Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #37

TITLE: Unraveled
GENRE: YA mystery

My legs were as stiff as a corpse's. If anyone drove by they'd probably think teen Frankenstein was terrorizing the neighborhood. The Tylenol Papi gave me this morning had worn off so even breathing hurt. Or maybe it was because my ab and lat muscles were so tight they'd formed a corset around my ribcage.

It was worth it though. Yesterday's class had been a blast until it'd been my turn to spar Black Belt Barbie. Obviously, she didn't believe in taking it easy on beginners. I'd joined Soo's Tiger Claw dojo to learn defense moves in case a Ted Bundy or a Hannibal Lecter ever attacked me, not to be Barbie's b****.

After class, I calculated the torque of the back spinning kick that had me counting ceiling tiles. Estimating Barbie weighed about 140 pounds, of which fifty-six were all leg, and knowing she was six feet tall, I'd come up with 84lbs/ft of torque. That was equivalent to the average four cylinder car. Sounded reasonable, considering I felt like I'd been hit by a car.

No wonder I'd forgotten the practice questions this morning. I looked at my watch and walked as fast as the soreness would let me. Math club was in twenty minutes so I needed to grab them and head back.

Finally home, I dug into my jeans pocket and grabbed my keys aimed them at the lock but the door squeaked open.


  1. I like this so far. The only thing that breaks the mood is the last line. (This is something I am fixing in my MC) "Finally home..." I would take out Finally and come up with a better way to say it.

  2. Ha! I like Black Belt Barbie!

    The bit with all the goings and comings at the very end slows me up a bit--but for all I know there is action right there in the next paragraph.

  3. I love the part with the Hannibal Lecter and what not! It made me laugh, and explaining the tourque was cool, very original. And the last part about the door squezking open but before that(the begining of the sentece) I feel that you almost lose some of your mc's spunk.Maybe you could just re-word that.
    Good job!

  4. I thought the first paragraph worked. You have me wondering what happened and why he is in pain.

    The second paragraph starts with - it was worth it. But you don't say why it was worth it. You just go on about the bad stuff, so that doesn't make sense.

    The 3rd paragraph is after class. Is it school class, or martial arts class? And why does all that torque stuff matter? Is your MC a math nerd? Fine if he is. If not, I wonder if you need it.

    No wonder I'd forgotten the practice questions. This isn't clear that they're on pieces of paper. I imagined he forgot them in his memory. When he has to return to get them, I wondered what 'them' was.

    The last paragraph is a bit clunky, but it does finally give us a hint of tension and suspense and where your story may be going. But it's a long segue into that last sentence, and if I had been reading for pleasure, I would have quit reading before I got there. Perhaps get us there a bit sooner.

  5. I like the voice here. Especially the Black Belt Barbie bit, and of course, Hannibal Lecter, though I do find the reference to HL slightly random.

    I'd read on.

  6. Great voice. The last sentence feels a bit awkward though, like it's missing a comma between keys and aimed, or something like that. Perhaps it needs a period after "lock" and have "But the door squeaked open." as its own sentence.

  7. This is a great voice.

    I agree with many of the comments above, especially about the last sentence needing tightening or reworking and how great the Black Belt Barbie line is.

    The one thing that threw me off was the corset though, I immediately questioned myself whether I had assumed the wrong gender at that point until I read more and was sure I had known the right gender it was just that word that threw me for a moment.

    Otherwise, great job.

  8. I'd like a bit more clarification on the fact that she was walking home to get the maths questions. I was imagining her walking to school for the start of the day at first. I also felt the torque paragraph was a bit much telling that brought us out of the moment, but then your MC is obviously into maths and the fact that she calculated the torque tells us a lot about her. Could you start with Barbie kicking her butt and have her mentally calculating the torque as she's lying on the floor? Then coming home to whatever is about to happen at home?

    Anyway, the important thing is your voice is good. That's the hardest thing to get right, so well done.

  9. I like the voice a lot and the character. She feels like she has an oveactive imagination in a way which I feel may play into the story. I would keep reading.

  10. I thought this was a bit uneven. Parts were great, especially the second paragraph. I really like the image of teen Frakenstein.

    If using math/physics is going to be part of the novel later on then I think the explanation of torque is a good idea and helps establish the character as a bit of a nerd. If there are no other mention of more complex mathematics, though, I think you should consider adding them.

    The last two paragraphs, though, suffered a bit of a dropoff in quality. The last sentence feels like a run-on with something missing. Did the door open on it's own before the MC inserted the key?

    Overall, I liked it and would have kept reading.

  11. Love the opening line. Ha. Nice voice, too. I like the torque bit, too. One observation, though: if it's a mystery, I'm not feeling much in the way of hook to get me into the mystery. Granted, 250 words isn't a whole lot of space, so... You've established a nice MC, though.

  12. I think we're all in agreement that Black Belt Barbie is completely awesome! I was also intrigued by the narrator calculating torque--this tells me a bit about her.

    But I did find some of the execution clunky here, especially the last 2 paragraphs. I'd say I'm half-in and half-out on this one. If I received this on submission, I would likely read up to a few more pages to see if the writing smoothed itself out and what the character was up to.