Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #17

TITLE: Piercing the Darkness
GENRE: Futuristic Romance

Jupiter's sun, Section 10 had gotten something right. Considering their score was zero for five on good intel, accuracy on this particular mission was all the more impressive. From behind a battered wooden crate that smelled like moldy bread, Sidra eyed the reason for her current assignment. A rusty metal cage packed with children, boys and girls, of various ages on their way to new owners.

Not parents.


As in slavery, which, despite the practice being outlawed for centuries, continued to be too lucrative to stop. Her stomach knotted. She hated everything to do with slavery. The parents who sold their children, the Slavers and the buyers.

The Government that lined its own pockets so refused to halt the traffic.

Sidra shifted her weight to her toes, wincing when the muscles in her calves tightened and locked. Gritting her teeth against the cramping pain, she eased her way upward until she could see over the crate's top edge.

For the last hour, she'd seen only three drones. No echoing voices, footsteps or other noise hinted of more, but silence didn't mean the building was empty. Slavers had been known to leave quiescent drones behind, ready for activation with a keystroke.

Lucky for her, the warehouse wasn't full of crates or boxes. This meant there weren't many places a drone could hide. Unlucky for her, there weren't many places she could hide either.


  1. You’ve got good bones here. I like the opening, the idea of a narrator fighting against something she truly believes in. And the tension is pretty good, you’ve got a sense of atmosphere. I think you could improve it by tightening it up, condensing some of the ideas that are repeated. You’ve got “Owners” “As in Slavery,” I really don’t think you need that part and if you cut it I think it could really give the line “Owners” a punch.

  2. I agree with K.Trattner. I think this has great possibilities, but needs to be tightened in places. In the first paragraph, "children, boys and girls," could do without "children." The "As in slavery" feels redundant and you could rework that sentence to something like "Despite the practice being outlawed for centuries, slavery continued..."

    I don't think the sentence starting "The Government that" needs its own paragraph.

    Also, and this may be just me, but the first time reading this I thought Sidra was involved in the slave trade, but had moral problems with her line of work. Upon further reading, I interpreted the scene as her getting ready to rescue the kids.

    The first two sentences throw me off a bit. I don't know what "Jupiter's sun, Section 10" is. In the nest sentence, I think you're trying to say they've been wrong all five times they've provided Sidra with information before and I think there;s a better way to say that.

    This seems like an interesting start for a romance and I'd keep reading to see where you're going with this.

  3. I like this. You have a great voice. You have pulled me into the story and I am engaged with the heroine. I know that she cares and I know that she is a fighter.

    Well done.

    I would keep reading.

    Good luck.

  4. It took several reads for me to get that Jupiter's sun was like saying OMG! If I'm guessing correct, you may want to put the exclamation mark after sun.

    You might cut 'children' or 'boys and girls' from the first parg. You don't need both. And you say owners in that parg, so you don't need the "not parents. Owners." You're hitting us over the head with this, and it's easy enough to get without the hand holding.

    Perhaps cut pargs 2, 3, 4, and 5. It's all info the reader will get without you saying it. Plus, it stops the story. Sidra is no longer doing anything because she is stopping to explain to the reader.

    The first parg and the last two are your story.

  5. Thanks so much for the great suggestions. I haven't touched this one in a while and have hopes it will find a home. I'll definitely go in and take your great suggestions to tighten. Amazing what we don't see as writers, isn't it? This blog is great! Thanks!
    P.S. I didn't want to Anonymous but the darn system wouldn't let me put in author.

  6. I really liked this. I would definitely keep reading. Unlike some of the comments one of my favorite parts was- Not parents. Owners.

    The only line that tripped me up was "The Government that lined its pockets..." But that could just be me.

    Good job.

  7. I like the situation and character. The first line confused me but if Jupiter's Sun is an exclamation then the first line works for me. I do think this page could be tightened, but overall it drew me in.

  8. I also really liked the part where she said " Not parents. Owners." The voice is very strong and the premise sounds interesting. Although, I had no idea what "Jupiters sun" meant. And if Barbara is right, adding an exclamation after it would smooth over that issue. I'm a sap for romance novels and your beginning pulled me in.

  9. I'd drop the Jupiter's sun or at least move it, because it's confusing to start with it. Otherwise, I'm in.

    Okay, this is an awkward line:
    The Government that lined its own pockets so refused to halt the traffic.

    ... but your setup is so good that I'd forge right past and keep reading, eagerly.

  10. I, too, was confused about Jupiter's moon being an expression rather than a place so that made for a rocky start.

    I felt there was way too much narrative and explanation. Not very compelling to me front the get go.

    The writing is good. Maybe this just isn't my cup of tea.

  11. Even though the Secret Agent didn't care for the story (it's okay, not everyone likes futuristic), I want to say thank you, again, for all of the great comments and suggestions and I've definitely, fixed the whole Jupiter's sun thing. Thanks all!
    Sigh - and it still won't let me put a name.

  12. Author,

    I'm glad you're finding these suggestions helpful. The story is compelling, and I'd only echo the things duwarr and other commenters have pointed out. Sounds like you've already fixed those.

    I'd definitely read on to see if she's about to free these slaves!

    Best wishes to you!

  13. Sorry I'm so late commenting. I've (randomly) finished all the submissions (even had to take friday off). I felt a little lost but it tied together by the end of page 1, and that's doing something when you are world building, so congrats.

    Now I read the secret agent's comments and if you want to follow her path, maybe delay world building a little, keep (the last para) the warehouse, no where to hide for the possible drone or her, but she'd have to proceed because the slavers are doing horrible things. Then consider having her meet, talk to, and then defeat (through some trick) one of the drones, or narrowly escape. Better yet, what she needs is a sidekick, either via phone or on the outside of the warehouse. This would give you a chance to mix dialogue and make the scene more present, (more show). The dynamic between her and anybody or any being would accelerate her character development IMO.

    I like the idea of saving the world from Slavers, right on and I'd read on.