in the 80's) - unless of course, your story takes place over 30 years ago.

    Overall, I wasn't so sure where this was going and I wasn't quite hooked by your MC (again, I know 250 words is hard to capture, but there should still be something more). It needs something that can grab you right off the bat and I think that would not only make it interesting, but make this a page turner.

    Great title, though. And after looking at everyone's comments, it's mostly the same thing - and easy fixes, too! Best of luck in the contest!

  6. The writing felt a little bit purple to me. "against his very will" and "life-shattering experiences" and "pay a horrible price" felt kind of heavy-handed.

    I'd try to lighten the writing a bit.

  7. I like the reluctance to leave German soil. Good details there. And I generally like what's going on, actionwise. The one suggestion I have to make it stronger /one thing that keeps me from liking it more is that I feel somewhat removed from the character. I feel like you, the author, are telling me all about him, but I'm not inside his head at all. (And no, you don't have to switch to first person to be inside a character's head.) Frex, his mind yelled at him to stop. Why not show that with thought, instead? The line about the air whisking around his body seems to be from outside him, too. Would you really feel it around your whole body? Or somewhere more detailed, like across your face, or over your arms? Small things like that could pull the reader deeper into Christian's head and make him more sympathetic.

    As far as what's going on, though, I'd read on to find out!

  8. I'm intrigued by Christian and his fear of his father, his obvious fear of taking chances, and even his envy of his sister's bravery. There's something that's world-weary about him, and that's certainly interesting.

    But the writing is rather clunky for me, and I think this is a pacing issue. We spend a lot of time (well, a lot of time for a 250 word excerpt), waiting for Christian to stop dallying and board the plane, but then the scene makes a sudden jump from the beginning of the flight to the end.

    Additionally, at first I was confused about why Christian wanted to lunge in front of the snack cart. What would that accomplish? It seems that lunging in front of the cart would not help him hide or escape (as Christian wished it would do), but would attract unnecessary attention to him instead.

    Christian's a troubled character, so I would probably read on to find out more about his predicament, but I'm concerned about pacing and placement of details in this piece.

  9. The beginning of this seemed overly dramatic, considering we find out a couple paragraphs later he's just getting on a plane. Remember, your reader doesn't know your character or his history, so "immense trepidation", "leaving against his very will", and "his mind yelled at him to stop" all come off as melodramatic.

    I'm not saying we need his entire life history right from the start, but instead of cryptic hints like transfers and life-shattering experiences, why don't you give the reader a couple of concrete examples of what's happened?