Thursday, July 17, 2008

#106 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

Title: Craning
Genre: Young Adult



Last summer, the arsonist struck every home on the block but ours. The first fire erupted in the Kinneys’ luau pit. By the time the firemen arrived, the Kinneys’ patio, which they called a “lanai,” was as charred as an offering to the volcano gods.

I joined the huddle across the street. Despite everyone’s frowns, all eyes gleamed. Why? Cause Lionel Kinney shrieked at anyone who parked near his property, even though he had a three-car garage. Cause Bianca Kinney never said hi unless she was about to ask you to baby-sit for Kyle and Kiki, their twelve-year-old twins of terror, neither conjoined nor identical, yet still achieving novelty points for having been spawned via fertility treatments.

Every time a window exploded, we “ooohhhed” as if on an amusement ride. I wished I’d brought my cell phone so I could send a picture to my best friend, Ruby, a big-time believer in karmic retribution.

The smoke smelled like plastic, and my eyes itched. But I had no interest in going home. I’d been too depressed to sleep earlier. It felt liberating to cry in public without anyone suspecting my tears weren’t smoke related. Not that I was some kind of exhibitionist.

I rubbed my eyes to get a better view of Bianca pushing against a man wearing coveralls. Although it was two a.m., she wore lipstick. I wondered if she’d gone to bed fully made-up, like a sitcom mom, or if she’d taken a moment while running for her life.

28 comments:

  1. You absolutely grabbed me with that first sentence. Frankly, the entire first paragraph makes me envious. I loved the volcano gods line.

    I think you're trying to imply that the neighbors aren't very nice in the second paragraph, yes? It took me a while to reason that out though, maybe make it just a little clearer? I do like how you're showing us their nastiness rather than telling.

    I absolutely love the voice, although I'm really wondering how old this narrator is. This is YA, so I'm assuming a teen, but it sounds pretty old.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You got me. I really liked all of it. The only off note for me was the thing about the twins--I really don't think twins are much of a novelty anymore, esp. not those from fertility treatments. It has become pretty common. Perhaps their novelty is inherent evil? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes.
    This is great. I really like the voice.
    Perhaps Bianca is really grossly descriptive about her infertility, and how she overcame it?
    I've met people like that, as if I want to know, or it's any of my business when they take their injectibles, or what the outcome of various tests were. Eeeewwww.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm sorry... no.

    Even though this is well written, I didn't get a feel for the narrator. Who is she/he? Just a nosy poke or...?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think this is a great, interesting way to kick off the story and get a feel for the neighborhood atmosphere and characters!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Huh? What? I like that the opening feels like someone recounting a story in a casual conversation, but some of the sentences are too awkward against each other. And there's this feeling that the writer is trying to be too clever sometimes. I'd read on, but if doesn't cohere a lot more in the next page, I'd put it down.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I loved the first paragraph. I didn't want to stop reading. However, by paragraph two, I was itching to get into the present, find out why this affects the MC now.

    I found the use of "cause" rather then "because" to start a sentence a bit clunky. Great voice though.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes. I really like this. Did you enter the first sentence contest on Nathan Bransford's blog a while back? For some reason, I feel like I've read the first line before (but I love it, it's a great line!)

    Emily H

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like this but I got confused by her crying and the reference to all the other fires. But the stuff about the Kinneys is all great.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good voice. We already know a lot about the narrator, neighbors and two nasty twins. My favorite line is the last about taking time for lipstick.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bravo! Great voice & characterization. I don't have a clue beyond "arsonist" what the plot might be, but I like your "voice" enough to keep reading. I was confused by the crying.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I really enjoyed this and would read on for sure! The only thing that threw me a bit was the mc stating that this happened last summer, then her talking about her depression as though it were a current thing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I like the voice and the humor, but I was confused with the crying. It would be nice to get just one little clue about why she was depressed and why she's crying now. Does her depression relate at all to the fire? Does it make her think of what happened earlier?

    I liked the part about the twins. I thought it was funny. And I like the line about the best friend believing in karmic retribution. It tells a little bit about the friend.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I really like this, so would read on, but don't find much novelty in twins. As was mentioned above, it would need to get a bit more cohesive pretty quickly to keep me reading after this page. The lipstick line was brilliant.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I like this, but the twin comment seems out of place. I also am a bit confused about a fire in a luau pit. Are they suppose to contain fires? How did the fire spead to the house to break out all the windows?

    I would continue reading this.


    jerzegurl

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yeah, great stuff.

    You opened well, and followed this up with a succinct picture of not only the Kinneys, but the neighbourhood and POV characters.

    Excellent job. Best entry I've read so far.

    Good work. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yes. Love the snark factor here. The voice is strong, and you did a great job of presenting a quick snapshot of the neighborhood and the characters. The last line is dynamite. I was confused a bit about the crying; I'd like to see some hint at the reason for the tears. Otherwise, great stuff! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I definitely liked it and would read more. Just maybe tweak the line about the twins-- it's a very long and awkwardly-phrased line. But other than that, I liked the MC's voice and her opinions on the neighbors. Maybe just draw in more of the five senses and really make us smell the smoke and burnt plastic right along with the MC.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Yep. The first line definitely hooked me. I liked the character's voice and how she's definitely flawed. Seems like something I'd enjoy reading. :D I was a bit confused by the part about her crying -- it didn't quite seem to fit. I wanted to know why she was depressed right away, instead of being left to wonder about it. Nonetheless, I like it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yes, I'd read a little more. I like the voice so far, and the touches of humor work well. The fourth paragraph rambles for me and seems beside the point. I'd prefer to know more about the plot before committing to reading much further.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Slightly hooked.

    I liked the voice, and the bit about the neighbors and karmic retribution....after I figured out the neighbors were nasty. But it was a little stifled because arson isn't exactly funny when it happens to a whole block (I don't know that everyone on the block is as mean as the Kinneys). Yet it's stated like it was an adventerous thing that happened one summer. I didn't understand why the MC was crying, either.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'd read more. This is the first piece here that I've read that got me to laugh out loud. Needs some adjustments/polishing (I'll leave the advice to other critters), but I like :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Yes! I love the voice and humor and the siltation (arson) immediately grabs me. Very nice job--I would read on.

    Good luck,

    ~Merc

    ReplyDelete
  24. The second para feels a bit jerky, and doesn't really flow from or into the preceding/following paras, but with a bit of polishing this would be a yes :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Yes, hooked. Great voice and immediately engaging setup--why didn't they get hit? I'd absolutely want to see more. I'd almost like to see a snarky comment about the "lanai" bit which might establish place--I'm assuming this is not Hawaii which makes their insistence on "lanai" funnier/more obnoxious.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Oooh, very cool. The little picky things everyone else mentioned need work, but the overall sensation from me is still "oooh, cool!" (grin)
    -AMY-

    ReplyDelete
  27. Yup. Loved the narrative voice and plenty of great hooks in here. I'd totally read on.

    ReplyDelete