Wednesday, August 19, 2009

38 Secret Agent

TITLE: Charming Tycho
GENRE: Paranormal

What’s worse? Dying or going crazy?

If you had asked me a year ago, I would’ve said death, right away. All
my life I’ve always been scared to death about dying. Bad pun, I know,
but it’s true!

As a kid I often had a hard time getting to sleep because I was so
worried that I would never wake up again. Every spider looked like a
poisonous, death-giving spider, every thunderstorm had a bolt of
lightning with my name on it. Unfortunately, my parents weren’t very
helpful. They were the type of people who thought lying to children
would damage them. So, besides telling me that Santa didn’t exist, my
mother had always been rather blunt about the fact she thought death
was the end of everything. Everything.

Okay, I know it sounds like I was a weird but, really, most of
the time I was happy. It’s just that certain things would set me off:
seeing a dead animal on the side of the road or hearing about a plane
full of people crashing into the ocean. In any case, it made me
appreciative from a very young age that this life was it. You had only
one chance to make what you could of it, because you weren’t going to
get a second try. I was determined to make my life as interesting as

That’s how I ended up Sandford Academy. It was supposed to be this
huge opportunity: a first-class ticket to becoming president or curing
cancer. Not that I really wanted to do those things. I had another
goal in mind.


  1. I like how you start off. I'd read on... even though I haven't the slightest idea what Sandford Academy is....

    A college?

  2. Nice hook. :)

    I enjoyed your voice, but did feel you wandered a bit in a few areas. If you tightened up a bit, I think it could be stronger.

    I would read on.

  3. Not hooked- I thought the first 3 paragraphs were unnecessary or could be shown later in the novel. I would recommend starting with Sandford Academy and working that a little more. Hook the reader with what it is and why she's/he's going.

  4. I'm hooked. I thought your writing was excellent. And I like the creepy foreshadowing. Will the character go crazy or die - or both. Also, what nefarious goal might he have at Sandford college?

  5. Interesting opening. I'd cut the second and third sentences in the second para about the pun.

    The last para leaves the reader with a nice hook. The voice borders on YA, which makes sense since the mc is a student. Depending upon his/her age, you might think about reclassifying it since YA paranormal has been so big.

  6. The most interesting offerings are those that evoke different responses from the readers, like this one does!

    Personally, I thought this needed to be cut and tightened a great deal. Read that as a personal preference.

    I will look forward to swinging back to see how the other critiques go.

  7. I liked the voice and readability despite some grammatical tics (ie, "sounds like I was a weird") but I found myself wishing the story would just start, already. Is this what they call "throat-clearing"? Not sure, and although I can't say I'm hooked, I think this has promise.

  8. I think I'm hooked. I'd need a little more to be fully decided, but I think I am. I like the voice, and the backstory presented is interesting. I'm also curious about Sanford Academy, though I hope it's a college s/he's going to teach there, otherwise I'd be worried about the YAness of this.

  9. This one's not working for me. I didn't like or understand the title. The next thing I noticed was that the genre is listed simply as "paranormal," which really isn't a genre in and of itself. There isn't a paranormal section of the bookstore. So this could be romance, YA, or thriller, etc.

    I'm not a fan of the rhetorical-question opening, either in a query or first chapter, mostly because it's overused and feels like a device. Otherwise, the writing is solid and clear, which is good, but feels more like memoir than fiction. It's a bit rambling and I think this is a case where the writer could trim much of this beginning a start farther down in the manuscript. I love first-person narratives but be careful of being too chatty. We need to get to some action pretty quickly.

  10. It felt like YA to me. I'm not entirely hooked by the voice, but I might read on with a good enough hook.

  11. Opening with rhetorical questions is always a gamble - people either love it or hate it. In my case, I'd read on past the question.

    I liked the narrator's voice. The fourth paragraph, first sentence seems as if there may be a word missing, but overall the writing kept me.

    I'm interested to know what the goal is, but not sure I'd read the entire story unless the goal was something that really grabbed hold of me.

    Also, this is listed as paranormal. So far, nothing paranormal jumps out at me. I'm guessing it's going to show up very shortly - but I would have liked to have a hint of it in the first 250+.

  12. I'd cut the third paragraph. Let's get to Sandford Academy and the goal sooner.