Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #31

TITLE: Donwight
GENRE: NA Fantasy

Chest tight, Elsa thrashed in the water, fighting for air before the hand forced her back down. Strong fingers dug into her scalp, submerging her squeals. Elsa was swallowed by the cold, her splashes too weak to keep her from going under. Ignoring the ache in her skinny arms she flailed beneath the algae, frantic kicks churning up the muck. Blood pounded in her ears. Her cries bubbled out, eyes bulging and stinging.

Gritting her teeth and tasting silt, she dredged up her dormant power, air jetting from her nose with the effort. She forced the sparks out through her pores, her skin shimmering as they rose beneath the surface, expecting the usual warm tingle and flash. Instead, it set her nerves on fire.

NEVER use it wet, her father had warned her.

A violent flare sent shock-waves through the pool, with the girl at its heart. The hand tore out her hair. Elsa jack-knifed, shrieking through the water, throwing up fountains of spray. Flames exploded across her skin, fizzing and blistering. Her lungs flooded with needles of stabbing fire. She burst through the surface with a raw screech, only to be thrust straight back down. The waters claimed her. Steaming bubbles scorched her throat as she choked, hot red drops spraying into the murk.

Then - it was over. She felt nothing.

Elsa sank, heavy and numb, pulled down, deeper, further away from the small grey square of light and the rippling figure overhead.


  1. Strong writing, and excellent descriptions. You've got a good grasp of action and it is certainly an exciting scene.

    But this reminds me of Jodi Meadows called a "car crash" opening. We have great action, but we have no grounding. Perhaps the reader should get to know Elsa a little bit before we put in an apparent life or death, someone is trying to kill me, situation.

    "Elsa was swallowed by the cold, her splashes too weak to keep her from going under."

    Grammar is not my strong suit, but I think that is passive voice. Consider revising.

  2. This is really interesting! I'd keep reading for sure, but I agree with the above comment. It would pack more emotional punch if we knew a little bit more about Elsa. What brought her to this point, where she is, if she was taken by surprise in her attack or if it's someone she knows. IMO it would add a little something if it wasn't so sudden. This here seems like a great place to end your first chapter.

    But I really like this. I'd read on for sure.

  3. This is a great action scene, but since we don't know Elsa at all, it's hard to feel for her. Maybe if we had a few paragraphs before to let us know how she got here or something about her, we could have a connection to her. I'm really curious about her ability to spark, or whatever it is!

  4. What if you started with "Strong fingers dug into her scale, submerging her squeals"? I found that sentence more of a hook that the opening line, which is too wordy to be as powerful as it could be.
    I did not feel I needed to know Elsa before this started. I'm learning about her as we go and I found this situation a great hook. A few things were unclear: what rose to the surface as her skin shimmered? Sparks?
    Don't step outsides your POV. "A violent flare sent shock-waves through the pool, with the girl at its heart." THis pulls us out of her head and slows the story.
    As Elsa is weakening, she pulls this power and then suddenly she can jack-knife through the water? I also had a hard time imagining what she's doing as jack-knifing is a bending dive, so is she bending like a sea monkey? I thought she had already surfaced when she threw up fountains of spary, but then she bursts through the surface later. If she isn't above water, how can fire explode across her skin? If the hand left her head, what thrust her back down? What are the red hot drops that pray into the murk?
    This is a really interesting story, but it could use some clarity. I love the idea!

  5. I agree with Unknown's comment. I don't need to know anything about Elsa to be hooked. At least not in the first 250 words. It wouldn't matter who she is, I would feel for this poor individual. I did have a hard time imagining the jack-knife, but I think that's an easy fix.

  6. I get no sense of panic or fear - or anything. Consequently, I don't find my self caring for Elsa or her predicament.

    I, too, got confused with her jack-knifing and shrieking through the water and then bursting through the surface. I thought she had surfaced with the jack-knife - how else would she shriek?

    Does the hand tear out her hair - or was this meant to read tore out of her hair (as in, the hand was burnt)?

  7. I'm in the group who'd like to see a bit of the MC before the drowning. Even just a sentence or two to set the scene would help. Was she already in the lake or did someone kidnap her and take her there? I don't know who she is or how she got there or why someone wants to kill her, so I don't know if I should hate her antagonist or fear him, or if it's even a him. Since this is fantasy, it may be an it. I don't know if she's an innocent victim, or if perhaps she was hunting down whoever is drowning her. There's simply no context. A parg or two before the drowning could make a big difference.

  8. The action here was engaging enough to keep me reading. There were a few descriptions that were bit hard to visualize (“jack-knifed, shrieking through the water” and “lungs flooded with needles of stabbing fire,” for instance), but for the most part I felt like I knew enough to be interested/engaged in Elsa's struggle.