Wednesday, November 4, 2009

13 Secret Agent

TITLE: Unraveled
GENRE: YA Mystery

The Thursday afternoon a vile stranger broke into my house and killed my sister, he actually committed mass murder. With each stab wound to my sister’s torso, he extinguished a member of my family. Dr. Kubler-Ross created the five stages of grief, but there should be six. I consider the first stage to be Parallel Death. The moment someone you love with every living cell in your body dies, you die, too. Eighteen hours, a thousand and eighty minutes, sixty-four thousand and eight hundred seconds ago, I was a blissfully unaware and naive sixteen year old. Untouched and unblemished by death.

Now there was a gapping hole in my heart that would, one day, be sealed over with rough, gnarled scar tissue. No, the Katalina that loved to watch her sister run cross country track, enjoyed Sunday dinner at Tia Sandra’s, and wanted to catch serial killers for a living was dead. But hatred resurrected me and gave me purpose. I’m not especially proud of that since it’s not how I was raised, but it is what it is.

Stage two is Anger, but I wonder if in cases like mine ‘anger’ is too polite of a word. Before my sister, Celeste’s murder, my world was whole. My family and I were happy, blessed to be part the Covarrubias clan. Now, we were all broken.

Eighteen hours ago.

No question about it, this was going to hurt. The expression on Kung Fu Barbie’s face spelled out- fatal mistake.


  1. I think you have some good ideas, but I'm a little confused about what is going on here. With some clarity, I'd read on.

  2. I liked this, but I sorta want you to get on with it. The first paragraph got me interested, and from there I wanted you to either go to the crime scene directly, or possibly into the hunt for the killer. While I wan to know eventually what's going on inside your character' head, it feels like you're stuck in there right now. I'd continue reading, but at some point, it needs to go from internal reaction to external action.

    If that transition takes place soon after this, then yeah, I'd be hooked. The descriptions are great, and the pain your character feels is obvious.

  3. Not Hooked.

    The storyline has definite promise but the first sentence did not draw me in, as it should. Possibly, the third sentence or the theme of that sentence would be a better beginning.

    I believe you are telling the reader too much without allowing us to come to our own conclusions about the protagonist’s state of mind.

    The first line in paragraph two is battling it out with the first line of paragraph one, a difference in the time line. The abundance of adjectives is messing with the story.

    Once again, this is a very promising storyline, so don’t give up. I would be very interested in this story after you hone your skills and re-write, re-write.

  4. You lost me at the word “vile”. I just can’t see a real person talking that way. The emotions here are just galloping, and I’m rather frightened by you protagonist. I’m also confused why the “before” includes wanting to catch serial killers.
    At this point, I’m worried this kid is going to turn into a serial killer.
    Not hooked.

  5. I like your first line but I think you can leave out the vile, you don't need it.

    I'm interested in the story but there is a bit too much telling for a opening scene I want something to happen. Although the MC's thoughts on grief stages are nicely done.

    I love your last line, that made me want to read on.

  6. I also found a mixture of nice and confusing in this. A lot less ruminating, and a lot more action will make this better.

    The reference to "mass murder" was a bit of a speedbump for me. My eyes kept returning to that to try to figure out where the mass murder came in. Now that I reread it, it makes sense, so I'm not sure why it confused me.

    I like the multicultural references.

    Somewhat hooked and I think I'd be moreso with some pretty good tweaks.

  7. Not hooked. This is overwritten and all back story. Also, the last paragraph confused me.

    Now that I've read it another two or three times, I'm thinking that last paragraph is a jump to a new scene (and that's probably clearer in the manuscript itself). But if that's the case, what's the point of the first three paragraphs? They're tension for tension's sake. Hook me with the start of the story, not with a sneak peak at the climax/conflict/interesting part.

  8. This is interesting. I liked the term Parallel Death. I have to say that I stopped and did the math for the times, which isn't a good thing.

    I don't understand why Katalina wouldn't want to catch serial killers anymore. Seems like if her sister was murdered, she'd be even further motivated to go into law enforcement or criminal profiling.

    I agree with the above comment about your time line being off and I didn't get the reference to Kung Fu Barbie either.

    Overall, I think you have a good premise and with a little editing it will be great.

    Good luck

  9. I stopped reading at vile stranger - sorry.

  10. This was too disjointed and rambling for me. The murder happened 18 hours ago and she has a hole in her heart that she already knows will heal one day (because scar tissue will form.) How is she convinced she will get over this one day? I don't think she is, but that's what your words say.

    Then you say the person she was before is dead, and in the next sentence she has been resuurected, which means she isn't dead. I know you mean that the person she used to be is dead, and she is now someone else because of the murder, but again, that's not what your words say.

    The whole passage is overdone and unclear, I think, and my suggestion would be to cut it all and start with '18 hours ago'(the last parg) and let us see all the hurt and anger in her actions and dialogue as the story plays out.

  11. I don't know. Somehow this felt a little dispassionate. You were telling me the protagonist had just had her life ripped apart but I wasn't really feeling it. I feel like I should have felt a bit more...kicked in the gut.

  12. You had me in the first two paragraphs, but then got lost.

  13. This all feels too confusing. You definitely hooked me, but then lost me along the way. I can't say that I would read on anymore, but maybe if it wasn't so jumbled from the beginning.

  14. I agree you should get rid of vile. It sounds a bit too polite for what she's probably feeling.

    'gapping' should be 'gaping'

    I'm a bit confused about what's going on too. I'm guessing the first three paragraphs are a prologue and the last one is the start of the real story?

  15. I liked the tone and the voice overall, but have a few nitpicks:

    *stab wound* -- redundant to use both, just pick one

    *gapping* should be gaping

    *to be part the* -- missing 'of'

    The last paragraph seemed disconnected to me, but is that '18 hours ago' in italics indicating a flashback? If so, then this is fine.

  16. I found this confusing - to the extent I had to reread to find out who the deceased person really was. For a while I thought it was Katalina.

    I think that using Dr EK-R grief theory made the impact less personal somehow. I don't think that a recently bereaved person would normally be thinking so abstractly

    I didn't like the time jumps either - too jarring. I think a more linear approach would have made this stronger.