Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #6

TITLE: Panic
GENRE: Adult women's fiction/general fiction

I can’t breathe.

The chatter swirls around me like physical waves, pushing and pulling, dragging me in unexpected directions with the force of a vicious undercurrent. I stagger to my feet. My right knee buckles. I suck in a breath, and hold it, waiting.

My legs turn to unstable, gelatinous, sticks of nothingness. I take a tentative step forward, expecting my trembling legs to collapse. Surprisingly, I remain upright. My eyes bulge under a sudden, enormous pressure. My vision swims out of focus.

I can’t breathe.

A tight pain lands in my chest, my breathing is weak and shallow, my head spins. I grip onto the bar counter to steady myself. The barman is looking at me. He slides me another WKD. I wrap my sweaty hand around the cool bottle and press it to my flushed forehead.

I can’t breathe!

I stumble away from the bar, backing into someone, and mutter an apology. The bar is thick with cigarette smoke that has wafted in from outside. The DJ in the corner is moving to his beat. Everyone is talking, laughing. I wince against the noise and push through the stagnant crowd.
Outside. The glare of the evening summer sun makes me squint. Everything is intensely bright. Sunbeams bounce off cars and metal drains and windows in buildings making everything twice as bright. The reflections become an army of piercing laser beams that seem to attack my skin, making it sting and prickle, and make me wish for an old-fashioned shield and some sunglasses.


  1. I can feel your mc’s distress, but I can’t really visualize the setting until the second to last paragraph. Maybe consider moving your first two paragraphs to in between the last two. Then the reader can visualize the mc’s setting from the start. Just a suggestion. Good luck!

  2. I like how it feels like your mc is drowning, and then you realize she's in a bar, surrounded by people. My only suggestion would be to pick and choose your metaphors, as trying to figure them out took away a bit from the setting and plot. Great start!

  3. This wasn't believable to me. This woman seems to be having a heart attack. It seems she knows it. Instead of sitting down, pulling out her cell phone, and dialing 911, she struggles through a crowd, even though she thinks her legs will collapse beneath her and she won't make it, and then when she finally gets outside, all her worries, panic, and shortness of breath disappear and she decides to admire the scenery.

    Even if she's not having a heart attack (perhaps it's a panic or anxiety attack) might her reaction outside be one of relief, and thank God I made it through that, rather than admiring the scenery? Think about eliminating that last parg.

  4. I'm particularly interested in the genre of this one, so I'm hoping I'm going to love it!

    The "can't breathe" beginning feels a bit cliché, but (for me, at least) the writing here outweighs that. I would love to keep reading and see what is going on.

    Interestingly, my first read through I thought there was an antagonist of some sort causing her to be overly anxious. Upon the second read-through, however, it is suddenly apparent to me that she is probably just intoxicated. I wonder if that's because I was biased from the title.

    Things I liked:
    • weaves in and out of character and setting nicely
    • writing is well executed
    • nice rhythm set up with the inner dialogue

    • ends before I know what's going on
    • I have no idea where this book is going