Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#10 January Secret Agent

TITLE: The Hercules Project
GENRE: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Superhero

It was still very dark when I jolted out of sleep. Dim light filtered into my room from the hall through the open door. I could just make out the blurry outline of my father, his face inches from mine. He was in the process of shaking me for the third or fourth time when I managed to croak that I was awake.

The surface of his glasses flashed in the low light as he leaned back. The more alert I became, the more detail I could make out and the more concerned I got.

"Dad." I used my crippled fingers to push at my covers and struggled to pull myself upright. "What's wrong?"

Instead of telling me anything, which was typical of my father, he got up and headed for my door.

"Get dressed, Wyatt," he said over his shoulder. "We don't have much time."

I glanced at the small digital affair on the dresser next to me. 2:12 AM. He wasn't serious. I considered snuggling back down under the warmth of my comforter. But, I knew if I did he would take me wherever we were going in my pajamas. I wasn't ready for that level of embarrassment, thanks.

I could hear him moving around downstairs and swore under my breath at him for not staying to help. Like he would ever think about anyone but himself.


  1. I think you have a bit too much more telling than you need. I would delete: "The more alert I became, the more detail I could make out and the more concerned I got." and also "which was typical of my father" because that would be typical for a lot of people.

    Although I really like the line: "He wasn't serious." I would add a bit more emotion. He seems pretty calm for someone who was just woken up in the middle of the night with no explanation (unless this is something he's used to).

    I know some people hate having a book begin with a character waking up, but it doesn't bother me.

  2. I struggle with the waking up thing, but this goes right into action which helps. There is quite a bit of telling and less showing. The idea that he'd even consider going back to sleep without any answers rings false to me. He asked what was wrong, he knows they have to leave in the middle of the night--I'd think he'd be full of adrenalin and on the verge of panic. Other than that, I'm intrigued to know where they are going and why.

  3. I think 'small digital affair' sounds weird - why not just say clock?

    Otherwise, it's intriguing, but I think you could tighten it up a bit - and as Jenn says, it seems odd (and makes it less exciting) that he'd consider going back to sleep.

  4. I liked this. An interesting opening with an immediate problem... but the end threw me off a bit. I wondered how old he was that he'd want his dad to stay and help him dress.

  5. I'm confused, but I would definitely read on.

    One thing: I wouldn't refer to the MC's fingers as crippled - it's likely not how the MC would be thinking of them, and of course Wyatt is using his fingers or hand to push his cover (so this seems inserted to tell us the fingers are damaged). Do this more naturally - something like I pushed at the covers, but my fused fingers ... or however they ARE crippled or damaged.

    Beck: I think he could use the help getting dressed because he's crippled; it's just not particularly clear how.

  6. Well, obviously there is tension, but not enough for me to be completely hooked and wondering what's going to happen next. Maybe give some sort of indication to that? Of course, it's only 250 words and it might be mentioned later on, but I think a slight hint as to what could possibly be wrong could feed my curiousity. :)

    Other than that, I felt the descriptions were a bit too familiar and I couldn't really get a feel for the character of Wyatt except that he was an average teenager.

    But anyways, good luck! :)

  7. So, I read this through a few times and from what I can see - Wyatt is disabled in some way. He struggles to get up and needs help getting dressed.

    Unfortunately, this major piece of information is hidden in your first 250 words when really, it should stand out. This is what makes Wyatt different. Don't be afraid to show this.

  8. I found the description of the light level a little too much - it's possibly too much. I didn't like 'digital affair' either - doesn't suit a teen. For some reason the line about embarrassment doesn't seem to sit right. It seems to be a completely different pace from the rest of it. It feels like an odd tangent.

    I'm keen to know what's happening. If you're MC is disabled- interesting!

  9. I love the idea of a disabled person having super powers, asuming that's what is happening here. Hard to tell with just one page, which I think is easy for people to expect too much from, like it's a query letter.

    Seems like maybe you could do more to show the MC is in fact disabled. Maybe the dad trips over a wheelchair or something. As others have said, a lot is told, rather than shown. Show me what the father's face looked like in the dim light. You can miss a lot of opportunities to evolve a character by not showing them.

    But you have a great premise, and I definitely want to know what the father's concern is and how the MC can help.

  10. I like the voice here and would definitely read on.

    I agree with what people have said about paring down ("which was typical of my father") and rephrasing ("crippled fingers" and "digital affair").

    As for the "crippled fingers", that seems like shorthand for telling us the state of the character. The "struggling" in the next sentence and the annoyance with the father not staying to help are more effective. They also set up, I assume, the scene that might follow of the MC getting out of bed, ready, and going downstairs, all of which should show us the MC's condition.

  11. Imagine you're woken up in the middle of the night to find someone shaking you. Are you noticing the dim light filtering through the hall? Or are you wondering what the heck is going on. You need some of that reality in your opening parg. and the whole piece as well.

    The entire thing is told in a careful matter-of-fact way. There's no tension or urgency, no sense of being there. His father tells him to get dressed in the middle of the night, and he wants to go back to bed? Wouldn't he wonder why? Wouldn't he try to find out why when Dad doesn't tell him?

    You have all the info here you need but I think perhaps you're not presenting it as well as you could. It needs some oomph. Save the description for a slow scene and try to include more of Wyatt and his emotions in here.

  12. Hey, Secret Agent here! Clear writing, a hook at the beginning: why are they leaving? What’s going on? There were a few moments when I was unclear as to what was going on. If someone’s in your face, you see their face first, maybe you even smell them on you, and maybe you don’t notice how the light is falling into the room from the hall first thing. The wording on the “Instead of telling me anything…” paragraph tripped me up. Is it typical for him to tell or NOT to tell?

  13. Thank you so much for all the great comments! Revising as we speak--love improving my work and this helps!

  14. This looks like an interesting premise for a book, but the opening seemed a little slow to me. I don't really feel Wyatt's concern. He tells us he's concerned, but we're not really inside his mind. I also feel like this could open in a more compelling place than the middle of the night.