Wednesday, September 9, 2009

38 Secret Agent

TITLE: The True Life Adventures of Power Girl
GENRE: Young Adult

A hush came over the crowd when I stepped inside the dark, foreboding entrance to the Shangri-la Club, on assignment as a high school intern for New York Scene Magazine. I tried to overlook the smell of cigarettes and stale beer because it’s not every day a sixteen-year-old girl walks into a den of thieves and thugs, and gets college credit for it.

Up ahead, a four-piece orchestra swayed to Middle Eastern music that had an otherworld twist to it. A tall guy to my left looked like he was strangling a green-skinned creature with purple hair.

Now, this was weird and a little scary, something you don’t generally see in a NY
club. I straightened my red leather skirt and pulled up my matching cami top. Part of me
wanted to turn and run, but the reporter part kept moving me forward, down the gritty aisle, toward what had to a whole lot of intrigue, and at least a little danger. The heels of my red boots rapped across the floor, and my red hair blew out behind me in the breeze from the ceiling fan. A few guys stared at my thigh-high footwear and the gold embossed letters running up the side of them that spelled out my name: M-I-R-A C-U-N-N-I-N-G-H-A-M.

I’m not supposed to stand out when I’m doing interviews, but this is the real me.

Not during the school day, of course. Then I’m a computer geek who wears glasses, baggy tops, and nobody speaks to.


  1. Interesting concept. I liked the ending about how she becomes a computer geek/glasses/etc. . . . Makes me interested. I wasn't exactly hooked by the first sentence, but I was with the last.

  2. There is a lot to like about this. You do a nice job setting up the scene and I like the tone. A few comments...a hush came over the crowd yet a orchestra is swaying up ahead? That seemed to contradict each other. The other thing I noticed is that she is describing herself a bit too much. I know that you are just trying to give us a visual, but you need to have it read like the mc's thoughts. Do you ever walk across a room and think about the color of your boots, skirt, shirt and the color of your hair? She could simply say something like..."I feel hot tonight. Everything, even my hair, is red." Of course that's just a sloppy example, but that's the general idea you should go with to make it more realistic.

    But I'm hooked, I'd keep reading.

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  4. Interesting concept here and I would want to see more, even as a guy! A couple of quick notes:
    How do you "overlook" smells?
    And the outfit, holy, is that how high school students dress now? What magazine in their right mind would send a high school intern in to such a sleazy space?
    Again, would have to read more just to satisfy my curiousity.

  5. Hi,
    I have no comments about the actual sample right now, but I did want to point out that "Power Girl" is the name of a copyrighted character (she's a DC comics superhero). I don't know how important the name is to your story, but it's worth keeping in mind.

  6. I think your first sentence should be 'It’s not every day a sixteen-year-old girl walks into a den of thieves and thugs, and gets college credit for it.'
    The explanation of how and why can come a bit later. I quite like the3 idea, but I don't believe a word of it which is a shame.

  7. I love the writing. It's colorful, realistic, and I sympathized with the character.

    My one question is the storyline: do I want to read about a sixteen-year-old reporter going into a NY club? I would keep reading a few pages to see what happens to her.

  8. Interesting, and I would read on, but I think there is too much red. I'm a red-head, and wearing red does NOT look good on me. Black, and cool colors look best on red-heads.

    Anyway, hooked.

  9. Loved this sentence: "It’s not every day a sixteen-year-old girl walks into a den of thieves and thugs, and gets college credit for it." I agree that it would be a great opener.

    I also agree with Sam about a 16-year-old at this club. It doesn't sit right. I doubt that a magazine would send her there on assignment.

  10. This is neat, but a few things would keep me from reading on with full confidence:

    What kind of magazine sends a 16-year-old intern to a place like this? I don't need to know the answer right off, but I need to know there's a good excuse, because...that's illegal.

    The paragraph in which she describes herself is a little too... self-aware? Maybe she is very self-aware here, because she's in a scary place dressed like someone from the red-light district, but it comes across as self-centered, and those aren't generally the kind of people I like to read about.

    It's difficult to overlook smells. ;)

    Neat concepts, but I'm not sold on the execution.

  11. I'm so-so on this one. I think I'd read a little further and see how things go from this point.

  12. Good image, interesting character, and a scene that would make me interested in reading more.

    But I am wonderin how a 16 year old girl get into a bar? Could it be something else that's not quite a bar, but still similar situation?

