Wednesday, May 13, 2009

9 Secret Agent

TITLE: Camp Wylde
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

It was all an accident, really, like most of the major events in my life. But it’s something I’ll never get used to: the way every force of the universe seems to conspire against me until I’m doing something entirely against my will that somehow manages to be the right thing in the end. And usually, it makes me feel like a tiny speck of dust being blown around on the whims of the winds of time, like the totality of life is rolling out before me, and I’m just along for the ride.

But this time, I made a choice. I made a choice, and it changed my life forever.

And it all started as an accident.


I was supposed to spend my last real summer working a part-time job, watching reality show reruns, and sitting around trying desperately to think of ways to keep from being bored out of my mind. But the job part was important to the keep-from-being-bored part, so I wandered down to the school office during my second to last week as a junior and turned in my general summer employment application to Vice Principal Dailey.

“Cutting it close, Miss Donovan,” he said, glancing over the top of his glasses to look me in the eye.

Vice Principal Dailey wore bifocals, complete with a black lanyard that I guess was supposed to make sure the glasses stayed around his neck, but in three complete school years at Juniper High, I had yet to see the man without them on his face.


  1. Cut everything above #! I know why you did it and it's well written, it just doesn't work for me and you don't need it.

    I love everything below the #, even if it doesn't reek of urban fantasy, I'd read more.

  2. I agree with John here. Drop all before the #. You can work it in later when the "accident" happens. I'd read on a bit more to see what happens though :-)

  3. I'm not hooked yet. I think a little variety in the length of your sentences might help.

    I had to reread the line about the summer job, watching reruns, etc. I thought the summer job was watching reruns but maybe it was just me.

  4. I read that sentence the same way NewGirl did. Re-work it.

    The part above # reads more like the back cover copy.

    I'm not sure if I would keep reading or not. There is a lot of telling here. It gives an idea of the character, but it doesn't really draw me in.

  5. I'm torn about you losing the first 3 paragraphs, because, had it not been for the intro (i.e., had you started with "I was supposed to spend my last real summer ..."), I'm not sure I would've been compelled to read on. I do think the first part is a little circular, however--"It was all an accident, really," and "And it all started as an accident"--so I would consider modifying this somehow.

    In order for your piece to work without everything above the #, the paragraph following the # needs some work, imho. The sentence, "But the job part was important to the keep-me-from-veing-bored part," is confusing and wordy. I stumbled on it and had to reread it a few times.

    I did lke the tone of the piece and found myself wanting to know more about this summer job. If the intro was cleaned up a bit, I would read more.

  6. I agree that the first part needs to be go, but I liked the sense that it created of something more is going to happen. If you do decide to cut it, then you will need to somehow add more significance to the whole getting the hob process.

    However I really liked the description of the vice principal. I'd read more to find out where the story is going.

    Good luck!

  7. A couple of images I liked: the repitition of "I made a choice." And It was an accident...

    If you're going to start with "I was supposed" it needs to be stronger.

    Think of getting rid of extra words as in "general" in application phrase, and "I guess"

    The idea of an accident that changed the protagonists life forever makes me want to read on but the writing doesn't.

  8. I'm in the minority here, but I really liked the first part. It grabbed my attention, and it lets me know something is coming.

    I think you could tighten the next section a tad more - perhaps cut the detail of Principal Daily's glasses, as I felt that slowed the pace.

    But overall, I liked the voice. I'm hooked.

  9. (Without reading other comments...)

    I'm sure you've heard this before and decided to keep it for your own reasons, but I think the first three paragraph (everything before the break) can go.

    Yes, it sets up the narrator's voice, but it's unnecessary. I had something very similar at the beginning of my novel, and it is better for my having removed it.

    As for the rest, I like the detail you provide, but think it could be pared down to help get to the meat of the story faster. For instance, do I really need a paragraph about VP Dailey's biofocals?

    Good luck!

    (Note: second-to-last)

  10. This doesn't really reach out and grab me. You also have the misfortune of being number thirty five or so out of all fourty/fifty that I've seen to be not only YA and in first person to boot. This would be better in third person limited.

  11. I liked the stuff above the #. You lost me at the first paragraph below the #. The first and second sentences don't seem like they should go together. Like there's a word off or missing somewhere that changes the meaning.

  12. I saw the contradictory comments and felt for you. Can't please everyone. This is what I suggest. I liked above the #, but think it can be tightened.

    Example: Usually, it makes me feel like a speck of dust blown around at the whim of the wind, but this time...

    cut: And, tiny(specks are tiny- we know that)and those phrases which are really repeating the already expressed theme (though I did find them poetic). This way one gets to the action faster which is what most readers seem to want.

  13. I'm a little confused here and had to read a second time to get the jist of the summer job thing. Am semi-hooked. I'd like to know what the accident was...

  14. I am not hooked with this one either.

    Everything above the scene break is unnecessary. Take those extra words and actually tell me who Miss Donovan is as a character, instead of having me assume that she's a cookie-cutter heroine who I couldn't care less about. The title and the genre tell me it's fantasy, but I see nothing to indicate that, and I need to see something.

    Key things to remember: you need conflict, you need character, and you need good writing to hook your reader. You're on your way to the good writing, but I don't have conflict nor character at this point.

  15. Not hooked. A girl sees her HS VP about a job and comments on his glasses. That's what happened. Not enough to make me want to read more.