Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #17

Title: Through a Glass Darkly
Genre: YA Science Fiction


The paper begins to whirl as sheet after sheet is printed. No notice pops up on my screen; so this is not a fax. Um, I didn't click anything. Everyone else is already gone for the day. Who sent the print order? This is an EEP town and the government does not raise kids for nothing. Problems don't happen. That's not why we're here. What is going on?

I drag myself into a standing position, missing my friends, who have all recently been redistributed, transferred, or just busy. Not all, but enough have. We do more work than some adults I know. I, for one, am lacking particular purpose. This has been a long day and every long moment has felt meaningless. I have to keep myself from getting excited about the random printing. There is no mystery here, only a malfunction.

Usually my training is used for more advanced things than printers. Defrag. I wired this thing about a year ago, so any issues are on me. I fiddle with the screen and get into the program itself. Okay, not a printer issue. There is a clear print command, just not mine. Weird. I set my computer to be the only communicator. No one else can print here. Printer is saying that it came from me. Oh, and that is right, sort of. It came from my email. So much for a smart printer. Not just anyone could do it, but enough could. Can I trace the email?


  1. This is a very different style. It seems to be all stream of consciousness. Without context, it is a bit confusing. Although I've been around people who think/talk like this, it's difficult at the beginning of a story without knowing if this is an average kid for this world or a 'different' type. It looks like something interesting will happen. The mc will have to trace the email to find out who sent the print command. But without knowing why a print job requires that sort of investigation, it isn't enough to hook me. If the item being printed was 'illegal' or something that indicated why this is an issue, it might help ground all the internal thoughts with an external problem.

  2. Tough to follow, I'll admit. I need a few setting tags. Seems to be a teenager in an office, but it could be a robot too. Have the narrator sip a drink, scratch an itch, or fiddle with something which shows their age, or personality, or something physical and real.

    Give us a hint to the larger world, and some tension. Did the last fax cause trouble for someone? Why is he staying late? Is he behind on some task? Is it eerie being alone there? I need some regular old human sweat and farts and belly rumbling. Pretty please.

  3. For me this beginning is too focused on the machinery rather than the people. Even if the machinery becomes a character in the story (given the title and genre) start with the human. He's packing up after a long weary day. Everyone else is gone. His printer clicks on. That's weird. He/She wants to leave. But he must stay and fix the problem because the consequences are dire if he doesn't.

    The second issue is the setting. It could be an office in any office building in the world. Consider adding a few significant details to hint where this action takes place.

    This doesn't read Syfy to me. Is there a way to add a few details to hint at that?

    Openings need to establish who, where and when. I'm sorry but I'm not picking up those elements here.

  4. This is written in a perspective I'm not accustomed to reading, which may be one reason I had trouble following it.
    I think that while her job and what she does at it may be relevant, you might start off with more action that can include hints of the story to come, rather than her day-to-day job functions. There is a hint at something going on underneath, but I feel like I'm reading blind without more description. I can't really place myself in her shoes. Or his shoes?

    Good start and keep plugging away. It could shape out to be a great story. Good luck!

  5. The mystery of what's printed -- unasked, now that's cool. The references to dragging the POV, also good question raising of why. The last graf could be replaced with the mystery of what's printing, what an EEP town is and where the POV friends have gone.

  6. The mystery of what's printed -- unasked, now that's cool. The references to dragging the POV, also good question raising of why. The last graf could be replaced with the mystery of what's printing, what an EEP town is and where the POV friends have gone.

  7. While it’s an interesting and a bit on the unusual side style-wise, it’s strangely captivating. Stream of consciousness is often hard to pull off and you’ve done that here. The third paragraph is a bit at odds with itself — the section about the printer says it came from me and that is right sort of. Because your MC is so excited about a malfunction/random printing, acknowledging it sort of came from them feels off to me.

    That being said, I do want a few more tags in here to give me an idea of setting (like what EEP is) and the gender/age of our MC. This is something, though, I’d definitely keep reading!

  8. This was a bit difficult to get into. I don’t know who the MC is, or even if they’re male or female. And the problem is with a machine rather than an individual, so there’s no dialogue. I am assuming the problem will be something major, mysterious, or intriguing, that will lead into your plot, but there are no hints of that on the page. And there is virtually no action. The MC fiddles with the screen and stands up.

    You could make it more interesting if you showed us the MC’s boredom, his sudden excitement at the problem (you tell us he’s excited, but because you tell us, we don’t see or feel it. Showing will make that happen.) Maybe before you get into the stuff with the printer, show a co-worker leaving for the day who says ‘Bye, Tom or Mary” so we know who we’re dealing with. And find a way to make what is happening more mysterious, or interesting, or problematic – whatever mood you want us to feel. You might even start somewhere else.