Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November Secret Agent #34

TITLE: CRUEL SUMMER
GENRE: Contemporary YA

"We're live from outside the hospital where the latest Hollywood 'it girl', Chey Morrow, has been brought in. According to an unnamed source, she lost control of her BMW earlier tonight on a slippery stretch of PCH and spun out into oncoming traffic. No reports yet on whether or not alcohol was a contributing factor." The same perky blonde reporter from the premiere flashed a bright smile at the camera like my sudden downward spiral was the highlight of her day.

The screen split in two, and before the serious looking anchorwoman could ask a single nauseating question, I clicked the television off, glaring at the darkened screen. Alcohol a contributing factor my rear. I hadn't been near any all night. I'd been stone cold sober throughout the entire painful ordeal.

I eased down in bed, wishing I had the chance to redo at least part of my summer. I'd been so naive when I arrived, thinking the whole time was going to be about me and my father bonding, hanging out and having fun. All the things that I'd missed out on since my parents' divorce nearly a decade ago. Yeah, if I could go back in time, I'd seriously think about smacking that
version of me up alongside the head as I issued a dire warning. Beware of Adriana. Enough said.

11 comments:

S. Mozer said...

What a great way to begin the scene. I am wondering if the rest of the story will be a flashback to the summer or if you'll move forward from here. Either way I'd read on.

Shannyn said...

I didn't much like the opening with the reporter. It's a good way of letting us know who the MC is, but I found myself skimming that paragraph.

The last paragraph, on the other hand, I really liked. This is where your voice comes through.

My only concern, and I don't read much YA, is that you have nothing happening on the first page. Your character is sitting and thinking. I don't know if it's enough to carry it.

Ammy Belle said...

I agree with Shannyn that the real meat of it comes in at the last paragraph, but I like having that beginning paragraph - I like the way it locates the story in a specific time and place, and I like the way Adrianna reacts to it.

Good job!

Thanks!

Barbara said...

I didn't think there was anything really wrong with this, but it just didn't grab me, so maybe it's just not my kind of story. Or maybe you're not starting it in the right place.

Perhaps consider starting it at the premier, just before she gets into the car, that way we see the scene play out as opposed to having it told to us? Just a thought.

Vicki said...

I'm definitely hooked! I want to know what premiere, who Adriana is and what she did that put Chey in such trouble.

I like the first paragraph. You conveyed so much information in that. We immediately know where the story takes place AND get some of the MC's voice.

The last paragraph gives us nice foreshadowing - assuming we'll find out what happened that summer at some point, as Chey moves forward from here.

My only suggestion would be to change the word "rear" in the 2nd paragraph. To me it doesn't fit with the rest of her voice. I feel like she'd use something stronger.

Nice!

Leah Petersen said...

I was OK with this. I felt the surly teen voice and it worked. What didn't work for me was the opening paragraph. Not just that it was a reporter, but that it didn't sound like a reporter. The word choices were wrong.

StrugglingToMakeIt said...

I definitely want to know more about what happened--and especially about this Adriana, whoever she is. I'm just hoping this isn't one of those stories that moves backwards in time. Sometimes those work, but most of the time, I feel like the author is cheating when that device is used. However, this excerpt definitely piques my interest. I'd read more.

Angela Robbins said...

the title is simple and good for ya.

i'd reconsider opening it with dialogue that is a reporter on tv. i'd be tempted to start with the MC and then bring the reporter in and then go back to the MC.

i like that they assume she's paris hiltoned or lindsay lohaned it, but we find out that she was sober. makes me wonder what the deal was.

the way it opens isn't quite hook enough for me.

joankr said...

The writing is really good, polished, and I'm definitely hooked by the main character's situation and want to know what happens.

The only suggestion I have is to open with the MC first, even if it's only one line that has her looking at the TV. Starting with a "bodiless" quote from a reporter slowed down my reading because I had to try and figure out who it was, and then who was referring to the perky reporter.

Great opening otherwise!

Bron said...

Good voice, but I like joankr's suggestion of starting with the MC. The TV reporter is a better way of telling us what's happened than a plain infodump, although I also liked Barbara's suggestion of maybe starting at the premiere. I like this and I'd read on to find out more about Chey, how she came to be in this situation and what she does next.

Secret Agent said...

RE: title—Intriguing. Would THE CRUEL SUMMER work too? I feel as if that has a bit more punch.

As for the text—

"We're live from outside the hospital where the latest Hollywood 'it girl', Chey Morrow, has been brought in. According to an unnamed source, she lost control of her BMW earlier tonight on a slippery stretch of PCH and spun out into oncoming traffic. No reports yet on whether or not alcohol was a contributing factor." The same perky blonde reporter from the premiere flashed a bright smile at the camera like my sudden downward spiral was the highlight of her day.

The screen split in two, and before the serious looking anchorwoman could ask a single nauseating question, I clicked the television off, glaring at the darkened screen. Alcohol a contributing factor my rear. I hadn't been near any all night. I'd been stone cold sober throughout the entire painful ordeal.

I eased down in bed, wishing I had the chance to redo at least part of my summer. I'd been so naive when I arrived, thinking the whole time was going to be about me and my father bonding, hanging out and having fun. All the things that I'd missed out on since my parents' divorce nearly a decade ago. Yeah, if I could go back in time, I'd seriously think about smacking that version of me up alongside the head as I issued a dire warning. Beware of Adriana. Enough said.


I can almost guarantee you that you’re starting the novel in the wrong place entirely. I have a feeling, based on the title and the content of these first 250 words, that your protagonist’s accident—and this rumor about her drinking—will in some way drive either the main plot or a subplot of the novel, and so you want to reveal it in a scene that reflects the tension that arises from this misconception. (For example, a “mean girl” embarrasses her by calling her out on being drunk, etc., in the worst situation possible—she’s hanging out with a new love interest.)

The goal is to layer your scenes as much possible. Here, we see your character sitting and musing, which is fine—there’s not much that I would change about the writing . . .—but, as with so many of the other sets of first 250 words, you give us no sense of immediacy or urgency. I want to be dropped into a situation in which the character has to proactively respond to something that is happening.

It also feels like this is leading back into a flashback kind of scene, back to when she first met Adriana, and in that case this would constitute a prologue kind of scene. Instead of making your prologue internal and analytical, give us a short and sweet scene that is active (again, see example above).

I do really like the voice—very sassy and very much so teen—and the voice is why I would keep reading, though I wouldn’t say I’m hooked, per se.