Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #17

GENRE: Adult Speculative Fiction Suspense

My life evaporates like a vivid dream fading upon waking as I soar through the black air. It’s not too late to stop this from happening, but that would be worse. This is what must be done. I fall… fall… fall until there’s nothing.


I’m somewhere between floating and sinking, between awake and dreaming. I’m weightless, yet heavy at the same time.

My eyes burn when I open them. I gasp for air, but it’s water that floods up my nose and clogs my throat. It’s cold and stinks like wormy mud. Short labored coughs come nonstop to reject it until stinging air fills my lungs.

My feet search for the ground; it’s not there. Water pushes trying to carry me away, but only burying me deeper into the heap of wires I’m tangled in. They poke and scratch my skin, and pull my hair. I grab onto one and it snaps. They’re not wires, branches. I’m caught in a fallen tree. I grip the trunk to pull myself up, but the current wins and bark wedges under my nails as I slide back down.

No. I am not going to drown.

I reach for the trunk again, kicking my leg over to pull myself on top. Gasping for breaths, I take in the darkness touched only by moonlight and the hum of crickets. Everything is out of focus, including my mind.

How did I get in the river?


  1. This is very vivid imagery and I can feel your MC's panic, but I admit the excerpt leaves me feeling a bit confused. I'm not sure where your MC is, or why. I realize 250 words is brief, but maybe you could find a way to ground it just a bit so the reader isn't left feeling like they don't know what's going on.

  2. I agree with Mary. I don't know what's going on. Granted, it's Spec fiction, which often starts with us scratching our heads, but I was confused as to whether the MC was drowning, stuck in a tree and only thought he was drowning, or is dreaming, or perhaps hallucinating.

    The imagery is nice but could be more effective if the MC reacted to it in some way. What is he thinking and feeling? Perhaps telll us less of what the water is doing and more of what the MC is doing.

    I'd give it a few more pages.

  3. Confused. Falling through air, stuck in water, then it's wires, no its branches. In a tree in the water? Is this a dream? I hope not. You need to get us where he is much sooner. Someone somehow in a river should be where you begin. We need to know the MC and sympathize with his plight in order to keep going. Just trim this down and you'll be there.

  4. I love the imagery but I think you should begin in a different spot. Don't begin with a dream/waking sequence. Those are pretty much no-no's when opening a novel. I think it would be better to begin with the line 'My feet search the ground...' Also, who is your mc? He/she? (we don't know who your protag. is) Maybe their mind goes to the last place they remember. This is where you can give us something about your mc, so we care about him or her from the start. We need that to keep reading on. Good luck!

  5. It's a shame I've read so much MG right before this, because I'm afraid it's biasing my opinion a bit. The writing seems lyrical and pretty, but almost too much so at the moment. I don't want to use the word forced, but I feel like we're maybe starting in a dreamscape and this is meant to be a wordplay dance. If the character is truly being pulled down the river, I think the sense of confusion and fear should be predominate over the sense of weightless floating and searching (dreamlike). Given this, though, and the beginning, I wonder if this is meant to be a suicidal attempt? Did they purposely fall and now the rest is a dream? The writing is pretty, so I don't feel like I need to stop reading, but I'm confused about the state of reality.

    Things I liked:
    • lyrical writing with a touch of tension

    • unsure about the current state of reality
    • feel like we are being given too many questions of plot without a foundation of character