Friday, December 2, 2011

#11 Thriller (psychological): White Lies

TITLE: White Lies
GENRE: Thriller (psychological)

KBC anchor Fletcher Hannigan loved reporting the news until the day he became it. Waking injured and alone with a three-month hole where his memory used to be, Fletcher battles accusations of treason and his own crippling fears to reconstruct the story he chased into Afghanistan and uncover the fate of his missing crew.

I have dreamed of many things these weeks, but never sunlight. So when I open my eyes to a sky streaked with pink, a sea of rolling hills and damp grass and snow-capped mountains in the distance, I am fairly certain it’s real. There is hope in this, but also fear—where am I, and why have they released me? Did I escape? Are they coming to drag me back?

I need to hide, find help, but moving is agony. Just getting to my feet takes several tries, and for many moments after, I’m not sure which way is up. The sun rises in the east, and the sky to my left is still a dusky blue, which means that up is . . .

Some reporter you are, Fletcher. Can’t even puzzle your way through gravity.

Dew seeps through my trousers as I stumble through the grass. It feels strange, almost clumsy, to be wearing anything at all after so long spent without, but I am no less exposed for it now. A lone goat passes me by, the bell around its neck clanking as it dips its head, rips up a mouthful of grass, and meets my eyes.

“Thaaaaaaaaat way!” it bleats. My gaze follows its over the rise. More mountains. No sign of Them; no sign of anyone. Maybe they’re really not coming. I can’t quite believe that, but hope is a funny thing, a cockroach, surviving even when all else is lost.


  1. I like the premise. The ending of the first sentence of your logline is awkward to me. Also, do anchors follow stories to the field, or reporters?

    The MC's confusion comes across clearly. I really like how he compares hope to the cockroach - not that I like those things - in that it survives in the unlikeliest places.

    Best wishes,

  2. It's the last line of the excerpt that I particularly like about this one. I guess being hooked is a funny thing too :)

  3. I love the voice/humour in this, and the fact that he thinks he can't puzzle his way through gravity.

    I rarely read this genre, but you've definitely hooked me!

  4. I really like your voice, particularly the dark humor in the midst of confusion.

    I did find the last sentence of your logline confusing -- I think adding 'to' before 'uncover' will clarify it. And 'its' in 'My gaze followed its' threw me.

    Otherwise compelling situation, great imagery, and nice pacing. I'd definitely read more.

    Good luck!

  5. The first two sentences are great and make me want to read on. I like the writing, I like his aside to himself, I like the way he thinks.

    The only thing not clear to me is where he's waking up. If he's alone in the damp grass, he should maybe experience the dew sooner.

    There are other details that could maybe be slipped in to help to ground the reader in what he knows and what he doesn't know. Is he so far from wherever he's been kept indoors that there's absolutely nothing around, should he be looking for those landmarks first? If he knows he's been so long without clothing, does he know they're his pants? Was he dressed by someone in his sleep? Is that weird to him?

    On the whole, though, interesting logline and really compelling writing. I'd read on!

  6. This is a great hook--waking up disoriented and frightened in a strange place, with people after you. I had to read the first paragraph three times to get it though--that he hadn't dreamed of sunlight so he knew this had to be real. Personally I don't dream of day or night at all vividly so not sure this is as plausible as it should be. But then I am totally with you as he struggles to his feet. I like the cockroach/hope line a lot. My only other note is have you researched how likely it is that a local TV anchor would go overseas these days? I'm familiar with the media and with drastic budget cuts and less foreign TV coverage than ever, it's rare.

  7. I love the premise and the logline is fantastic.

    I, too, had to reread the excerpt a few times to *get* what was going on. I think the protag is too self-aware. There are sensory things that will stand out and others that wouldn't -- especially in a disorienting position.

    This is something I struggle with writing in first person (and my critique partners always catch!).

    A Showtime series "Homeland" did a good job of showing the disorientation of a prisoner who is suddenly let lose, allowed to bathe and dress. Everything is a new sensation after a lengthy captivity.

    This story appeals to me. I'd read on!

  8. I like the writing here, and as we work out that this was a man who was held prisoner and is suddenly free without explanation, I think it's a really powerful premise. Things we take for granted, like sunlight and clothes, take on a lot of significance. Good description, good voice, and a timely subject. Maybe clarify a bit (I'm not sure why you'd stop dreaming of sunlight just because you can't see it in real life) but I like this.

  9. I like this one too, though I usually stay away from psychological thrillers (nightmares!). I liked how the scene unfolded through his senses.

    Others have pointed out details--anchor or reporter, for example--but I think your premise is solid and timely. I dare say, I'd read on.

    Good luck.