Thursday, October 16, 2008

29 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Revenant Summer
GENRE: young adult paranormal

Dusk was settling over the lake. Fireflies blinked on and off over the meadow, and the houses across the water were aglow with orange light.

It was almost eight. My mother was supposed to have arrived with my cousins over two hours ago, but I hadn't heard from her since noon. As I waited, all sorts of horrific accidents flashed in my mind, making me sick with worry. And yet-- some part of me felt relieved that she hadn't come.

Just a few more hours to myself, I thought. The last free night before the arrival of my fledging sociopathic cousins. Then I winced, practically hearing my mother's voice admonishing me for being a drama queen. Okay, so they weren't sociopaths, just complete jerks, which was worse in a way because at least sociopaths had a clinical excuse while my cousins had none.

I stared down from the porch at the indigo lake. That's when I saw the boy coming from the woods.

He was my age, or maybe a few years older. His lips moved slightly as though he were talking to himself.

I waited for him to say something, a simple 'hi' to acknowledge he was walking through someone's yard, but he didn't. Instead, he stared at me in this intense, disturbing way, as if he were waiting for me to do something crazy. Rather ironic, since he was the one acting strange. Then, as he got closer to the house he altered his path and came up the porch.


  1. The first few paragraphs didn't hook me and I almost skipped over the post. I'm glad I didn't. If I were you, I'd open with:

    "I stared down from the porth at the indigo lake and saw the boy coming from the woods. He was my age . . ."

    And continue on from there. If the information about mother and the cousins is important, work it in later. If the boy is coming to explain what happened to her mother, you can work in the info about mom then.

  2. I see places where you could tighten this. The opening has some telling that's best avoided and is almost too passive. But I like the scene and voice and I'd keep reading.

  3. No, I'm sorry. The beginning paragraphs seemed too slow, too descriptive to really hook me. I like the last part though, about the boy coming up toward the house.

  4. I'm not really a fan of openings that start with the character not doing anything but thinking about their current situation. The arrival of cousins isn't really a powerful hook, IMHO, to push me into reading further.

    Maybe start with the guy walking across her yard. That's action and something usual happening, and the backstory/infodump can be woven in gently rather than being dropped all at once.

    Also, I'd recommend mentioning the MC's name in this first section as not knowing tends to put a lot of agents off a story.

  5. I like the voice and humorous comments about the protagonist's cousins, but I feel the scenic descriptions could do with some trimming. Get to the strange boy faster and show us more about him. Right now, him muttering and walking across a lawn doesn't hook me.

  6. I'm hooked, but do agree it could be stronger starting with the boy coming from the woods. Though I do like the opening description, so maybe just trim from the middle to get to the boy faster.

  7. I actually liked the idea of the two sentence intro about the lake and the meadow. I prefer to have a beat of stability before jumping into action. However, if I were to improve those two sentences, I would have the author make them seem less generic and more indicative of the narrator's voice. I then might move to the strange boy, rather than a rumination about the mother and the cousins. The elements are here, but they just need to be reorganized.

  8. Somewhat hooked... I'm not sure if I get the main character. I think it's passiveness or something in that quarter. Shouldn't she feel a bit more fear about being home along and watching a strange guy walking out of the woods...?

    There might be too much passive voice going on here too...

  9. It feels a bit slow at the beginning, but I think I like the contrast between the peacefulness of the setting and the turmoil of the narrator's mood. Or I would if I were more fully into her anxiety. Perhaps showing some of the possibilities the narrator is imagining would be better? And after she's said she's imaginging horrific accidents, "making me sick with worry" is a bit redundant.

    I like the "Okay, so they weren't sociopaths . .." section. The voice is nice here.

    I'm intrigued by the guy at the end, but don't feel too worried. Is that what you're going for?

    It's not a strong hook for me, but I'm interested enough to want to go on.

  10. Too passive in the beginning. I'd go with what just joan said and open with the boy coming out of the woods. That's where it started to get my interest.

  11. If you started it at the third paragraph instead, I'd say I'm hooked. The first two did nothing for me and didn't hook me at all; but when she mentions her cousins, I was amused and wanted to read on, as from there it actually got interesting.

    Good luck,