Thursday, November 13, 2008

32 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Living in Fairytales
GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy

I was sitting at the table eating my breakfast when she came in.

“Good morning.” I said.

“Your pants make you look like the elephant,” she said in her cute little French accent. “I would not have thought it possible but I think you are fatter now than you were when I came two months ago.”

I scooped a syrup drizzled forkful of pancake into my mouth and smiled.

She grabbed a rice cake and started walking to school. I waited a few minutes until she was a safe distance ahead and then I started after her. What on earth had I been thinking when I asked my mom if we could have an exchange student? I guess I was thinking we’d get a sweet South American girl who would be thrilled to live in the U.S. and could be like the sister I never had. Things never work out like I plan.

I was just a few steps behind Dominique when we got to school. Her diet of rice cakes, grapefruit, and water must have made it difficult for her to walk quickly but she didn’t care as long as she could walk in size zero pants.

I trailed behind her through the main hall. Nearly every boy’s eyes followed her and she pretended to be oblivious to the attention. Almost every guy at the school had asked me about her since she came to stay with us in January.

“What does she like to do for fun?”


  1. I'm intrigued as to how this will all turn into fantasy.

    I found the beginning a little off-putting. If someone said my pants made me look like an elephant, I wouldn't be thinking that her voice was cute. I'd be thinking of it in an equally rude way. It took my a while to realize that they new each other, but obviously they're not friends.

    "Scooping a forkful of pancake..." You scoop with a spoon not a fork. The sentence is great, just change to verb to something more fitting.

    "She grabbed a rice cake and started walking to school...." When did they leave the building? Where they outside eating on the patio?

    "I guess I was thinking..." Unnecessary. It's obvious she's thinking the next part. Perhaps: Maybe that we'd get ...

    Also cut that sentence into smaller parts for emphasis: And I'd finally get the sister I always wanted.

    "I was just a few steps...['just' isnt' necessary.] when we arrived [instead of got to] at school."

    "Her diet of rice cakes...." Why would it make it difficult to walk quickly. Be specific. Is she bloated? Lacking energy?

    Again, very curious as to how this all becomes a fantasy. That in itself would cause me to feed a little further.

  2. I love the opening, the elephant comment and then the narrator eating the pancakes.

    I would change the pancakes line to "forkful of syrup-drizzled pancake" so it flows better and all the adjectives are in the correct place.

    I would also change "started walking to school" to "left for school" since it wasn't immediately obvious they'd left the house.

    The part about the sweet South American girl seemed kind of demeaning to me; there are lots of really great South American cities and I'm sure their inhabitants don't count a visit to America as the pinnacle of their lives. Maybe just say "a sweet girl from a tiny, poor village" or something.

    Also didn't understand why her diet made it difficult to walk.

    but I love this idea, and the opening.

  3. I'd say to flesh out the beginning a little more. I was jarred a bit when they were in the kitchen eating one minute and walking to school outside the next.

    I don't know if it's entirely believable that the first thing the mean exchange student would say is "Your pants make you look like an elephant." I know what you are going for here, but maybe it should be more subtle and not so overt? The reason being that if the Exchange Student is a Major Character it'll be hard to hold the reader's tolerance for her over the course of a whole book (?) But take these comments with a grain of salt -- I don't read fantasy.

    As someone who had a very popular older brother I can feel this MC's pain, and I think this is a worthy idea. She wants a sister she never had and instead gets stuck with a nasty but pretty girl that everyone at school is lusting for, while she gets ignored. Yeah, I've been there.

  4. Sorry, not really hooked. I think the flow was okay, the subject matter just isn't something I'd be interested in reading.

  5. YES. Great voice and strong writing - you have us sympathizing with the character from the top when she's called 'the elephant'. :)

  6. the writing seems a bit stilted. And it was distracting how suddenly they went from breakfast to going to school. But it does seem like a fun idea

  7. Honestly I'm not sure if it hooks me like I thought it would.

    It's interesting though.

    Good luck!

  8. I'd like to keep reading to see where this is going. I liked the size 0 pants line.

  9. Interesting set up for a YA book. I’d probably read at least until the end of the chapter to see what elements of fantasy you’ve introduced to this world.

    I would recommend, though, giving us your narrator’s name as soon as possible, as I know this is a major turn off for some agents and readers (myself included).

  10. I'm partially hooked. I was jarred at the sudden "eating breakfast now walking to school" transition, or lack thereof. The subject matter is interesting and I'd also like to know the fantasy elements put into the story, so I'd keep reading. You've received a lot of good suggestions, though, and I agree with most all of them.

  11. I like this premise a lot.

    I think the writing needs a little work. I would suggest slowing down just a little. What does the MC see and hear? Sitting at the table, the French girl comes in, in her size zero pants and is rude and insulting in her cute French accent. I think the size zero pants needs to come in with our first glimpse of the girl so we understand where the elephant line is coming from.

    Why does the MC say "good morning" to the French gal? It made me think they were friends and then I was jolted to hear the French gal give the insult.

    That said, I think there is a lot of wit in this and the conflict is promising.

  12. I like your writing style and the introduction of the two characters, but I didn't click with the MC. I'm going to be honest with you, I think I find this apparently elephantine person who's shoveling food into his? her? face a little icky. Which I realize is an unfair bias, but it's the one I'm having. :-(

    Would I read on? Yeah, I'd keep going to see what happens next. :-)

  13. Needs some work with transitions.

    I like the voice of the protag but much of this is a little confusing. How can the Dominique tell the pants make the protag look fat when the protag is sitting down?