Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #47

TITLE: Wildflower Eyes
GENRE: Young Adult

My cell phone rang loud and shrill in the quiet classroom.

I froze.

All eyes turned to me.

He found us.

He was coming.

The teacher scowled and held out her hand to confiscate my phone.

I flipped it open. I had to answer before the second ring- that was the rule.

My mother's panicked voice said one word: Run.

Eyes tearing, heart pounding, I grabbed my textbook and notes, then stuffed them into my bag.

Shaking, I stumbled to the door.

Every second, he was getting closer.

"Where are you going, Maddie?" the teacher demanded. Then, seeing my tears, she spoke with concern. "Is something wrong?"

I rushed past the teacher, out of the classroom.

"Maddie!" I heard her shout. She stepped into the hallway after me.

I walked faster. Please don't stop me, I begged silently.

I tried not to succumb to the panic. My breath came in short little gasps and a sob escaped my lips, echoing in the empty halls.

How did he find us again?

I stopped at my locker. With fumbling fingers, I shoved my books and jacket into my bag. I could leave nothing personal behind- that was another rule.

I raced down the hall. Flew down the stairs.

Dennis Connelly had found us again.

I rushed through the cafeteria, almost bumping into a girl carrying a tray. I swiped my tears away so I could see.

I ran to the lobby.

My lungs burned for air.


  1. Wow - this is suspenseful. You gave enough information to set the scene and still keep it exciting.

    I would drop the tears part in the beginning. I think the other parts show her distress. And the teacher can just note her expression instead of the tears.

    Instead of "My lungs burned for air," maybe another line about hoping that you will be able to get away in time or that you hadn't left anything behind would work better.

    I'm nitpicking. Good job!

  2. I like this alot, but you need to be careful about which tense you're in. I noticed a couple of slips into present. Other than that I agree with Theresa. Awesome tension. You started the book running. Literaly ;)

  3. Great job of starting us off with "just" enough information. Agreed about the tears and the burning lungs; try for details that aren't quite so ordinary. Great job!

  4. I like the suspense and sense of urgency, but I'm hoping for some longer paragraphs to come. Overall, though, I really like it.

  5. I like this and am definately hooked for more. Short sentences and short paragraphs add the the suspense of the moment. There are a few things that could make this tighter. The first is to try to avoid cliches--eyes tearing, heart pounded. (I think being scared is one of the hardest emotions to convey without falling into cliche). The other thing was slipping out of 1st person. "Then, seeing my tears, she spoke with concern." The narrator really wouldn't know what made her change her tone. The last thing I noticed was that you slipped into the passive voice (I think only once) "I heard her shout. She stepped into the hallway after me." Something like...she shouted as she followed me into the less passive.

    Overall, great job. I'm dying to know who Dennis Connelly is.

  6. Love it.

    You may have slightly overdone the short sentences - a little of this goes a long way - but I would definitely keep reading. (And I'm also not sure about tears - I think she would cry later, not now.)

  7. Wow, this is great. I think the hair on my arms actually stood at attention when I was reading it. Not sure if this is my personal kind of book to read, but this one I'd give a try just off those 250. Great job.

  8. I love the suspense. I did get a little thrown out by the constant one line paragraphs and the repetition of the idea that someone bad has found them. I think a little understatement here would go a long way, but I'd definitely read more.


  9. This is very suspenseful, and I like the short paragraphs to convey her sense of urgency.

    I know the rule is to not leave anything behind, but the parts about walking down the hall - I'd be running like Mom said - and stopping to clear her locker - slowed down the fact that she's in immediate danger. I don't have any suggestions, though, as to how you'd avoid it.

    Very nice.

  10. Very good. Great pacing. Lots of tension and yet you managed to sneak in some good setting.

    Some of the lines can be gathered into paragraphs without losing the pacing.

    Seems the teacher is too close for her to stuff everything into her bag and get out of the room without brushing by the teacher. But that might be my interpretation of what it means when the teacher holds out her hand for the phone. That gives me the impression she's close enough to take it.

    Why not succumb to the panic? I would. I'd be running full tilt to get everything and get out of there.

    I'd read on.

  11. Very grabby beginning. My first thoughts (as this isn't listed urban fantasy) is of a biological father, but you've got it sounding a lot more dangerous.

    I would read more.

  12. I love this so far. I would run a longer paragraph every now and then in-between the short ones. (Just combine a few of the sentences you have already). I would also pick up the MC's pace at the end to have her racing out the door and ravaging her locker as the seconds tick on.
    I so loved this line:
    My mother's panicked voice said one word: Run.

