Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #12


The last thing Mac remembered was shooting at Boswell as he leveled his gun at her. Did he shoot her? She sat up slowly, not wanting to go too fast in case she was shot. She looked down at her gray uniform and ran her hands over her body. She hurt all over but not in any one place in particular so either he missed or he never intended to kill her in the first place. She sat up and dusted herself off.


A hot bright sun shone overhead and even the thin fabric of her uniform stuck to her back from where she sweat through the material. God, it was hot. She stood unsteady on her feet for a moment then righted herself. She was in the middle of a desert of sorts. She shaded her eyes and looked in each direction, turning a full 360 degrees until she was back to the start. As far as she could see in every direction was sand, sand and more sand. Oh, and an occasional rock formation. Her head throbbed in time to the beat of her heart. She scrubbed at her hair and instantly regretted it. There was a huge goose egg on the back of her head. A flash of memory of the butt of a gun coming in contact with her head played across her mind’s eye. So instead of killing her, he knocked her unconscious and dropped her here. Wherever here was.


  1. A lot of description but it didn't feel old to me. Nice cliffhanger ending.

    The only thing that jolted me was the first two sentences. I thought the 'he' in the second sentence was a typo. Took me awhile to realize they both shot at each other. Or so she thought.

  2. The first paragraph was confusing to me. I had to read it more than once to get what was going on and which one was mac and which one was Boswell.

  3. The opening is confusing, and might benefit from a simple re-arranging of sentences. Mac might wake up, realize her surroundingshave changed, and then remember what happened to place her there. The setting is interesting, and the story feels compelling enough for me to keep reading.

  4. I agree, the first few lines are a little confusing given the character is Mac but it's a she, and the he and she pronouns that follow require a few reads to get straight who is who and who shot who. Just a few rearrangements will help, and I would nix the question she asks herself.

    It might work to break up that last paragraph into smaller thoughts since it's all narration, to keep the pace moving.

  5. I wasn't too confused at the first paragraph. Maybe having the female pronoun instead of Mac in the first sentence would help clear up other pronouns though, because "Mac" is a guyish name.

    "In case she was shot" makes me think she'll be shot again, maybe, "in case she was wounded."

    Who are the bastards? I would think it would be singular bastard, for Boswell.

    Love the voice we get with "God, it was hot."

    If it's a desert, it's a desert, not a desert of sorts.

    I'm not sure if this is because I'm reading this on the web, and I expect shorter paragraphs on the web, but like Stephsco, I think the third paragraph seems long. I would maybe do a paragraph break at "her head."

    I'm definitely curious about what happened here, and the desert sounds interesting. Survival story, at least at first! Woohoo. I'd read on.

  6. You’ve put you MC in a perilous situation right away (good tension) but we don’t know enough to care about her, so whatever comes next should really show her personality.

    Mac was confusing as a female name. It took me a minute to straighten out who was who in the first two sentences. Instead of “Did he shoot her” I’d say “Had he shot her?” and then start a new paragraph. She “sat up” twice. She said, “Bastards” but only one person has been mentioned.

    I agree with comments about breaking up the paragraphs. All of these could be stand-alone paragraphs: “God, it was hot.” “Sand, sand and more sand. Oh, and an occasional rock formation.” (Delete “As far as she could see in every direction”.) “Wherever here was.”

    Phrasing could be tightened: Replace “where she sweat through the material” with “from sweat.” Delete “in time to the beat of her heart.” (That’s a given.)

    Wouldn’t she have noticed the pain of a goose egg right away? I’d forget running her hands over her body and have her touch her head right away and remember the gun butt. Then put the line about leaving her wherever this was. THEN have her stand up and look around. End the passage with “Sand, sand and more sand. Oh, and an occasional rock formation.”

  7. I was confused by the first sentence because of the gender-neutral names and pronouns. I figured out that Boswell was the female and Mac was the male, but I had to reread the first 3 sentences a couple times. (I've personally never heard the name "Boswell," so I thought it was a man's name at first.)

    The third paragraph could do for some splitting up. I received some advice once that you shouldn't use too long of sentences or paragraphs in the first page or so. You can further on in the book, but you don't want to scare people away. As the QueryShark also says (even though I know this isn't a query), white space is your friend. (Paraphrased, of course.)

  8. I'm afraid I'm not connecting with your first paragraph. Flashback openings can be tricky, and this one feels very abrupt and jarring.

    I'd suggest starting with a memorable line that's simple and to the point, like "God, it was hot." Have your character come to, and as she's piecing where she is together, then you can incorporate her vague memories of how she ended up here.

  9. I love a good sci-fi with a bada$$ female main character. I'm interested in what the whole story here is.

    A lot of people are suggesting you break up the paragraphs more. I think you would be better served losing about half of the sentences. You spend 250 words telling us what 100 or so would have covered nicely. Filler words and sentences are never good, in an opening they are Very Bad.

    Some examples: You tell us she's in a desert and then you tell us she's surrounded by sand on all sides. Do one or the other. You say she's sweating under a hot sun, then you say "God it was hot." Keep the evocative and interesting and RESIST the urge to explain more.