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Losing Agir

by BettyH 

Posted: 23 June 2009
Word Count: 921
Summary: A kurdish boy is separated from his family as Turkish troupes attack his village. He is smuggled to the uk and meets Alice, a young person in care. Please find attached Prologue. Will it be enough to interest possible agents? Any comments gratefully received


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Prologue

South-East Turkey. 5am. 20 February.

The sudden thunderous crackle of machine gun fire, slicing through the still, early morning air, wrenched him from his sleep. As he pushed at the mound of blankets covering himself and Haran, his brother, he swung his head towards where his parents usually lay either side of his sister. His father was ahead of him, already scrambling to get up. For a second their eyes met. The panic, terror and confusion he found in his father's face shot a jolt, like an electric current, through his whole body.

'Up......get......' His father's words were lost, hijacked by a second round of gunfire, louder, sharper than before. His father carried on trying to speak, his mouth opening and shutting pointlessly, spewing out only the terrifying sound of ammunition.

The hut rocked. A row of bullets hit the outside wall above their heads. He understood his father's efforts. They needed to move. Fast. Stumbling to his knees, he pulled at his younger brother who lay still, unmoved, his hands stuck to his ears, his eyes shut tight.

'Move,' his father screamed. His mother grabbed at Sema, his little sister, wrapping her in her arms as she stumbled to her feet and headed towards the kitchen area of the hut. A fleeting flicker of relief swept over Sema's small bewildered face as mother's embrace, for a moment, made everything in her small life good again.

'Haran,' he shouted at his brother, pulling at his shoulders, shaking him. But a noise so deafening stopped him. An explosion, so loud, so close. He fell hard onto his brother's small body which still remained stuck, under the covers. Dust and dirt clogged his nostrils. Screaming, he wasn't sure from where, piercing through the air, announcing the arrival of some poor person's deep, painful, unexpected agony. Debris, stones, he wasn't sure what, covered his back. He moved, turned, managed to get to his knees. He could see sky as part of the wall of the hut had caved in on them.

His father's arms pulled at him, removing him from his brother who's face and head he had somehow protected by his own much larger body. They took an arm each, yanking Haran into the kitchen to join his mother and sister huddled together in the corner of the room.

'What's happening....?' he asked helplessly, crammed in the corner beside his mother, brother and sister as his father tried pathetically to shield them all from whatever was happening outside.

The door burst open, kicked in by a man wearing white camouflage gear. Waving a machine gun over his shoulder, he shouted something and three others, all dressed the same, carrying guns, stormed into the hut.

'Out. Now,' the man at the front shouted, pointing the gun at them. Another grabbed his fatherís hair, pulling him across the floor towards the broken down door. He clutched Haran's hand, making him move as his mother carried Sema who hung desperately to her.

They left the hut, by gun point, into the freezing air of early morning. Their thin bedclothes and socks within seconds failing to defend them against the snowfall which had tumbled relentlessly overnight on to their mountain village. They passed the remains of their neighbours hut. The bomb had done its job. The walls destroyed, the roof gone, rubble and smoke everywhere. And there she was. Sema's best friend. Lying on the floor with half her stomach blown away. Her broken body shattered in the precise spot where the two girls had played the evening before.

Stumbling ahead of them, trying to keep upright, the soldier kicked his father as he yanked him along by his hair. He took in the devastation. Soldiers, guns, everywhere as doors were kicked in and bewildered villagers hauled out of their homes at gun point. The clean air stunk of burning, as flames swallowed parts of the village. Horses, dogs, precious village livestock lay dead, shot point blank by soldiers and left to burn with the buildings.

They approached the village square.

'Over there.' The soldier dragging his father pointed his mother towards a group of women and children huddling together in a corner, indicating for her to join them.

'Quickly....move,' the men behind them shouted, waving their guns amongst the noise of the screaming and crying, the gunshots and flames. They stumbled through the slush, feet frozen. The cold wind smacked them hard in the face, like some bad tempered old man, perversely enjoying his contribution to their pain. As he was dragged away, his father tried to turn to look at his wife and children, just one last time but his head was cracked back as they marched him, like all the village men, off to the square.

With his mother and siblings, he reached the group of terrified women and children, people who saw each other every day, now united in their despair.

This oneís too old.í A soldier marched over. ĎPut him with the mení.

A firm hand grabbed his arm, pulled him away, dragging him towards the village square and to whatever lay in store there. He twisted his head amongst the chaos and noise, gathering about him like a whirlwind. He looked to the group of women, he searched for his family. With Haran and Sema hanging on to each other, their small faces in quiet shock, his mother held her arms out, as if trying to gather him back, to return him to her. Their eyes met, she screamed.

