Wednesday, January 14, 2009

9 SECRET AGENT

TITLE: Apple of Discord
GENRE: YA

Dad’s hands jittered on the steering wheel as we drove past the “Welcome to Bethany Hills!” sign. I could see his eyes searching for something, anything to talk about.

“This looks like such a nice little town, honey.” His eyes darted to my face like a skittish sparrow.

I refused to turn my head, but my eyes, hiding behind lavender framed shades, were watching him. Hours ago a veil of clouds slid overhead, threatening snow, making my sunglasses pointless, but I still needed their protection.

“Look! There’s the village square, and the forest, I think, is out that way,” he said, pointing west. “The realtor said there are some nice farms near the forest, but we’re living north where all the neighborhoods are. Our neighborhood is called Will O’ the Wisp—isn’t that charming? And we’ll be living on Foxglove Lane. The house has a huge back yard with a fence, which will be great for Baskie.”

Stop blathering, Dad! All his yammering made my head swim.

“That’s nice, Dad.” A sigh slipped out as I reached back to pat my giant black shaggy dog who blanketed the back seat of our tiny Volkswagen Beetle. Baskie snuffled to acknowledge the pat, but didn’t bother to raise his head from his paws. I knew he was thinking of chasing seagulls on the beach—we both were. But it had been so long, and so many moves since then.

“Hey! Before we go to the house, do you want to see where I’ll be working?”

29 comments:

Sarah Erber said...

I'm not sure yet.

It would hook me more if something strange happened on the first page.

On the other hand, it was very well written.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm hooked.

I especially like: Stop blathering, Dad! All his yammering made my head swim. We get a taste of her voice which is hard to do with the rather one-sided dialogue.

Great job!

LMT said...

I like this but I'm not quite hooked.
I can tell she's mad that they have had to move many times, and Dad is trying to make the best of it. But he seems overly jittery. Is there something more to this? If so, I would like more of a hint. Do they move so much because they are on the lam or in a witness protection program? That would make me turn the page.

Sheila said...

I agree, this is nicely written. It just needs a bit o' something to compel me to read further. Teen angst over a move is all we got.

Also, the bit about the dad blathering had a hint of authorial intrusion - I felt that the girl would have already known these basics - the name of the neighborhood, the street, the nice elements of the house. It would be more effective if he blathered about things they didn't already know. Just my two cent.

Nice, though.

John Zeleznik said...

I'm not completely sold.

The jitteriness of the father concerns me. It must be important because you make such a point of bringing it up, but it does more to confuse me than interest me.

Some of the language is a little iffy..."isn't that charming," "Stop blathering" both made me look twice. I don't hear many kids using expressions like that...unless you are showing something about the main character.

Sarah Jensen said...

Not sure here. The writing is good, and I'd keep reading, but...just not sure.

Angela said...

I wasn't quite hooked. I did get a good sense of her angst through her silence. I guess I'd like a bit more of an idea as to why they're moving.

Good luck with this and thanks for sharing.

ink wench said...

Agree with the others. This is nicely written, but it's not hooking me. The set up--moving to a new town--is done a lot, so I'd really need to see something cool and interesting to grab me in a beginning like this. Tough to fit that into the first 250 words, though! Good luck!

Jarucia said...

Could be interesting, but to be honest, this line completely turned me off of the MC:

Stop blathering, Dad! All his yammering made my head swim.

Sure, the MC is an angry, angsty youth, but this just paints them as awfully rotten...like a Veruca Salt.

I don't think I could stomaching despising the MC like that right from the beginning.

Authoress said...

I'm not hooked, and I think it's because her father's dialogue (monologue?) didn't feel authentic to me. I think maybe you've tried too hard to make it sound like he's trying too hard, if that makes sense.

You've done a good job of capturing your protag's "'tude." Especially keeping her sunglasses on.

Bethlene said...

The stuff the dad says is a little like info dumping. If you could make it more normal conversation, it would be more interesting.
I might read more to see if I can get hooked. MC could get interesting, her attitude is funny.

mermensing said...

I am hooked.

I loved the babbling father.

I would tighten the sunglasses paragraph. For instance, "my eyes....were watching him" can be a more direct "I watched him..."

"Stop blathering Dad!" would probably go better with. "Your yammering makes my head swim!"

It seems like his daughter has his cajones in a vise.

They're not in some flea bag hotel or crummy rent house, so they have money. What's the deal?

