Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #ALT-1

GENRE: YA Contemporary

Red and blue lights dance off the roof of my mother’s car.

I groan and lean back against the seat. The movement makes my head spin and my stomach rolls. The pain is unbearable. Like thousands of ice picks hammering into my temple at once.

Pushing against the steering wheel, I try to shift away from the pain. My hand slips and my elbow slams into something hard. I grunt and cradle my arm against my chest. Blood covers my hand. It’s smeared across my shirt and the soaked fabric clings to my skin. It’s sticky and uncomfortable.

It’s dark. I don’t understand why I’m in the car. I can’t even pin down my last memory. It feels like days ago that I was at Logan’s house. But it was just this afternoon, right? Maybe?

I squint to make out the objects past the cracks in the windshield. A tree has sprouted through the hood of the car, its branches splayed across the glass. I turn stiffly to my right. More trees. How the hell did I make it this far into the woods in a car?

A distant memory floods my consciousness. Lily. My dad.

Panic seizes my body. The air is thick, like molasses, and I can’t get enough as I gulp for more. Each breath I take sends a shock of pain rocketing through my chest as my lungs expand against my tender ribs. The blood rushing to my brain pounds against my skull and I lean over in time to vomit.


  1. Okay, I'll answer the question in the labels of this post.

    Yeah, I'm hooked.

    Great job! :)

  2. I am intrigued and would definitely read more, but...

    The sentence: It's dark. irks me. It's short and clunky and telling rather than showing. Actually, that whole paragraph to me.

    Also, the part, like molasses in the second sentence of the last paragraph could be left out or reworked. Throwing in the like molasses interrupted the flow. Maybe something like: I gulp but can't seem to get enough of the molasses-thick air. Or something along those lines so it does more showing and less telling.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. I liked this. However I had a weird moment when I envisioned the protag outside of the car because you used the word 'roof' instead of 'ceiling'.

    Totally nitpicky, but I really thought they were thrown out of the car rather than inside, then they pushed against the steering wheel.

  4. Lots of good sensory detail here to set the scene. I did want a little more of the main character here. I know it's only 250 words, but I want to get a sense of who she is right away so I begin to care about her.

  5. You started with the lights from the police car, and then went on about her pain and confusion, and that seemed to go on too long. If the cops were there, why hadn't they gotten to her car?

    The "it's dark" parg is all told and would be stronger if shown.

    A distant memory floods her consciousness but you don't go on to tell us what the memory is. Is she having a memory or is she just remembering names?

    Perhaps cut 'panic seizes my body.' because you don't show her panicking and it's a bit melodramatic.

    And the last sentence 'in time to vomit' reads like she has a deadline. Perhaps - I lean over and vomit?

  6. I agree with Samantha Jean and would recommend reading your work out loud for rhythm and balance. Also, verb confusions drive me batty. Present tense for stuff happening now; past for flash-backs. These can be deal-breakers for agents.

  7. This draws me in with the details and the immediate tension. You paint an exciting picture.

    I'd read more. Nice job!

  8. I like this, but I do think parts could be tightened up just a smidge because I'd like to get a little closer to an answer (as in why is she in a wrecked car in the forest). I did experience confusion at the roof vs ceiling issue.

    Overall though, great visuals.

  9. Too much description. I would start with the line of her waking up and seeing the tree. Then she tried to move but her hands are bloody and her temple throbs. All the lines add to your word count but do they add to the story?

    I think this has potential and the subject is intriguing but needs to be fine-tuned.

    Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  10. I also agree that the descriptions are too long in this beginning. You can cut a lot and leave space for some character development which is lacking a bit.

    I love the paragraph about the tree through the hood - very dramatic. Start here, Move to the pain and vomiting. It will read quicker and more urgent.

    Good luck and thanks for sharing.

  11. I felt a sense of detachment, like someone watching the scene rather than experiencing it. I think some of this could be tightened up so that we get to answers sooner. My image of what was going on radically shifted several times which didn't help with the detachment feeling.
    Also, I would change rolls to roll in the second sentence.

  12. My initial thought after reading the first paragraph is that she got pulled over by a cop. But it later appears to be a car accident, though I'm confused as to whether the car is upside down or not.

    The hard thing about starting a story with a confused main character/narrator, is that the reader is just as—if not more so—confused. In movies it's easier to portray something like this because there are visuals to indicate what it actually looks like, but as we only have words—and the main character's words at that—it's much harder to conceptualize something so abstract as confusion and memory loss following an accident.

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