Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #9

TITLE: Voices in the Dark
GENRE: YA Historical

Hawthorne sat beside his father as Reverend Logan droned on about peace and brotherhood. The Church of the Risen Christ was packed, despite the heat. Men and boys in dark suits and crew cuts, and girls and women in pastel dresses, pill-box hats, and dainty white gloves all sat waving hymnals past their pink and sweating faces. A large ceiling fan spun lazily, wafting occasional gusts of scented hair spray, aftershave, and perfume throughout the church.

"If you will all turn to page eighty-three in your hymnals," Reverend Logan said.

The fanning stopped and pages fluttered. The congregation rose to their feet. Mrs. Parson's fingers tapped on the organ keys and voices rose, out of tune and uninspired, as though their thoughts were elsewhere, perhaps on returning home to their cooling fans, their TVs and Barco-loungers, to a cold glass of lemonade or a chilled can of beer.

Hawthorne swiped at a trickle of sweat dripping down the side of his face as a fat, lazy fly buzzed by his nose. He waved a hand at it, shooing it away, and it foundered between Mr. and Mrs. Gates in the pew in front of him. The fly settled on the back of Mr. Gates' neck and rubbed its hairy legs together as if praying. Mr. Gates twitched once, twice, then reached back and smacked the fly dead.

Hawthorne jumped, and an image of a broken, battered body flashed in his mind.

I didn't kill him. I didn't.


  1. That last sentence or two is definitely a forced hook -- it doesn't flow naturally from the rest.

    And there's really nothing hookish about being in church, either. I wouldn't keep reading.

  2. I like your ending sentences and the imagery is nicely done.

    I think maybe there is a bit too much of the discription, or maybe just a lack of tension. If you add subtle tension, your hook lines won't be so jarring.

  3. The last three sentences were great. The rest of them dragged. You could delete the second and third paragraphs without losing anything, and still get the nice contrast between boring church service and (maybe) murder.

  4. I'm hooked. Fantastic description that sets the era right away. So vivid (you really touched on all the senses) that it didn't feel like a slow start to me. I was right there in the sweltering church with Hawthorne, so the last few sentences jumped out as a great contrast.

  5. I love this. The peaceful, quiet service contrasts nicely with the hook at the end. Marvelous! I'd keep reading to see where this goes.

  6. I personally liked the ending sentences. I thought the irony of it happening in a church service was interesting. You could always eliminate the first paragraph and get to the hook sooner, but the writing is very nice!

  7. I enjoyed the description of the beginning. The hook line was jarring, which I think was the intention, but it yanked me out of the story. That said, I would keep reading to find out who he didn't kill.

  8. I have an over active imagination. Hawthorne could have been thinking about the poor fly. The jokes on us. I'd read on, just to find out, what was wrong with Hawthorne whether it was the fly or a person.

    I'd be interested to see what the secret agent says about all the jarring comments, whether it's good or bad technique, or too early to tell.

    Since I don't know, I'll just say the creative soul on me is on your side. I enjoyed the entire piece on an intuitive level.

  9. This is really good on a sentence level, but it lacks tension until the very end. The hook seems disjointed- it's a big jump from the third to last paragraph to the next one.

    This has potential- if you can amp the tension and make a more natural bridge to the hook.

  10. The writing is excellent, but if I picked it up in a bookstore, I wouldn't buy it based on the first 250. The description is so well written that it makes me uncomfortable, just like Hawthorne. I would also rather be watching TV in my Barco-lounger. Maybe get to the action quicker, or find a way to work in more voice/thoughts?

    Dr. Krog

  11. I like the tone- very visual- especially the fly that "prays" before being smacked dead. Good start.

  12. So I think the writing here definitely shows potential. You've crafted some nice sentences and descriptions.

    Ultimately, I think this is just a little too slow. You spend a little too long on the different people there the dark suits and cre cuts the pastel dresses and pill box hats and adainty white gloves...I jsut was sort of like get on with it already.

    I don't see how knowing they are on p. 83 adds anything.

    I thought the fly and then the dead body was ok. I just didn't love it but I didn't hate it. This could just be a case of wrong agent for this.

  13. Thanks everyone, and SA, for taking the time to read and comment. Your thoughts and comments are appreciated!

    And thanks, Authoress, for your time and the opportunity! Best of luck to everyone, and keep writing!