Wednesday, July 15, 2009

10 Secret Agent

TITLE: Still Here
GENRE: YA fiction

Things are funny after you’re dead. Or rather, after you were supposed
to die and didn’t, and told people things you’d have never said if you
meant to see them again. But you do see them again. You have to.
You’re not dead.

I lean out, over the roof’s edge. Breathe in the city. From here I can
see most of downtown, even the JumboTron on the Blake building. This
past weekend it played nothing but footage of Marlo. Marlo setting off
mini bombs throughout the city and promising big ones. Marlo holding a
little kid hostage, and keeping the cops at bay. Marlo scaring the
hell out of everybody.

Now it just plays footage of me.

Down on the street, the tops of heads and cars drift along. My eyes
close. It’d be so easy. My will is made, everything done. But…suicide
isn’t pretty like martyrdom.

Marlo doesn’t have to deal with any of this, stupid luck. He’s gone.
No worries. No trauma. No—

“Hey. Girl! What you think you’re doin’?”

A large, rough hand grasps my shoulder and tugs. “Hey,” I open my eyes
and try to maintain balance. The guy is old, probably seventy or so,
but his hands haven’t lost any steel. All thick and calloused, with
stubby fingers. I can already feel the bruises start.

“You got any idea how high this is? We’re thirty stories up. Look,” he
yanks me towards the edge for a better look, nearly pushing me over in
the process.


  1. hmm.. I'd read more! At first I thought it was adult and I had to look at the genre again- and then it surprised me it was a girl. so i wonder if the voice is a little off, but I'd defintiely keep reading! hope that helps!

  2. Yes-ish. I like this, but thought I'd mention I didn't feel any urgency and thought there might be a little towards the end.

    Like, I can see her zoning out while she's contemplating suicide and feels she's in control. She'll go down when she's ready to go down.

    When the guy grabs her, that might be enough to break up her concentration and freak her out about falling before she's mentally ready.

    It's like somebody sneaking up and grabbing you while you're zenning-the-moment at the top of a high jump (pool).

  3. Let's see...

    (Present tense just doesn't work for me, so I'll try to ignore that.)

    The first paragraph isn't too clear. That first line has become extremely the fact that she WASN'T dead didn't get through to me in that next sentence like it was supposed to. My eyes were already glassed over. It took me two reads to understand what the paragraph was getting at. I'd suggest working at that more until it's a little more clear, and I'd avoid the cliched first sentence. It seems 70% of first lines say something about what it's like after your dead.

    Then, the jerk from that paragraph to the second is too great. What's the connection? If she's thinking this from her vantage point, then you need to keep us in her thoughts more.

    I'm also confused about whether we've jumped back in time to when she thought she'd die, or if that's already happened, and she's contemplating suicide again.

    Other nit-picky things:

    "My will is made." I've never heard anyone say it this way. We say our mind is made up, or the decision is made, but your will isn't something that's's who you are, the force of your personality. It's kind of like saying, "My personality is made." I'd re-word that.

    I think there should be a comma after "Hey" rather than a period. Also, I think the "large, rough hand" sentence belongs with the "Hey, Girl!" sentence. That's HIS motion, not hers. Her paragraph should start with "Hey!" I open my eyes. (That's the punctuation that 'Hey' should have, too.)

    All thick and calloused... isn't a complete sentence, and it should be.

    The next paragraph needs to have a period after "Look." Not a comma. And capitalize he for the next sentence, of course. Commas and continuing the sentence go with the said type of tags. When you're using action tags to identify the speaker and describe action that goes with the words, you start a new sentence.

    Am I hooked on the idea? Personally, I'm not. I'm only slightly curious about why she thought she would die, and why the thing is playing footage of her...not enough to make me work past the questions I listed above.

  4. The first paragraph had me asking some questions, I wanted to keep reading, but the voice changed too much for me as the second paragraph starts.

  5. Agree with comment about the first sentence being a cliche. I read it, heart sank, thought here we go again...and then relaised that no, she wasn't dead and got interested again.

    I'm a little confused, but intrigued.

  6. Your first paragraph confused me, and you had a few errors throughout the excerpt. In terms of me being hooked, I found myself skimming, which is never a good sign. Sorry.

  7. I was initially very intrigued with this - why didn't he (and I read it as "he" until "Girl!") die? Who is Marlo (and I immediately thought of The Wire on HBO - not sure that is good or bad, but I did)? Why is he on the JumboTron? All very intriguing and I was feeling that cool-book tingle.

    But with "Hey. Girl!..." the tone and feel changed drastically and my interest got smothered. So...if I had time and was in the right kind of mood, I might turn a page and see. But I'm not sure.

    And I was wondering what kind of teen has a Will drawn up - they generally have nothing to leave to anyone - so, that threw me a bit.

    Hooked? Not yet, but if I had time and was in the right mood, I might read on a bit...

    good luck.

  8. I am really confused right now... but still intrigued!

  9. I'm unclear on time passage. Has she tried to die once already and is now trying again?

    Did she save someone from Marlo?

    The first 2 sentences are intriguing- the next 3 seem a little repititive. But all in all, it is an interesting premise.

  10. There are parts of this that hook me, but parts that make me want to stop.

    Your first paragraph suggested that the MC was already dead. But the second paragraph has her committing suicide? Is this her second attempt at death? Or was the first paragraph just some hint of what's to come? I'd ditch the first paragraph completely and start with the suicide.

    What did hook me is your juxtaposition of a criminal and your MC, and how the MC's suicide attempt is becoming headline news. I definitely wanted to know more when I read this paragraph. Talk about drama!

    That said, if she's on the JumboTron, then she's been on that roof more than long enough for the old man to realize what's going on. Why is he approaching her now? What haven't the police sectioned off the area? Why aren't they up there trying to talk her down instead of the old man? I believe that's procedure (though I am speaking from a TV perspective, so I don't 100% know the timeline of a suicide intervention). But again...she's on the JumboTron so don't the authorities know? And why is the old man yanking her toward the edge? Yanking indicates he's pulling the MC toward him, meaning he'd have to be closer to the edge than her! And yet he's trying to push her back inside? I'm a bit confused.

    If you could set the scene a little better, describe the cops or how she got on the JumboTron (was it a news helicopter that spotted her?), this might make more sense.

    I'd say you have a great (and let me emphasize the great) start but you could improve it.

  11. I'm hooked. I want to know why she thought she'd die and didn't (because of Marlo?), who Marlo is and what he did, and who she is and why footage of her is playing on the JumboTron.

    Though the guy at the end made me wonder. If he's trying to stop her from jumping why would he push her towards the edge?

  12. I like the idea of someone saying all sorts of things thinking they will die and then having to live it down when the don't, but I agree that the first line is similar to lots of other first lines in other books.

    I do want to know who Marlo is and why he is dead and our main character isn't, but the writing here doesn't quite sparkle just yet and I suspect that unless the synopsis was amazing I would stop reading here.

  13. The first paragraph kind of threw me off, but I liked it after that, and would st least read a few more pages.

  14. You hooked me.

    Not a great opening (perhaps start with her staring off the roof, contemplating suicide, then go into the details of the first paragraph) but it was intriguing.

    I want to know why she almost died but didn't. I want to know who Marlo is and what the heck is going on. I'd definitely read more.