Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #43

TITLE: Driving in Taipei
GENRE: Commercial Women's Fiction

The 747 banked a turn to aim for Chang Kai Shek International Airport as my own turn initiated to hope the right decision had been made. The smoggy, blue-lit dawn backlit my view to a city that defined urban sprawl. Through the small double paned window, development stretched as far as the eye could see, revealing the second most densely populated city in the world. Taipei. Hopefully it would be kind to me.

Fourteen hours from Los Angeles had me all but fused to the seat and when the sign finally darkened, I stood to reacquaint my backside with the novelty of circulation, feeling my injuries stiffen. I'd been on board so long I'd eaten three meals, watched two movies and nodded in and out for three hours of what couldn't be called napping. I'd walked the aisles at least seven times in an effort to avoid death from a freakish blood clot in my legs and the potential irony amused me - to have endured this horrendous year, only to die with my hide-out in sight. At this point I still hoped to avoid what I would only later realize didn't need a visa to visit a foreign country or a two thousand dollar plane ticket to follow me to the other side of the world. Panic and surrender.

My physicality was unique in this group, unusually tall, light blond, even my designer clothes couldn't blend in with people who had nothing to lose by appearing ordinary.

18 comments:

Women's Fiction Writer said...

I love the last paragraph/sentence! The rest is a bit confusing to me, thoughts on what's to come, an airplane trip, introspection -- all good stuff once we know something solid about the character that makes us really care about her.

I'd continue because of that last line. It shows she believes she has something to lose and that's worth finding out about.

Jade said...

Overall very good. I think a couple of the sentences are a bit long, you could break them up into two.

And "blue-lit dawn backlit". You might want to change one of the words so you don't use "lit" twice.

Nice work!

Emily Lavin Leverett said...

I'm not hooked. I find the first sentence confusing and hard to follow. The use of the passive "had been made" almost lost me. This is almost all "had verbed" pluperfect, which means that it is flashback, distant past. You could rewrite it all in simple past so that it is happenening now. As for the last line, if she is trying to hide, why stand out? Plus, the grammar is confusing. The immediate noun in relation to "unusually tall" is the group, not the girl, and yet it is Taipei, so it should be the girl (or maybe the guy, designer clothes made me think a woman).

The images have power, but I'm so confused by them that I have to pause to make sense of them. So "when the sign darkened" I had that extra beat to fill in "fasten seatbelt." There, the adjective might help me.

The last thing, this is first person, and you're keeping stuff from your reader. "injuries" makes me curious, as does "hide out," but I feel lost rather than swept up. I think it has a lot of potential, but I struggled with it.

Anonymous said...

I got confused in the sea of over done writing and sentence structure. I was lost my sentence three and therefore, unfortunately, not hooked.

rphnyc said...

Not hooked. The flight from LA to Taipai tells me nothing out of the ordinary; indeed, it conveys boredom in a very typical way. I suggest you find a new starting place.

Pamela Toler said...

I'm mildly curious about why she's on the run. Your description of coming down over Taipei is vivid. But you have two sentences that totally confused me--including the first one. I suspect you've got an interesting story, but you're not quite there yet.

Geri said...

There is a fun element of sassyness in the tone here that appeals to me. What if you start with the "fused to the seat" part, then looking out the window to see the city sprawl below? I would like to know more about the on-the-run part of her problem sooner, so maybe instead of recounting her in-flight exercise you could say more about that situation sooner? I like what you included about some major crisis that she's endured. It makes me curious to know what that was and how come she's flying so far and what she's hiding from. Good elements, take a deep breath and tell us the story.

Tatiana said...

It seemed slightly mechanical- too many adjectives describing and too little showing. I couldn't really get a sense of the main character's personality- instead of the description at the end, perhaps include a little bit of action?

Escape Artist said...

First line needs work. I had to read it a couple of times, which isn't a good thing. You'll be right. These great contests give us a chance to see what's not working and fix it!
Good luck.

Sara J. Henry said...

Way too much detail crammed in. Do we need to know it is a small, double-paned window? Very awkward first sentence. Too many adjectives. Not only do I not have a clue what this story is about, but I can't even tell if the tone is going to be serious or jokey. I think this needs a bit of work.

Tori said...

It lost me from the beginning. Long, overdescriptive sentences scrambled for attention when all I wanted to know was what the story was about. Someone posting earlier thought the MC was a woman, I thought it was a man.

Sarah said...

Not hooked I'm afraid. The first sentence didn't make sense to me and I had to read it again. I think you're trying to add in too much description. For example:

'At this point I still hoped to avoid what I would only later realize didn't need a visa to visit a foreign country or a two thousand dollar plane ticket to follow me to the other side of the world. Panic and surrender.'

could be:
'At this point I still hoped to avoid what - I would only later realize - didn't need a visa or a plane ticket to follow me. Panic and surrender.'

Not a great example, but just a quick one.

Also, there seems to be two voices here. A light hearted 'fun' one as in the 'freakish blood-clot' and a much more serious 'she's in life threatening danger' one.

There's something here but I think it needs rewriting in places. I'd like to read a revised version.

Holly Bodger said...

I agree with Sara. WAY TOO MUCH DESCRIPTION! Try to concentrate on only one visual image per paragraph so you give the reader time to really see it. Also, make sure you choose the image that best sets the scene.

I'd also suggest you clean up the other sentences so they are crisp and clean. You don't want to confuse your reader in the first 250 words.

paintgirl220 said...

Loved the sarcasm, I actually chuckled out loud. This has potential!

Barbara said...

Not hooked. If she's running away and trying to hide, would she be thinking all these mundane thoughts on the plane, or would she be wondering if she got away without being noticed by whoever she's hiding from? Would she wonder what her new life might be like here? I'm getting that her situation is supposed to be serious yet she doesn't seemed concerned or worried. If she's not worried, why should the reader be?

Toni Kenyon said...

Sorry, I'm not hooked. I got lost on the first sentence and couldn't really find my way back. There are a few gems in there. I liked "...reacquaint my backside with the novelty of circulation,..." You also intrigued me with "freakish blood clots". I know you've got a great idea, I'm just not able to see it yet, with what you have given me.

Secret Agent said...

I like that this MC is running away from something unknown to the reader. Unfortunately,
I thought the writing was too heavily descriptive and , at times, awkwardly executed to the point of confusion. I had a hard time getting connected to this character and story
because I couldn't make sense of much of it.

For example,"as my own turn initiated to hope the right decision had been made," is confusing.
I think you need to refocus on clarity rather than literary device. The dual use of "turning"
isn't worth the cleverness if it detracts from making sense of this.

"At this point I still hoped to avoid what I would only later realize didn't need a
visa to visit a foreign country or a two thousand dollar plane ticket to
follow me to the other side of the world. Panic and surrender." This is much too long
and awkward. Could you rephrase it?

"unusually tall, light blond, even my designer clothes couldn't blend in with people who had nothing to lose by appearing ordinary." I don't understand why she says"EVEN" her designer clothes. Is she trying to blend in by wearing them? But,if people have nothing to lose by appearing ordinary, why would she wear designer duds?

tanyamaikai said...

I tripped over that first sentence, had to read several times before I thought I understood. I liked the "fused to the seat" image and I wish it were stronger instead of buried after the "had me all but". See if you like saying that she's "actually" fused to it. Cut the first explanation that she's been in the plane for 14 hours and her description of the flight will be stronger. As it is, I already know she was on the plane for 14 hours so it feels repetitive. I like your strong descriptions though!