'Agir........................'







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Comments by other Members



NMott at 12:02 on 27 June 2009  Report this post
A powerful piece. Great start.


A few minor suggestions:

Watch out for words and phrases in the same short paragraph, eg, 'happened', 'wasn't sure'.
It might be helpful to the reader to have his mother or father shout his name in the early stages, eg 'Agir, get up!' Haran's name is repeated several times and at one point I got confused and thought that might be the main character's name.
'his father screamed' - I think men would shout and women scream, because scream is a high pitched sound. If a man's shot or dying then he might scream (like a woman).

I think you are deliberately keeping the name secret until the mother's scream at the end, but it does result in some confusion as to who is doing what in earlier sentences, when Agir is only refered to as 'He', eg:
'Out. Now,' the man at the front shouted, pointing the gun at them. Another grabbed his fatherís hair, pulling him across the floor towards the broken down door. He clutched Haran's hand, making him move as his mother carried Sema who hung desperately to her.
Is that one of the soldiers clutching Haran's hand, or Agir?
Again:
Stumbling ahead of them, trying to keep upright, the soldier kicked his father as he yanked him along by his hair. He took in the devastation.
On first reading it wasn't clear if it was the soldier, his father, or Agir being yanked by the hair.
It might be solved by putting Agir in place of 'He' in places, and changing 'They' to 'He' to keep it in Agir's 3rd person point of view. Or change it to first person. - Since it's a prologue you can use a different format to the main part of the book.



- NaomiM

<Added>

oops typo ...phrases repeated in the same short...

<Added>

oops ...being yanked by the hair... - I mean 'doing the yanking.'

<Added>

These are just minor points. I think a prologue like this would grab a reader's, and therefore an Agent's, attention.

<Added>

...It does set the bar high for Chapter One. As a reader I'm worried about Agir, and want to know what's become of him.

BettyH at 09:05 on 28 June 2009  Report this post
Thank you for your comments. I was keeping the Agir name quiet until the mother screamed at the end, but do agree it may well be confusing earlier on re who is being referred to. Will have a re-think on that one. After this, chapter one then takes us to the UK and a 15 year old moving into a new foster placement. Then in chapter 2 she meets Agir as he is too moved in. She finds him a bit confusing, he has a panic attack as she asks him about his family then the book springs back to his imprisonment by the Trukish army and again is written in 3rd person (whereas the UK stuff is all by the young girl in first person). There are then interspersed in the book, 2 other chapters dealing with Agir being smuggled into the UK, again in 3rd person. Does this mix sound workable or ring huge alarm bells? Thank you so much again for your feedback, much appreciated.

NMott at 15:17 on 28 June 2009  Report this post
Does this mix sound workable or ring huge alarm bells?


No, it doesn't ring alarm bells. As with all novels, the proof is in the pudding.

Account Closed at 10:24 on 26 August 2009  Report this post
I really like it, in fact the sentence "A fleeting flicker of relief swept over Sema's small bewildered face as mother's embrace, for a moment, made everything in her small life good again" actually brought a lump to my throat!

I agree with Naomi though that the "he, he he" is confusing. Another example:

As he was dragged away, his father tried to turn to look at his wife and children, just one last time but his head was cracked back as they marched him, like all the village men, off to the square.

With his mother and siblings, he reached the group of terrified women and children, people who saw each other every day, now united in their despair


It's not entirely clear if the father is being dragged away or Agir, or whose head is being cracked. Most of the time you can work it out from the context but it does make the reading quite hard work.

A suggestion - if you want to keep Agir's name secret until the end, how about referring to him as "the boy" or something, basically giving him SOME sort of a descriptive title so you don't have to keep calling him He all the time?

Also these are very minor criticisms, but I would remove some of the adjectives - the action is very powerful and you don't need additional adjectives to plump it up. For eg "a fleeting flicker" - IMO "a flicker" would do the job just as well, since it is, by definition, fleeting. "A sudden, thunderous crackle", I think we can infer that it's sudden, but (paradoxically) the inclusion of the word makes the sentence less sudden, as it takes the reader physically longer to read to the point (the gunfire).

You need to make a few teeny copy edits, "unmoved", I think you mean, "unmoving", "who's face", you mean "whose face", "by gun point", I think should read "at gun-point".

BettyH at 13:21 on 26 August 2009  Report this post
Thank you so much for this Florapost, very much appreciated. Thanks


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