Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #48

GENRE: Thriller

The woman lay naked on the old barn door, arms tied out from her tiny body, crucifixion-style. Her head was taped, immobile, to the rough, splintered boards beneath her. Her long dark hair coiled underneath her head. A clear plastic tube snaked down her throat and into her lungs, and fogged with each breath. She struggled against her bonds. Spotlights had been hung in the corners, and the beams focused on the woman, pure light fighting back the darkness of the shadows.

Her scrubs were piled in the corner, white coat crumpled on top. The young man bent over the coat and plucked a pin from the lapel. The diamonds created the shape of a bone and sparkled in the bright light of the barn.

He pocketed the pin and sauntered over to a plain cardboard box in another corner of the structure. The box sat atop a small wooden table surrounded with surgical equipment. Lifting the lid, he pulled out a squat brown bottle and a scalpel. For a moment he let his eyes trace the length of the blade, holding it so the light caught the edge. Slipping a surgical mask over his mouth and nose, he walked across the dirty concrete floor to the woman. She screamed against the cylinder in her throat, which pushed aside her vocal cords. No sound emerged.


  1. Great imagery here.

    In a few places, the description provides more information than the POV character would know. For example, the POV character could see the boards are splintered but it makes less sense that he'd know the boards were rough unless he was touching them while sharing the information.

    Also, the writing here could be tightened in places to create more tension via pacing and active verb usage.

    Good sample, but overall this didn't hook me.

  2. Pretty intense situation, for that alone I would want/need to read on.

    A couple things do distract from the tension. More powerful verbs would make the reader feel the woman's fear, it is almost reading like a report, after the fact.

    Also, I think shorter, stabbing sentences with less poetic description (e.g. pure light fighting back the darkness) will add to the immediacy of the situation. Neither the woman or potential killer notice or care about the sparkle of the diamonds. Well, the killer might, if he is that type - which we don't know yet! ;-)

    But overall, very grabbing and I'd certainly read on.

  3. I love the setting, the premise and the characters but I'd like to see more tension in the opening scene. The mention of her white coat is an excellent detail.

    You could be briefer (and therefore scarier) in a few places. For example, instead of "for a moment, he let his..." , you might consider "the light caught the edge of the scalpel."

  4. Good introduction right into the action. I do have trouble discerning POV, though, and there are some options for tightening sentences.

  5. Love your descriptions, very Slience of the Lambs. Brave use of imagery. Maybe some tightenting would enhance the tension even further. Great job!

  6. I liked this one. I found the use of the word "sauntered" jarring--I think you could find a more precise word with more sinister connotations.

    Otherwise, I thought the writing was good and you set up an intriguing situation.

    There might be a more striking or interesting twist to the situation you could add, however. This seems like pretty standard serial-killer stuff.

  7. I liked it and I'd keep reading. :)

  8. I had trouble with the first sentence because for me doors are vertical, so how could anyone lie on one?

    Passing the first sentence, the tension was quite good.

    However, I don't know the lead character's name.

  9. Thanks, everyone, for your feedback! I'm already hard at work, really digging into revisions.

    A few specific answers: I've changed the "sauntered." You're right, that's not really what I meant. And the twists come much later, when you realize who the victim and the killer are. :)

    The door is lying horizontally on a couple of old sawhorses, but I didn't see how to make that obvious without being overly wordy. Thanks for pointing it out-- it's something for me to work on.

    Thanks again, everyone!