    I don't think four piece qualifies to be an orchestra.

  13. This is interesting, but I'm not hooked. The writing just comes across as too self-conscious to me. And honestly? In a bar, NO ONE will just hush upon seeing one person, unless that person is carrying a gun. Even if the character looks like a spectacle. If she was smoking hot, there would be catcalls, but no hush.

    Yeah, you can tell that detail jarred the narrative. Otherwise, your voice is interesting.

  14. One thing that distracted me from the start... I don't think 16 y/o can get into clubs, can they? Even with a reporter's ID....

    Other than that... I felt this was a little rough for me. Like, I was less interested in her clothes than the thing getting strangled.

  15. Isn't geeky school girl by day, femme fatale by night a sort of YA standard? I think I'd be reading to find out what made this different or believable. What made it matter to me.

    So I'd give this more than a 250 word chance, but probably not much more. But that could be down to personal preference. Thigh high red leather boots on a 16 year old had me running to lock my daughter in her room. And she's six.

    Okay, I'm joking. Mostly.

  16. Gotta agree with Sarah on the red. I'm a red-head too. We do not wear the color red, no matter what JR wore in Pretty Woman. Right now I'm picturing a little girl wearing a cherry wig and superhero red vinyl clothes and matching red boots. Of course no one speaks to her during the day...I'd be surprised if anyone spoke to her now while wearing her name glittering across her chest.

    Having said that, I'm left with the impression of a fantasy novel (green-skinned creature with purple hair and MCs outfit). Only in this world could I imagine a 16 year old being sent by a magazine to a NY club with den thieves. Seems like some weird parallel dimension. If this is the case, peaked my curiosity and I'll read a little further.

    However, if this is the real world, I'm not buying into it.

  17. This character has spunk and I loved how she just waltzes in with confidence. And she has a split personality like Superman. True, there are some nit picky things, but those are fixable. I'd see where this was heading.

  18. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but my impression was that this girl is in WAY over her head. She's walking with confidence into who-knows-what situation, dressed like that? Or maybe those are bravery boots?

  19. Whoa, I'm not sure I can buy the idea of a magazine sending an underage kid to a club. If she lies about her age to get the assignment, I'm in.

    I was okay with a redhead wearing red, but I wasn't sure about having her name embossed on her boots.

    Vamp by night, geek by day? I'll be reading on.

  20. I like this concept, but agree that the execution is lacking. How do you overlook a smell? Why is there an orchestra at a skanky club? How does a high school girl get college credit? Where did she find a red leather skirt now that the eighties are behind us? How does a 16-yr-old know what you "generally see" in a NY club when it's illegal for her to go to one for another 5 years?

    Last comment: there are several grammatical problems which would be enough to turn me off.

  21. I'm wondering how a 16 yr.old gets into a bar? I'm wondering what reputable magazine would send her into one? I'm wondering how she knows what goes on inside a bar?

    I'm wondering why the hush when she walks in. Is everyone staring at her? If so, why? When does the hush go away? Is the tall guy strangling the green creature during the hush? Is the 'orchestra' playing during the hush?

    You've made me ask a lot of questions, but they're not the questions I should be asking.

    I'd suggest giving her a legitimate way to be in the bar, or as someone else suggested, make it something other than a bar. (Pool hall, maybe?)

    Then perhaps, concentrate more on why she's there. Who is she supposed to interview and why?

  22. Not big on your first line, but I love your second line (in the first paragraph). It has voice and tells stuff without being so matter-of-fact, as you know bob about it. I'd read on to see what would happen.


  23. dark, foreboding entrance is first cousin to a dark and stormy night

    I'd skip your first sentence (or alter it and put the info later) and start with you second sentence - which is very intriguing and to the point.

    something you don't generally see in a NY club - how does she know, at age 16? Hmmmm.

    red boots followed by red hair threw me off - because of course they're different colors of red, and it disturbs my sense of imagery.

    She's going undercover wearing boots with her name embossed on them!?!?

    Ah - a secret life. That's intriguing.

    I'd keep reading - but this makes me think she moonlights as a hooker (which isn't what I'd like to read) and your title makes me think this isn't what you intend.

  24. I am not convinced of the voice. I would not keep reading. (Also, there's very little chance any magazine, professional or school, would send a teen to a club like this).

  25. I am not convinced of the voice. I would not keep reading. (Also, there's very little chance any magazine, professional or school, would send a teen to a club like this).