Wednesday, November 4, 2009

26 Secret Agent

TITLE: Voodoo Bloodline
GENRE: Young Adult

“Where is that bag of Grandpa’s stuff?” Jeni asked the plastic Santa caught in mid-wink.
She used the back of her wrist to wipe the sweat from her forehead and then dabbed her upper lip. On the lookout for spider webs, she shuffled forward. She dismissed the red and green containers; the bag she sought would not be with the Christmas decorations.

A few feet further from the lone light bulb behind her she spied a cardboard box with the flaps sticking up. She scanned her surroundings. If not for her promise to Carolyn she would’ve given up by now. With her arms squeezed close to her body, she crept onward. She squatted next to the box and pushed her hair behind her ears so she could look inside.

“Ahhh,” she groaned.

She examined the writing on the boxes to her right: dishes, baby clothes, college… blah, blah, blah. To her left were more holiday decorations. She stared into the black triangular eyes of a jack-o-lantern candy bucket. “Jack? Any assistance would be appreciated.”

She sighed in the subsequent silence. “Okay, if you won’t help me and Santa won’t help me, I guess I’ll go get Mom.”

Jeni turned, careful to duck under the rafters so she wouldn’t bang her head. As soon as she emerged in the room below she yelled, “Mom!” Not waiting for a reply, she continued downstairs where she found her mom in the kitchen.

“Mom, where’s that bag of Grandpa’s stuff?”


  1. Sorry but that first sentence gave me pause. I reread it to be sure it wasn't a person in a Santa costume. I think you should start with Jeni wiping the sweat, looking for spiders, etc. to give us a sense of where she is. Then, after "Christmas decorations." put in the line about the Santa.

    In the next paragaph, I'd skip the two sentences after the first, so that the bit about her heading to the box comes right after she spies the box. After she groans, put in the line about the promise to Carolyn. And skip the scanning her surroundings line. We know that's what she's doing. You show us that as you give us the box labels.

    Its a good scene. My mom had an attic just like that. Such rooms are magical places. Oh, and the title intrigued me.

  2. It's hard to open with dialogue and make it work well. I agree with susiej, I had a hard time with the first sentence. Also there seemed to be a bit of repetition in this first page. Push the action forward a little bit more, up the tension. Good luck!

  3. I liked this, even the first sentence:) I didn't think much of it until I got down to the line about the candy bucket, and then I realized that she really is asking them - and expecting an answer. Subtle introduction of the fantastical elements, and an easy-to-read writing style to boot. Hooked.

  4. Not hooked. I think you are being consciously cute by having her ask the decorations. I’m also unsure of the character’s age. Her thoughts make her seem adult, and her actions make her seem very young. Also not crazy about the title. It just doesn’t catch me.

  5. All I took from this is that she was up in the attic looking for a box of Christmas decorations. Not very interesting.

  6. I agree with MomWoman. I think you are trying to put dialogue into something that is a lot of narrative to try and break it up. And it's too cutsey if she really doesn't expect answers. And I agree, sounds very young. But I don't agree - I do like the title. :D No vampires - that would hook me. :D

  7. I like the title and I don't mind the first sentence.

    I have no problem with her talking to plastic holiday decoration--probably because I'd do the same thing in an attic :)

    The number of sentences that began with "she", did stand out to me. I suggest you break those up by using her name more often and perhaps rework a couple of the sentences to make it less noticable.

    I am curious to know what is in Grandpa's bag and about her promise to Carolyn, so I'd read more.

  8. There isn't a ton here to hook into. She is looking for a bag of haven't made me care about why yet.

  9. Sorry, I wasn't hooked. It just seemed kind of strange to me that the main character is talking to inanimate objects.

    Her main goal - looking for grandpa's stuff - didn't seem compelling enough to read on.

    Are you maybe starting the action too early? I am assuming from the title she finds something related to Voodoo in Grandpa's stuff? If so, you should consider starting the story there.

  10. I'm not hooked either. She's looking for a bag of stuff. That's not enough conflict or tension to draw me in, at least not based on this sample alone. The writing is good though.

  11. I couldn't help but wonder why she is talking to plastic objects. Maybe start with her asking her mother about the bag and launch into why she's looking for it.