Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #18

Title: Aqua Marine
Genre: YA Science Fiction

The heat sensor on Jed's control panel beeped, and he flicked to the surveillance screen on his Commpod. An armed soldier clutching a blue envelope was marching stern faced towards the house.

In 2025 the only things that came hand delivered by gun wielding officials were government documents. And the only document likely to be delivered to a high school student was an invitation to enlist, an invitation that could not be refused.

Biting back his anger, Jed met the soldier at the front door.

"Jed Ryan?"

He nodded, white knuckled fists clenched by his sides.

"This is for you." She thrust the document at him.

"Thanks." Uncurling one hand, Jed took the sealed envelope and flung it on the ground.

"Pick it up wise guy." The soldier shoved her gun in his face.

"Sorry." Jed sneered. She wouldn't shoot him, not someone that Commander O wanted for his elite teen marine corps.

With the gun trained on him, Jed bent and picked the document up between two fingers, as if it was contaminated.

The woman stepped closer, so close that her starched pants scraped his face as he stood.

She paused, then prodded the gun back into its holster and strode to her car.

As soon as the courier drove away, Jed tore the unopened envelope into small pieces and tossed it down the garbage chute.

* * *

Several streets away, Ava Linley was handed a similar document. Waving her blue envelope, she ran screaming into the house.


  1. I WANT MORE. It was clear, read easily and left me wanting more. I say job done. Soon though I would want more of an explanation of what is going on in this strange world.

    You could add some more description. Is this a nice neighborhood or is part of town that has seen better days? The setting can tell so much about the story.

    I don't see much of Ava, but I do have very big expectations of her, being a deep complex character. Hope that is the case.

    Have fun writing!

  2. What a fun opening. I would read more. I did stumble on a few word choices: 'prodded' (didn't quite fit the context of going into a holster) and 'courier' (previously referred to as soldier - maybe keep the consistency). Also, the line about the starched pants made me pause and reread. Maybe reword so that Jed standing is the main action instead of the pants scraping his face.

    Good job.

  3. Great opening! This is no letter to Hogwarts, but it is a letter that is about to rip this young man and his young neighbour out of their regular (and futuristic) lives. I like that the teenage protag has absolutely no power and the only way he can express his anger is through small acts of defiance in a manner that shows perhaps he is a bit of a hothead and will run into problems down the track. Would love to read more.

    1. Totally agree! Intriguing start - probably a few more hints of this world could go in the first couple of paragraphs, just to lay out the world more, something easy to adjust. And of course, given a couple more paragraphs further on we'd learn more of Ava. I would definitely keep reading.

  4. This in the first paragraph let's the reader know that the story matches the genre--great work! That's not easily done in the first 250 words!

    I think "stern faced" needs a hyphen "stern-faced". And "prodded" may not be the right verb there, as it means "to poke (someone)".

    Pronouns--there are a good amount in this first page. Try to eliminate some to tighten it up even more.

    I'm definitely intrigued and would keep reading. Awesome start! Good luck! :)

  5. I wanted to see the soldier's reaction to his bratty move, THEN pull her gun. I'd like to see his physical reaction to a gun being pulled on him. He might be the "right stuff," but he needs to flinch, or sweat or something even if he knows she won't shoot. When she steps closer she needs to SAY something. Just a few words, maybe with some foreshadowing.

    That being said, I liked the pacing and the tone and would keep reading.

  6. After such a build-up with Jed I'm really wondering abut Ava. Her waving/screaming sounds almost excited... A contrast to Jed's reaction. I'm curious to know where this goes next.

  7. I agree with the others as I would keep reading. This is a strong opening and really reels the reader in. I too found myself wondering about the word prodded and why the soldier stepped closer but then failed to act. Just something you might want to build on so that the scene is stronger.

    Overall, however, I really enjoyed this and would read on.

  8. It’s funny, as I was reading this, I was fairly ambivalent to Jed. I felt like reactions were missing. I get that Jed is cocky, but I feel like there should be some bit of surprise, etc. Be careful with your word choice (Prodded isn’t exactly the right word for her returning the gun to the holster) as well as your blocking. I like the imagery of her starched pants scraping his face, but imagine where his head would be as he stood if her pants were really that close. When the courier drove away, what is she driving? A regular old car? A flying machine? Etc. A few more setting cues, would be fantastic.

    However, what hooked me here was Ava’s reaction to getting a letter. I like the flip side from what is often seen: the guys excited for war; females dragging their feet. So for me, if Ava’s introduction hadn’t been there, I don’t think you’d have hooked me as strong as you did here. Nicely done!

  9. Interesting opening. And you got everything in on the first page. I know who the MC is. I know the problem. I know how he feels about the problem. It’s an interesting problem, and I’ve met the girl who will likely be a love interest later.
    So to offer you something - - -

    An armed soldier, clutching a blue envelope, marched stern-faced toward the house. It’s passive, as is. Whenever you say was or were verbing, cut the was or were (is or are if writing in present tense) and change the ing verb to an ed verb and you immediately change a passive sentence into an active one.

    2025 is less than ten years away. Is your world similar enough to this one that the reader will believe your world is possible in so short a time? Or is it different enough that perhaps you need to take it further into the future?

    . . . as if it WERE contaminated. I think. I’m not certain.

    Her pants scraping his face is kind of an icky image. Maybe it’s just me.

    And is Ava screaming with joy or fear?

    All minor stuff. A nice start.