  13. Thanks for sharing your work in such a public forum. That takes guts.

    My comments are just a quick impression, as if I were browsing in a bookstore.

    I actually think this is too fast of an opening. I don't have my bearings yet and don't know why I should care about the character's predicament. In fact, I felt like an observer of the scene.

    I think if I knew what kind of threat Denis Connelly posed, I would be more drawn to the character.

    I would start off with the Mom's call: "Connelly's coming. Run." Some quick thing about how Connelly tried to kill them all the last time he found them (or whatever it is Connelly has done), and then have her running off (without tears at this precise moment. She's focused on survival, and tears come later when adrenaline finally burns out.)

  14. Great suspense. I could feel the urgency. But I agree, maybe too many short sentences.

    I thought the tears might come later, too.

    Great start!

  15. I'd be running like the wind and crying my eyes out, but I'm a wimp. Sounds like Maddie has been through this before and is handling it well. I was thrown by her stopping at her locker, but you saved it by the mentioning of the 'rules.'

    Great tension. I really want to know what happens next. Got really wrapped up in Maddie in 250 words. Good job!

  16. I think I need to learn a little more about the protag to care about her. Maybe tell us a little about her first and then she gets the call and maybe who it's from and why that's scary.

  17. I liked this a lot. Very tense.

    I could've done without the line "Dennis Connelly had found us again." It's the only one that feels out of place and it means nothing to me since I don't know who is. If you said something about how he related to Maddie or something that indicated why they were running from him that would work better for me.

    I'm definitely hooked though. I want to know what happens next!

  18. I liked the suspense and urgency in this piece. The sentences/paragraphs were too short and choppy to me--when you use too many short sentences in a row, you start to lose the impact. Also, I don't quite understand why you start with "He found us again," like "he" is a secret, when, in less than 250 words, you tell us his name. It just kind of felt ... strange.

    Good luck!

  19. Definitely hooked. I'm eager to know more about your protagonist and her situation, but am willing to wait for it.

    I agree with other people that a few one-sentence paragraphs are effective, while too many lose their impact. Also, it seems that any responsible teacher should make a more sincere effort to find out what's troubling your MC.

  20. I disagree with a few commenters before me...I LIKED not knowing who Dennis is, and I LIKED the abrupt sentences (as long as you don't draw it out too much longer). The point is to HOOK your reader, i.e. make them curious enough to keep reading, which I think you do here without knowing who Dennis is. Whoever he is, he is obviously bad. If MY mom were afraid of someone, then I should be too. Good job.

  21. I loved this. Like Scarlettprose, I liked not knowing who Dennis is. Since it's obvious the guy's been after her and her mother for quite some time, it's normal for her not to think of Dennis by name. Hooked.

  22. I thought this was really good. I'd definitely read on. I'm another one who liked not knowing who he was. I think this is a good example of how to convey information without getting bogged down in backstory.

    I thought the short sentences were a bit much and they started losing their impact, but I'm wondering if this is one of those formatting issues Authoress was talking about, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt :-)

  23. I'm commenting without reading the previous comments first, so forgive me if I repeat anything. There is a POV problem here..."Where are you going, Maddie?" the teacher demanded. Then, seeing my tears, she spoke with concern. "Is something wrong?" Since this is told in first person, Maddie would have no idea if seeing tears would make the teacher respond with concern.
    I do like this, and the suspense alone would keep me turning the pages, but I'm not completely sure about the short choppy sentences. I think short and choppy is fabulous when used sparingly, kind of like a little goes a long way, you know? I would keep turning pages, but if the short and choppy kept up, I may have to put it down. I am itching to know who Dennis Connelly is, though, and why everyone is so scared. Good work!

  24. I thought the content was great. You've got emotion, action, movement, suspense. It's all there.

    What didn't work for me was all the simple sentences. I felt like I was reading Dick and Jane. But that may be a subjective thing. The point is, it does work.

  25. SO hooked.

    If you're ever looking for a beta reader, PLEASE contact me! This is awesome. :)

  26. I am also hooked. Good tension. Good suspense. As someone above mentioned, I agree she wouldn't be stopping by her locker. I don't think she would have anything in a locker if she needed to be prepared to take off at any second.

    I think the inclusion of "the rules" is important. As she is stuffing her things into her bag, you could mention the "leave nothing personal behind" rule and skip the locker thing altogether.

  27. I definitely want to see what happens!

  28. I don't have anything new to add, but wanted to say I'd read on. I agree with many above that a few things need work - you'll have to sift through all the comments and see what you agree with and what you are willing to change. Nice!