Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #27

GENRE: YA Light Science Fiction/Thriller

I stare at cracks in an unfamiliar ceiling. This is not my bedroom. Four white walls. One steel door. No windows. I have no idea how I got here. Pushing myself up on one elbow--both wrists suddenly catch, yanking me into a flattened position. What the--

A glint of metal catches my attention, I blink back confusion and carefully lift my arms three inches above the bed. Shiny silver cuffs; they’re attached to the railing, clanking with each frantic tug. I pause before unleashing my frustration on the tethers. I wrench my arms back and forth--further digging the metal into my flesh--igniting a burning sensation that blazes past my elbows, then settles in my inflamed wrists.

One. Two. Three.

Counting isn’t calming, I’m wound too tightly. Glancing at my body, I see I’m in a gray hospital gown. My mind is blank, but my senses are sharp--antiseptic slices the air and I’m terrified about all that implies. I scream as loud as I can, no one comes.

A splitting ache cuts through my head. Thrashing back and forth, I am no closer to freeing myself, I must remain calm. Closing my eyes and focusing on breathing helps. It always helps. Inhale. Exhale. I blink both the anxiety and blackness away. I’m being too careless. Reckless. Foolish. Someone will notice and report my behavior. I can’t risk an infraction on my record.

Gradually my eyes adjust as I scan the darkened area trying to piece it together.


  1. I don't have any thing negative to point out, I just wanted to say I'm hooked! You built the tension in a nice crescendo that makes me want to read more. Good luck with this!

  2. I'm definitely intrigued! I think you can probably pare back on some of your descriptions to make it tighter. You could trim out some of the unnecessary clauses like "yanking me into a flattened position," "Glancing at my body." And this sentence feels long: "I wrench my arms back and forth--further digging the metal into my flesh--igniting a burning sensation that blazes past my elbows, then settles in my inflamed wrists."

    By the time we get to the paragraph that starts: A splitting ache cuts through my head, I'm over hearing about her thrashing around in a hospital bed. I get it, and I want to move on to her trying to piece it together, to know what's going on here. I think you could cut it altogether.

    All that said, I'm just being nitpicky and I do like this a lot! I would definitely read on.

  3. I agree with Rachel- a great start with some hints at the type of world she lives in without being too forceful about it. Like she said, you can edit down some of the "movement" stuff, picking one thing to focus one, like the metal digging into flesh. The inflamed wrists is implied to the reader.

  4. I agree with the other comments - tightening the description would help the narrative a lot! And this reminds me of the opening scenes in Walking Dead where Grimes wake up, or the first Resident Evil movie. I'm very curious as to what happens next, now!

  5. While I would keep reading, I'm not connecting to the character as much as I think I should here. She's waking up in a strange room, restained, and I'm just not feeling her panic. You try to paint it, but I'm not feeling it. Unless this isn't an especially unusual occurance in her world. Although, I am interested in seeing what happens next.

  6. I'm not entirely hooked. I feel like the 'waking up and not knowing where you are' thing is hard to make fresh. I also was confused - at first he/she doesn't know where they are or what's happening, but later he/she worries about an infraction on their record. That makes me think they do know what's going on. I do like the descriptions, especiall the antiseptic slicing the air. Very vivid.

  7. Good job on building tension, but I would also suggest paring down the description, shorter sentences. The pace is good. Hmmm, perhaps a little more panic in the beginning, less description of how she/he is tied, & guessing it's a young person? If so, perhaps less formal language? But I am intrigued as to what is happening to them...Keep going:)

  8. Definitely a grabby opening scene, but like the others, I was a bit weary of the strong descriptive language by the end of the sample ("antiseptic slices the air," "clanking with each frantic tug," "a burning sensation that blazes,") I'd try to work up to a crescendo, building the tension more strategically (if he's "carefully" lifting his arms above the bed, why are they "clanking with each frantic tug"?) Watch your language closely and you'll give this a better rhythm...

  9. My first big question is, if the room is dark--as indicated at the end of the excerpt--how is the protagonist able to see the cracks in the ceiling, the four white walls, etc? Especially if his/her eyes don't adjust until the very end.

    I love the end of the first paragraph.

    Beginning of the second one, what glints off of the metal of the cuffs if there is no light?

    In the second paragraph, the protagonist blinks back confusion. In the fourth one, s/he blinks anxiety and darkness away. The actions are very close together, and the echo is noticeable.

    All-in-all, would definitely read more. Wanna know what's going on.