Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #12

GENRE: Contemporary Christian

Tanner's watch beeped a quiet but insistent warning. With the many countdown clocks gracing the walls of the Genetics Research Institute his own watch was unnecessary, but Tanner liked the certainty of the weight on his wrist. With less than ten minutes to go he felt the pressure settling on his shoulders like a heavy woollen coat and enjoyed the familiar sensation. Tanner was glad to be out of the harsh light of television cameras and back in the shadows of his laboratory on the one hundred and eighty-third floor of The Tower. The large PR department of the Institute had created a media monster leading up to the commencement of the project that Tanner would have been happier without. He may as well get used to the attention, however. After today his name was going to be unforgettable. Checking his watch again out of habit, Tanner surveyed his laboratory ticking off each piece of equipment in his mind. Everything was perfect. The eggs had been harvested from the donor surrogate and were being washed by his assistant, Maggie. The genetically modified sperm were already in the incubator, happily resting in a Petri dish, just waiting for his attention. Tanner was confident nothing would go wrong. The entire process had been rehearsed and rehearsed again over the months leading up to the final countdown. The adjoining specimen room housed shelves of successful embryos at various stages of development, clear evidence the technique of genome substitution worked.



  1. I like the writing here and that the clock is ticking toward something.

    To make this better, many more paragraphs are needed. Otherwise, the text becomes an eye sore. I'm also not sure the ticking clock creates enough tension. You've painted a picture of a man who’s confident that everything will go right, so the clock isn't a big disturbance.

    Maybe consider jumping ahead to when the clock hits zero?

    Thank you for sharing your work!

  2. Good job arousing my curiosity. The single paragraph is a problem, but I assume you just had difficulty formatting it properly.

    However,if the adjoining room already has shelves of successful embryos, why should we be concerned with this one, which seems to be routine?

    I don't know what genome substitution is; you'd need to explain this for readers such as me.


  3. I liked the line about how he likes the tension settling on him: It reveals his character. I find a littel too much exposition, though. I'd cut-cut-cut, and rush on until he's actually doing something.
    Also curious as to why this fertilization is so important, if we know the process works.

  4. I'd read on to see what he was creating, but that answer might determine how much farther I'd read.

  5. I saw that one big block of writing and groaned. But - surprise, surprise - I liked it!

    I thought Tanner liking the certainty of weight on his wrist and pressure on his shoulders said a lot about the kind of person he is. And I'm wondering why what he's just done, or is about to do, is such a big deal, because he seems to have done it before.

    On the flip side, it is a bit wordy and a lot could be cut without losing anything. And while I'm feeling anticipation, I'm not feeling any tension. There are no doubts in Tanner's mind, and I think I, as a reader, need those doubts to be there so I can anticipate what failure means and know what is at stake for Tanner. That's what draws me in and keeps me reading.

  6. Thanks for the feedback. I promise there were paragraphs in my entry (in plain text) but somehow they obviously got cut in the transfer :(

    Really appreciate the critiques.

  7. I actually liked this one so much that I only have nit-picky recommendations.

    "the familiar sensation" - I would just say "it" here. I think we get the idea that this a guy accustomed to pressure.

    "shadows of his laboratory" - The dichotomy works well, but wouldn't most laboratories be well-lit?

    "The large PR department of the Institute had created a media monster leading up to the commencement of the project that Tanner would have been happier without. He may as well get used to the attention, however." - Might be too much of an info-dump so early in the story. I think we get that there's something important happening with the cameras and that he doesn't like the media attention with the earlier sentences. Wow, I hate when I go into nit-picky mode. But it's really is better not to have anything on the first page that isn't absolutely necessary, and I think that this is a story that has the potential of grabbing the audience with the first few paragraphs.

    "out of habit" - It's pretty clear without this.

    And that's where the nit-pickiness ends. Everything else is perfect.

  8. There are some great descriptions in this piece and I really like the character traits you have shown like "Tanner liked the certainty of the weight on his wrist"

    There is something about his character that is appealing, I feel as if I know him already.

    There were just a couple of little things. I was a little confused about him feeling pressure and then in the next bit being glad to be out of the harsh light. I thought that maybe he would be feeling excited anticipation or something similar - he seems to have too much confidence in his project to feel pressure.

    The only other minor comment I had was regarding the sentence about the PR department seemed a little unclear. I'm wondering if it would be clearer if you said something like "Tanner would have been happier without the media monster the PR department had created in the lead up to the project."

    I think this piece is off to a great start and I am totally intrigued about what kind of embryos they are.

  9. The problem with this scene, for me, is that everything seems to be going to according to plan. Much better would be to begin when things begin to go wrong, or we begin to see cracks in Tanner’s composure. I admit that awkward sentences like this one are a turn off for me, especially so early in the story: “The large PR department of the Institute had created a media monster leading up to the commencement of the project that Tanner would have been happier without.” I wasn’t hooked.

  10. we need some white space here. break up the long block of text.

    this is not my genre so that's all the stuff i have to offer