Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #49


The lake and mountains were back.

I knew before I looked. I felt them. The tingling started in the arches of my feet, behind my knees, and in the depths of my nose. I had felt the tingling before. Twice. My fingers froze over my laptop’s keys and a thrill ran through me. I raised my head to look out my dorm room window.

The sun had set a couple hours before, but that didn’t change what I saw. There were no mountains in Indiana and St. Anthony’s Academy’s lake was across campus, yet both were outside my window. Snow covered the mountaintops and tapered off into lush grasses. Farther down, the trees began. Their leaves were a deep, almost luminescent green that made me want to run my hand through them and feel the softness, the light. Streaks of sunlight skipped across the lake’s surface before reaching through my window to blind me. I blinked.

Something black appeared in the trees’ shadows. I leaned closer, but I wasn’t close enough.

With one finger, I touched the window. Heat from outside rushed into my finger, my hand, my whole body. Never mind that it was late autumn and supposed to be almost freezing outside. Where the mountains and lake were, beyond my window, it was warm.

But I was on the third floor of my dorm. There was no lake, no mountains. Was I going crazy? It wasn’t the first time I’d thought it, but I was only sixteen and there was no way.


  1. I love this and want to read more. Especially loved the sensory descriptions. I felt like I was right there with your MC.

    My one tiny quibble is the line "The sun had set a couple hours before, but that didn't change what I saw." It kind of made me pause because the sun having set in the past couldn't change what's currently happening. It seems like her (his?) first impression would be "Wow, it's so bright outside my window!" not "This doesn't change what I'm seeing" If that makes any sense?

    Aside from that, your writing is just beautiful. Awesome job.

  2. The descriptions do a great job in grounding the reader and creating the scene. The only real problem I found was that some of the thoughts seem to end abruptly, like the lake and mountains being back (from where?) and "I leaned closer, but I wasn't close enough." (to see what the shadow?) But I really like the set up here and I'm interested in seeing what comes next.

  3. I really like your sensory descriptions but I got confused now and again. I lost touch to where she was and what was happening. I'm interested in what comes next to further this along thought. Great job and best of luck!

  4. I think this is great story and you have already hooked your reader. It is well written with wonderful sensory. I love the brevity of your opening line, and even the other ones, such as "I leaned closer, but I wasn't close enough" and "I blinked." My only suggestion is to not start with mentioning the snow capped mountaintops as the first thing she sees. I imagined the mountain was very cold, so I was confused when she felt heat from the window and said that where the mountain and lakes were it was warm. I had to go back and re-read the description to understand more clearly the setting of the mysteriously appearing mountain. Great job!

  5. I'm intrigued by this idea of being in one place and experiencing another.

    I might suggest this to start:
    I knew before I looked. I felt them, the lake and the mountains.

    Then a paragraph break, and continue with the tingling.

    Great sensory description.

    Here is an opportunity to be more specific: yet both were outside my window. Were what? Were present? Hovered? Waited for me? Filled the vista outside my window?

    Keep it up.

  6. I was really hooked by this until the last paragraph. Rhetorical questions are tough to work with, and I don't think they're necessary for first-person stories. They brought me right out of the story. Also, "supposed to be Autumn" is telling in two ways, telling about the season and telling us that someone (the author) is speaking for the MC rather than letting us listen in on her inner monologue.

  7. I am definitely intrigued. I loved the visual and the added senses.

    I would definitely read more.

    And, I like the voice and style.

    Thanks and good luck!

  8. I loved the first line too. I loved the whole idea of these mountains coming out of nowhere. I agree with some of the other comments about "that didn't change what I saw" and "I leaned closer, but not close enough." I was confused about the school. You said she was sixteen, but it seemed like a college. Is this a boarding school? Also, I couldn't picture how far these mountains were away. At first they sounded visible, but far away, but then they seemed right outside the window.
    Good luck!

  9. I found it intriguing, but a little confusing. But that means I need to read on to figure out what's going on! However, I don't like the last sentence. Sixteen-year-olds never go crazy? Good start, though.

  10. This is well written and really intriguing! I was hooked by the unexpectedness of the first line. I agree with Jennu Enzor's comment about depth perception and such, but I really enjoyed it and would like to read more and find out what's going on!

  11. I loved the idea and the voice here! My only quibble would be that it took me a minute to figure out whether my nose has "depths", which drew me out of the story - I think "back of my nose" or "back of my throat" would be more immediately recognizable.

  12. I really liked this. The descriptions were nice and put me there, and I could not only see that image of her pressing her finger to the window, but I could also feel the heat coming through it.

    It wasn't until the end that you lost me. That last parg was a huge spoiler, I thought. We already know the MC is looking out the window at school and that normally, there isn't a mountain and lake there, so there's no need to say it again. And it seems the MC is already beyond the point of wondering if he/she's crazy. This has happened before. The tingling sensation presaged that the mountain was coming, and the MC accepts that. It may be unexplainable, but it's real, to the MC and the reader, and that last parg takes that all away.

    I don't know what comes after that parg, but I'd suggest dumping it.

    I'd read more.

  13. I really enjoyed this. I love the idea of the mysterious mountains, and the descriptions made feel like I was experiencing this along with the main character. The last paragraph pulled me out of the story a bit, though, since it restates circumstances we already understand. This is a great hook, and I’d definitely keep reading to see where it goes.