Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #9

GENRE: Young Adult

I should've taken the freakin' bus. But no, I wanted to walk home and practice my lines for drama class. Only three weeks left until opening night. Channeling Lady MacBeth took time. I wanted perfection.

Three blocks into my route, I met "Scary Dude." Lucky me.

He pulled up in a black SUV--totally cliche, right?--and honked the horn. I looked the other way.

Scary Dude rolled down a tinted window. "You're Nickie Leone, right?"

"Who wants to know?" My eyes shot to him.

Reflective aviator sunglasses hid his face. Bling adorned his neck and hand. So upper class.
The light turned. Couldn't cross now. Unless I wanted to play dodge-the-sedans. Damn.

"I knew your father. You look just like him." He smiled, deep lines arcing from his wide nose to his jaw. Ultra-white teeth contrasted with dark skin. Someone used whitening toothpaste.

"How do you know him?" He recognized me based on dark hair and green eyes? Uh-huh.

Option one: Run away from Scary Dude.

Option two: Find out his connection to Dad. Maybe, just maybe, he knew why Dad disappeared.
Scary Dude got out of the car, fixed his leather jacket, and sauntered--no joke, sauntered--to me. He stood a foot taller than my five-foot-eight-inch frame.

"Your father was a great man. I can't believe a year has passed already." He removed the sunglasses. Wiped them with a cloth.

"Do you know what happened to him?" Sucking in a breath burned. Tears brimmed.


  1. The character seems a bit... strange. First she's nonchalant about the scary man, next she's thinking she should run for her life, and then she's like, cool, maybe he knows something, and then she's crying.
    The premise sounds interesting, but I'm kind of like... what the heck? Emotions go from 0 to 60, back to like, 4, then up to 197.
    Also, how did he saunter over to her? Isn't he driving a car?
    However, I have to say I like the narrator's attitude. Likeable, if a bit inconsistent. I'd love to read it after a bit of editing, and the writing style is solid, amusing, and interesting.
    That's just my opinion though. :)

  2. Nice attitude from the protag. Easy to see it's mostly front. Clearly this is a girl who knows what she wants and doesn't have time to suffer fools but has some vulnerable stuff that she's trying to keep a lid on.
    I like her. The flow is nice and the internal dialogue is great.
    Scary Dude's cliche look needs a little refinement for me. Black SUV, leather jacket, reflective sunnies, and bling, fit a few stereotypes that could change easily if I knew if the jacket were tailored or studded, and if I knew what the bling was. I'm wavering between mafia, special ops, and pimp. Maybe age him and describe the shoes. Very telling, shoes.
    Like the set up of the father mystery too. Nice stuff.

  3. I think you've set up a nice mystery here but I didn't quite feel the connection to the narrator once she started talking about her dad. I did get that she was trying to force her emotions down and not react, but at the same time I didn't really feel how much her dad's disappearance bothered her.

    Also, a couple of logistical things. She's walking, and a car pulls up next to her. Scary Dude is driving. It sounds like he's at a busy intersection (dodge-the-sedans), but then he gets out of his car and saunters across traffic to her? It's minor, but it hung me up trying to visualize it. I think you need to either say that he pulls up and parks at the curb, or if he doesn't do that, explain whatever he does do.

    I would read on though. I agree with the comments about more cliche detail, but I do want to see what Scary Dude's answer is.

  4. I liked the narrator's voice, but I didn't really connect with her. Things felt a little TOO set up for me. Like her last line -- with the way she talked up to that point, it was too pathetic sounding.

    Whoever mentioned the emotions above was on point too.

    I probably wouldn't keep reading.

  5. Loved the voice and the writing! I'd fix the logistical problems others mentioned, and make her feelings more consistent--don't have tears brim at the end. Make her wary, but curious and fronting from the get-go.

    If that was fixed, I'd definitely keep reading!

  6. Not for me. If scary Dude was so scary, why is she talking to him? Why is she letting him get so close? Why isn't she thinking stalker or serial killer? Why doesn't she ask his name?

    You show us she's suspicious of him when she questions (to herself) how he possibly recognized her from 'dark hair and green eyes.' And yet, she still hangs around. She just seemed like the perfect victim to me, and I'd like to read about somebody a bit more clever.

    Perhaps if we felt her fear, as well as her need to know about her dad so much, she's taking a chance here, that would change things and make this more believable, but as is, it just didn't work for me.

  7. Not quite hooked. Nicky seems like she should be a bit smarter than she's acting. Anyone with that much "sass" would probably know better than to approach a weird "scary dude" in a black SUV. Also, the first sentence has her a bit pissed off about running into Scary Dude, but the last sentence has her crying. It's a little too all over the place for me.

  8. What throws me is the flippant tone - which is well done - and then the jolt about her father's death. Also, the Do you know what happened to him? confuses me.

    But I'd keep reading.

  9. I don't know if the main character is a girl or a boy. I would assume boy, since he looks just like the dad supposedly, but she sounds like a girl, and Nickie as a name doesn't help.

    I think that we need to know a bit more about the character so that we care if s/he is approached by a scary dude. Right now I don't.

  10. Ahh - never mind. I reread and realized there was the Lady Macbeth line.

    However, the rest of it still stands - I don't understand who this is that we are supposed to be (?) rooting for.

    And if she was really as sassy and smart as the voice implies, she'd be braced to run or blow a rape whistle. You don't go TOWARDS scary dudes in scary cars...

  11. I really liked how you illustrated that she wants to know about her dad MORE than she wants to protect herself from Scary Dude. She seems streetwise to me. Good job!