Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #10

GENRE: New Adult

I have thirty seconds. My thighs are on fire, but I crouch low to the mat and circle him, moving in and out quickly. I shoot in and grab his leg, then explode up through his body. Again. And again.
Sweat streams into my eyes, but I couldn't see him clearly even if he was really there. I watch him, my imaginary opponent, as Three Doors Down blasts Kryptonite around my head. If I go crazy now will you still call me Superman? I check the clock above the door and go again. I'm on my two hundredth shot when I feel a jolt of electricity right behind my elbow. I lose my balance, and stumble in the middle of the take down. I look at my time; 199 take downs in twenty minutes. I failed.

She should have warned me. Made a noise. Stomped her f****** Eskimo boots. Something. She's lucky I didn't jab her in the eyeball.


Erin Abercrombie taps her ear, and I take my ear buds out. I don't know what to say. I should have said something earlier, back last spring when it happened. Her sister OD'ed and woke up dead. Or didn't wake up at all, rather. Heroin. I don't bring it up.


"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I just wanted to let you know I'm here. Didn't want to freak you out if you saw me in the office."


  1. The first part had some great writing. I was right there with the MC. Then I got confused. What just happened? How did we get from a wrestling match to someone interrupted from her music to talk about a drug OD?

  2. I have to admit that this really confused me. At first it sounds like wrestling or kick-boxing, but then the opponent is invisible. Is this on an XBox or Wii or something? Also, she grabs his leg and then "explodes up through his body?" - I can't picture what this looks like.

    Then there's this "she" in the story and I'm not sure it's Erin or another she. If it's the same person, just write "Erin Ambercrombe should have warned me." If not, make it clear who this "she" is.

    And finally, there's this reference to Erin's sister ODing, which comes out of left field. It seems as if you're purposely trying to be mysterious about what's going on, but it just comes across as confusing. I just can't visualize what's happening.

  3. Also confused. I thought it was paranormal on read one and Erin was a ghost with the "woke up dead" and various details. Had to read again to sort it out.

    It's combining two many ideas and working too hard to try and surprise me by setting up a perception and then breaking it.

    This can be powerful, but the whole of the scene needs to work to one goal in this regard, not each sentence and paragraph generating its own juxtaposition and jarring change.

  4. I agree with the other comments. This was hard to follow. I was with you at the beginning until Erin enters, and then it sort of fell apart for me after that. Maybe add what he was doing when Erin comes in, or a little dialogue from her to explain to the reader what he's doing. And the thing about her sister ODing seems to come from left field and then is immediately dropped again. And how long ago was "last spring"--that really doesn't give us much of a reference point since we don't know where we are in the present.

    I think if you can pick one main conflict/event to focus all the attention on in the beginning, it would make this flow much smoother. Just my thoughts.

  5. I liked it. I got the sense that he was practicing his wrestling moves without an actual opponent, which sets up who he is a bit. The interruption by Erin - who he doesn't seem happy to see - and her O'ding sister seem to be a complication.

    There's action, conflict, tension, a hint of a problem - all well-written. I'd read more.

    My only suggestion would be perhaps not naming an actual song since it will be probably be outdated by the time this gets published. But then, some songs live forever.

  6. I like the opening images, I assume wrestling, but I got a bit lost after that. I think it would serve your story to be direct with Erin's approach instead of giving his reaction first and working backwards to the fact Erin interrupted him. This might work elsewhere in the story, but not for an opener.

    The OD backstory threw me as well; this might evolve in his train of thought but it is jarring to me as a reader. I think we need more context between MC and Erin before he even thinks this. Maybe she's acting weird, not looking him in the eye, or he can't look her in teh eye because he never dealt with the aftermath of the sister dying. I think all this needs to be couched within the MC's interaction and worked up to.

    I know it's only the first page, but being New Adult I assume this is college? Maybe make some sort of reference to his university's wrestling team or something?

  7. I'm also on the, got the first wrestling part, but then you lost me, bandwagon. I think I'd be less confused if at the part where it says-

    "She should have warned me"

    We saw Erin and were introduced to her. Instead, I'm left wondering, she who? And how'd he know it was her?

    Same with the ODing. I need a better transition to get to this thought.

  8. I really loved the opening, but I was confused with the interruption. Are we supposed to feel at a complete loss? I do love the voice, and would be completely hooked if the jump from action to conversation wasn’t so jarring.

  9. Good writng, but seems that you've buried the strongest part of this, in the paragraph about Erin and her sister ...

  10. A couple of the images are incomprehensible to me. What is the narrator moving in and out of? How do you 'explode up through' someone's body?

    I generally dislike it when authors reference specific bands or songs. It just never makes any sense if the reader hasn't heard the song before, and it'd have so much more effect if you described what the song sounds like. Metal? Scratchy guitar? Jangling and percussive? A band name and song title does nothing for me.

    The sudden introduction of a "she" is also baffling, and I don't know how the drug OD or Erin in general relates to the fight, or the ear buds, or ... I just don't understand. There's an abrupt setting switch that needs to be handled a lot more smoothly. I'd make my first priority grounding the reader in what this virtual fighting reality is, and how it works.

    Best of luck.

  11. You lost me at "explode up through his body. Again. And again." because if "his" was "her" this would read as erotica. Hmm, well, that's where my mind went (and I don't read erotica).

    Love the song, so that one worked for me and helped me get back to the wrestling thing - maybe mention it's a wii or similar device.

    The OD was out of left field. If that was cut, we might have learned more about the MC or Erin.

    Otherwise, generally crisp writing. Oh, should "take down" be hyphenated? And what is the genre - I think New Adult just describes the targeted age group like YA or MG.

  12. I become totally engrossed in the first half of that. I'm curious if she's a secret agent in training... A lunatic? A spy? A mercenary? I really loved your language. But the BLAM. Out of nowhere, she's talking to (presumably) a friend and worrying about dead sisters and social graces. It took a very strange and drastic turn.