I hope it's more than just a job. If it is, throw a little hint in somewhere. Gotta get a whiff of conflict. I want to feel like I need to fasten my seatbelt before I turn the page.

Great characters.

Trish said...

Great writing. I would read on, but it needs a littl more of a hook for the firt page.

I loved her thoughts.

Megs said...

Not yet.

I was halfway hooked, but your descriptive words need work, starting with the jittering hands.

beth said...

I started getting distracted with so many references to eyes so early on. I liked the comparison to a skittish sparrow, but felt the rest were repetitive. (Although I realize this is a bit hypocritical since mine on here overuses the word "change")

I also felt that there was a bit of repetition within the narration. For example: "Stop blathering, Dad! All his yammering made my head swim." I thought the first line summed it all up--the second line was redundant to me. They both said the same thing, but the first line also used voice well.

Just my thoughts! Hope they help!

blodwyn said...

Not hooked on the dad but hooked on the daughter if that makes sense. Love that she wears the shades for other kinds of protection. I would like to know her name by this point, so perhaps switching the "honey" to her name would help. I agree with the poster who said that his information seems like a plot dump - they'd have talked about that before I would think.

Charlie V said...

Great writing and wonderful descriptions. But I’m not really capturing the gist. I think I need a little more information from the MC. Why is she feeling this way? Why is she treating her father this way? I just don’t know enough from her to get into the story just yet.

Anette J Kres said...

Doesn’t hook me…
Because there’s nothing unique for me to grasp onto. Kid moves around a lot, dad’s trying to be cheerful, kid’s being forlorn. Seen it. Need something original about the kid or the dad for me to care…

Lori said...

Not really hooked, sorry. The "moving to a new town" scenario is really overused in YA as a tool to put the MC in a new situation. Also, the language here doesn't really seem like YA to me so much as Middle Grade.

danceluvr said...

Dad, to me, sounds more feminine in what he says. "Isn't that charming?" seems more what a mother/woman would say, not a guy.

Guys would prefer to think about what they can do in the woods -- shoot small animals, chop down trees, etc.

I wasn't intrigue enough to want to go further. Sorry.

fairchild said...

Nicely written, but nothing particularly intersting has happened, nor is there an indication of what's to come. There seem to be a lot of YA stories starting with a kid having to move somewhere he/she doesn't want to, so this seemed too familiar.

Secret Agent said...

As I said on Story 10, a lot of stories start with a house move - an overused device (IMHO). I THINK we're in for a nicely creepy story (presuming Foxglove Lane is anything but as charming as it sounds?), but I'm not feeling an outstandingly fresh concept is approaching. I'm not won over by the idea of eyes 'like a skittish sparrow', I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Once again I disagree with the SA. Dreams, moving, boys, catfights, are normal distressing things for teens especially, so it is easy to see why authors tend to start out with these things. Teens can relate to them. I think cliches are any excuse to ditch a poorly written MSS. Not that this one is.

Blathering, yammering, snuffled are not words my teens would use.

I don't know what happens in this book, but it seems more MG to me. The author has a better voice for a parent than a teen, and when I say parent-it feels feminine to me.

Oh, one more thing. Seeing where your parent is going to work verses where you will live, is no contest for a teen. I would have never suggested seeing it in that order unless we were driving right by it and I immediately let my teen know that, because that is something they would squall about.

Anonymous said...

Oh, one more thing. The Dad is supposed to nervous? Silence might be better, or comments just dropped occaionally, like he is thinking in between them. Otherwise as someone else said it seemed like an info dump.

Suzette Saxton said...

You've captured the teen attitude perfectly. :)

Eng151 said...

This might develop into a story that would be good, but probably you are starting the story here, and it's a little bit "draggy:" - for the age group, it's more get to the point.

So I could be hooked, but it would have to be hookier for the intended age group.

mjb said...

Intriquing title!

ColoradoKate said...

I liked the writing, but I wasn't hooked, simply because, as others have said, I'm not seeing much new yet. But I am intrigued by some of the details... I wonder why Dad is so nervous, for one thing. Worried that his daughter will be unhappy, sure, but he's downright jittery, and I want to find out why.

And I love the dog's name, Baskie--is he named after the hound of the Baskervilles?

Ann E. Bryson said...

Wow! Thanks for all of the great insights and comments. I appreciate your honesty and I feel like I can definately make improvements.

Should I tell you that the girl in this first chapter is actually the protagonist?

And yes, Baskie is named after Baskervilles. ;)

Thank you Authoress and Secret Agent!