Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #30

GENRE: YA Dark Fantasy

When your eardrum gets blown apart, something weird happens. Right before everything goes silent, there’s this freaky ringing in your ear.

Not a lot of people know this, but that ringing in your ears? It’s actually the sound of dying cells. What you’re hearing is actually the last time you’ll ever get to hear that particular note. When it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

And right now, it was as if there was an entire orchestra of notes, all ringing, all dying, and that sound just drowned out everything. It drowned out the sirens, it drowned out the screaming. It even drowned out the firefighter who was trying to drag me to safety. I think he was yelling something at me, but I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t hear a thing.

I blinked, staring up at the sky. Everything was coming in and out of focus for some reason. Blurry, sharp, blurry, sharp. Was there something wrong with my eyes too?

Ironically, it was actually a nice day.

The sky was blue, bluer than I had ever seen before. And in the distance, flocks of birds twittered, darting this way and that, chasing each other like playful children. Briefly, the sun winked at me before disappearing beneath a group of puffy white clouds and I sighed as a warm summer breeze washed over me.

Great. The first nice day we get in a long, long time and I was going to miss it.


  1. You definitely have voice, but the pacing of this page seems off. Your protag has just had some kind of physically traumatic experience, but he/she (I still don't know which, even after a page) isn't responding as if he/she is in pain or even in shock.

    I would suggest tightening this for greater urgency. Specifically, I think you can cut the following:

    The paragraph "Not a lot of people know's gone forever." (This has nice voice, but doesn't move the action forward. We already know his/her ears are ringing.)

    The sentence "It drowned out the sirens, it drowned out the screaming." (This sentence also has a perspective issue. If he/she can't hear that, how does he/she know there are sirens and screaming to begin with?)

    The paragraph "The sky was blue...washed over me." (Once again, this doesn't advance the action. Also, perspective again--this is very detailed visual description to come from someone whose vision is blurring.)

    I do think you've got a great start here. I would read on.

  2. This is good. I was really into it, until the paragraph "The sky was blue..." I felt it really pulled me out of the action following the explosion? attack?

    Also, in the third paragraph, you start by saying all the MC hears is "an entire orchestra of notes" that's drowning everything out, but the last sentence is "I couldn't hear a thing." Maybe instead, something like "All I could hear was the ringing."

    Definitely a good start, though.

  3. This is a great beginning. Love the voice and the amount of tension.

    Good luck!

  4. I love the contrast between the nice day and the tragic event. Great job playing that up. I also like the surreal quality to the MC's outlook. It's very much how shock works. People in shock don't feel pain, and they feel distanced from what's going on, and you showed that very well.

  5. Not a bad starter. I do agree with Lanette. Great contrast, pretty good voice.

    I do have a few little quips, but nothing serious. I'm not sure you used "Ironically" correctly in the sentence, but very few people do use the word correctly now.

    Also, I think there could be a past/present tense problem in a few cases. The example I noticed was "And right now"(present tense) then the rest of the sentence was past tense.

    Completely minor things. Overall, while I can't say I was hooked, I likely would have at least turned the page.

  6. Interesting way to start. I think you could cut down on the details of the ear drum because once we get it then there's nothing accomplished by dwelling on it - esp. in the opening. You could rethink "ironically" as it is not used in the proper way here. I am not sure if I like the shift of focus from auditory to visual in so short a space. You spent so much time building up the hearing aspect then you switch (dropping it) to the sights - and there does not seem to have been the expected "payoff."

  7. I agree with Lanette and David. The fireman and screaming, ect. mixed with the nice day makes for a really good contrast. Plus, I like the voice. That combine with the title makes me curious.

  8. I love the title - that in itself makes me want to read this.

    I also really like the voice and the opening line. I agree with others that perhaps there is a bit too much about the ear. But don't cut the line about the dying cells. I love love that line (I teach biology!). Maybe you could say, "Right before everything goes silent, there's this freaky ringing, the sound of dying cells. It's a sound that drowns out everything, even the sirens." (and then move on with the rest of 3rd paragraph. Just a thought.

    I didn't like the sky is blue paragraph. It slows everything down. I wanted more description of the firefighter. I think it would be interesting to describe him trying to communicate with this half-deaf/half-blind character.

    I would keep reading this. Nice job.

  9. I'm torn here. I actually totally get the traumatic event but narrator is thinking about the beautiful day. It makes me think that he/she is more delirious-like. Thoughts we have during a life-altering moment don't always make sense. So for me it worked. The only like I'd scrap is the ironically line. Only because I paused on it. It flows better without it. More like a stream of thought. If he/she is a little out of it, I don't think he/she would be noting the irony of the day.

    You could also switch the flow up a little. Maybe after the second paragraph (which I love) you could insert something about the blue sky etc. Then move onto the orchestra of notes paragraph. Just a suggestion. Bu again, as is it worked for me.

    Good start. I'd keep reading to find out what the event is and how the MC handles it. Good luck!

  10. I love the opening three paragraphs. It's always interesting to read about a phenomenon such as this, particularly when it's so well described.

    The only issue I had with these 250 words was the sixth paragraph, when I found myself wondering how a person whose vision was going in and out so dramatically could see in such vivid detail, even having been told that the vision was intermittently sharp. But I was fascinated by the idea of seeing things so clearly after what was clearly a catastrophic event.

    I'd definitely read more.