Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #33

TITLE: Fleeing Oblivion
GENRE: Young adult science fiction

I ran away to keep my life from becoming someone else’s, but despite my best efforts, it’s still not my own.

My captor locked me in a dank, musty basement. Brown mold and corrosion spotted the sides of the concrete walls near the floor, so I sat in the middle of the room, even though my back started to hurt after a while. I would have paced, but the ceiling was low, and I’d already hit my head on the yellow bulb dangling from the light fixture twice in the half hour or so that I’d been there.

I heard the click of a lock and the slow creak of rusted hinges. The girl who’d kidnapped me approached me cautiously, the wooden stairs groaning under her weight. Adding insult to the injury of my capture, she looked about fifteen. I’d escaped the police and the intelligence agents after me only to be caught by a girl my own age. I was all for equality, but getting beaten by a girl still took a toll on my masculinity. She stopped several feet away from me, a long knife held in front of her. The metal along the edge was cleaner than the rest of the blade, suggesting that it had been sharpened recently.

Sweat dampened her ruddy forehead, though I wasn’t sure whether that was a product of fear or of the late-June heat.


  1. I love the first line. And the rest of it. It does a great job of describing what happened in a way that's more showing than telling. The only thing I thought was weird was that his back would hurt after only being there for a half hour. That seems a bit too fast unless it was already injured.

  2. I really like the opening line.

    The second paragraph feels a little muddled. I'm not really sure why. I like all the details you are giving, but you might want to think about varying the sentence length a little bit.

    I find it a bit odd that the stairs would 'groan' under the weight of a 15-year-old girl. Also agree about the back hurting so quickly.

    The ending is sets up well. I'm hooked and would certainly continue reading.

  3. I loved the first line. I agree with the back hurting and the stairs groaning. At the end of this sentence, 'twice in the half hour or so that I’d been there' I would say here instead of there. It sounds better to me. Other than that, the premise intrigues me, I would keep reading.

  4. I also love the first line and am very intrigued, but I wonder if you could hint at some of the details that follow rather than saying them flat out. Right now I feel like the narrator is very aware of the reader and trying to explain things for them rather than just stating things the way they are. For example, I think the second to last sentence would have more effect if it ended at, "The metal along the edge was cleaner than the rest of the blade."

  5. I'll disagree with the previous commenters - the first line scared me off, honestly. It (and several places after it) really felt like you had a chance to do some really specific worldbuilding, but you chose not to. "My captor" could have been a different term which would give more detail, and even when you do give details, she's just "a girl" who is young. I'd encourage you to look at your word choices and see if there are places you can make your writing richer without adding adjectives or adverbs.

  6. I agree with Wendy. Who is the MC speaking to in that first sentence? It can only be the reader who, unless the MC is writing this after the story is over, shouldn't be aware of a reader. The reader shouldn't exist for the people between your pages.

    Perhaps instead of explaining things to the reader, just start the story - Maybe at the point where he's escaping the police and being captured by the girl?

  7. This is an interesting opening, but I think it would be stronger if we were able to get a better sense of the main character’s emotions—right now all I’m getting is a touch of annoyance(?). Regardless of whether he’s afraid, or annoyed, or something else entirely, I think letting the readers in on it will make for a more engaging opening.