Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #47


I knew the other Specs ahead of me and behind me were all feeling the same thing, it was a communal cold sweat. What would today bring? Another tornado hurtling at us at full speed? Or a herd of large, hairy, hump backed beasts that would charge the ten of us any minute?

It could be something simple. Dress us up in funny costumes and play music. They’d done that once. Just to see what we would do. Maybe that’s what that was… unless we were supposed to do something and we didn’t. Every time, we tried to maintain a team spirit. That was important above all else. Not only because a lot of the Specs thought what I did, that the sessions were a test of some kind. But also because we had to be a team because if it was a bad day in the Stacks, working together was the only way to survive.

Someone nudged me from behind and I turned to see Weeks grinning at me from ear to ear. Weeks got his name from parents who’d given in to the doomsday thinking back on Earth, near the end. Some of the kids had names like his now. Days, Weeks, Hours. They’d named their kid after the amount of time they thought they had left. Instead of turning out gloomy and depressed the way his parents must have been, Weeks chose to be an incontrovertible optimist.


  1. I knew the other Specs ahead of me and behind me were all feeling the same thing, it was a communal cold sweat. What would today bring? Another tornado hurtling at us at full speed? Or a herd of large, hairy, hump backed beasts that would charge the ten of us any minute?

    The paragraph needs some tweaking.

    First sentence try removing "of me" - The other Specs ahead and behind felt the same terror, ten bodies drenched with cold sweat.

    The feeling is not the sweat is it? I guess it could be.

    The second has to lose the ats. Another tornado hurled our way?

    Hump backed should beige word not two.

    So now with the good! I like the tone of your story. It's interesting and I want to know more.

    I'd read on to find out but would like to know more about the mc - not an info dump - but maybe a line of simple dialogue with a tag to give us his name. Maybe Weeks could address him?

    Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  2. I like the sound of this! Post-apocalyptic grunt-recruits, one of them a bit of a wild card, all with the tension of "What will they throw at us next?"

    I'd read more!

  3. Love "communal cold sweat." I like the premise of the story, but I think that you should stick with what is happening at that moment and less background information. It felt like an info dump for me. Keep at it though, I think you definitely have something here.

  4. I agree with Megan. The thing about this first page is that much isn't happening. Mostly it's the character thinking about things in his head. Usually a story should start with something actually happening, whether the character is just walking down a street or dodging laser beams. It doesn't have to be action-packed, but the character should be moving the story along.

    The first paragraph is great, but I don't think the second is needed so early in the chapter. You can go right into Weeks nudging the main character, and then some dialogue so we get to know more about him (or her, I can't tell the main character's gender).

    I like the concept of parents naming their kids Weeks, Days, Hours. That's something new.

    Good luck with this!

  5. I also love "communal cold sweat"! Very descriptive. If you eliminate all of the 2nd paragraph except the last line (keep "if it was a bad day in the Stacks..."), you're 1st 250 words will include some dialogue that I'm sure is coming. In the beginning I think the focus should remain on the bad things that can happen in the Stacks. I love this and definitely want to keep reading.

  6. "Communal cold sweat" was my favourite phrase as well. A great piece of writing! :)

    I agree with those that suggested cutting the second paragraph. You could work some of that information into a conversation between Weeks and the main character, maybe a bit of banter about what they think the next challenge might be. If they're meant to be silent while they're waiting you could have them whisper and then someone else could shush them.

  7. Interesting opening. Sci-Fi requires a great deal of world building, but there's an art to doing it without info-dumping. There's a great deal of telling in this opening, and I encourage you to show more.

    The things I actually wanted to know (eg, who the MC was, what the heck Specs were and what the stacks might be) were not mentioned, but I assume that comes in the next 250 words.

    I think at least showing us a little bit about the MC's inner world as s/he anticipates the day's events might help. It doesn't need to be very much, a response such as a clenched jaw, a shiver might help put the reader into the MC's situation.

    I like Weeks, and the explanation about the origin of his name was an info dump that actually worked (proving my theory that not all info dumps were bad)! This shows you can do it.. I suggest you tweak the earlier paras to make them a little more clear.

  8. I don’t know where I am here. Since it’s SF, I would assume it’s the future, but how far ahead? And where? A space station? A new planet? A ship traveling in space? And perhaps zoom in even closer. Are they in a gym? A classroom? And who is I? Male, female?

    Perhaps eliminate the last parg about Weeks and get the origin of his name out another way, preferably through dialogue. And try not to talk and explain to the reader. Unless these are diary or journal entries, or these events have already happened and your MC is retelling them, then the reader doesn’t exist for your MC. It’s one of the toughest things to do when writing first person.

  9. When you’re building your world, you’ve got to show, not tell. This whole opening is anticipation and info dump. Get out of your MC’s head, and show us his or her world (I don’t know which it is) and how he or she interacts with it. Give us action, not anticipation. Unfortunately, I’m not hooked.

  10. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 19, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    I have no idea what's going on, but I'm in love with Weeks already. I'd keep reading just for him.