Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November Secret Agent #36

TITLE: Kiss Virgin
GENRE: Literary YA

I had to stop. One day, he was going to catch me staring. It would be awkward. Then I'd have to explain myself.

Danny made the mundane fascinating. He always leaned his head slightly to the side when he was thinking about something. Time to go back to pretending to read the same page in my notebook. It had been open to that page for way too long.

Being in love with one boy and in lust with another is complicated. Especially when the one doesn't know you're in love with him. And there'll be real trouble if the other finds out what you want to do with him.

We sat in my kitchen with our school stuff strewn all over the table. Papers weighted down by books so the fan circulating in the corner wouldn't blow them away. It was early May and Mom forbade me from turning on the air conditioning until June. Fortunately, the breeze coming through the window screen was cool, and the fans were all we needed to keep the air from becoming stifling.

I put my hands over my face and said, "Why can't I just learn things by osmosis?"

I heard the grin in his voice. "C'mon, Chrys. It's not so bad."

My full name, which no one is allowed to use, is Chrysanthemum Violet. My mom's a little...obsessed with flowers.

"That's easy for you to say. You're kind of a genius."

"Says the valedictorian."

"Not only that, but you're addicted to this stuff."

14 comments:

Lauren said...

I think this stands a good chance of keeping a reader's interest. I was most intrigued by the line about the heroine being in love with one boy and in lust with the other. It will present a conflicting triangular relationship in the rest of the book that a reader could really enjoy.
- Lauren Smith

S. Mozer said...

I thought you did a great job with these opening lines but I wanted to know if this is the boy she's in love or in lust with and why she doesn't lust after the boy she loves. But that means I'd read more to find out.

Sharla said...

Love the opening paragraph about the staring. I can't say that enough. And the mention of the love/lust boys is great, lets me know what the story is going to be about, right there. I would like to know which boy she's talking to in the kitchen, though.

I like the 'papers weighted down by books so they won't blow away' idea. Very cool visual. Tells something about the mom.

Very interesting, and I'd read more!

Ammy Belle said...

You had me at "In love with one boy, and in lust with another" - I think that will be a very fun idea to play around with! Please expand!

Thanks!

Barbara said...

I like the idea of being in love with one guy and in lust with another, but I also felt that was all this was - an idea, or a tease, to lure me in. When you actually start the story, there is nothing to indicate that. You don't even let us know which boy she's sitting at the table with.

Perhaps drop the two explanation paragraphs and just start the story and let us see by her words and actions that she's either in love with this boy, or in lust with him, and then one of them can mention the other boy so we know what the situation is.

And be careful of the explanations. People do it a lot in first person. But every time you stop to explain something to the reader (what your real name is) the story stops and the reader is taken out of the world you're creating so they can listen to an explanation. Work it into the conversation somehow, so it becomes part of the story.

Lia Mack said...

LOVE your opening paragraph! LOVE IT! GOT me hooked right away! Great writing!

Then the writing got loose, tangented, bla. I lost interest. You don't need to explain anything up front, just get us invested in the MC. You presented her problem, but it felt cheap. You TOLD us what it was. SHOW us her problem. SHOW us your MC sneaking peeks and daydreaming. Paint us a picture. Put us at that table with them, feeling the heat, the swirl of the air.

Kill paragraph 2 and 3, move them elsewhere, but not here. Make sure to introduce the reader (however you want) to all characters in this scene, even ones the MC is not paying any attention to so she can stare at someone else.

M.R. said...

This is well put together and the writing is good.

I like the "In love or lust" line but feels wrong. Most kids I know would just say they like two boys. The Osmosis line could come from a teen but I can also see a college student saying that.

Shannyn said...

I loved the opening. The kitchen table description lost me. I want to know which boy she's with - love or lust? Does she have the love with a boyfriend, but lusting after someone else? I want you to keep me in that conflict, not tell me about the fans or her name. Maybe he can say something to jolt her out her thoughts, so we don't just have her rambling for all those paragraphs.

SARA J. HENRY said...

I'd like this much better if it started with the second paragraph - the first graf is weak and slows this down enormously. I'd also like to see Danny a bit more clearly - all this staring, and all we know is that he leans his head to one side.

Ray said...

There are some really cool sentences here. I felt like I know the main character.

Angela Robbins said...

virgin in the title and the MC loves one boy but is in lust with another. that's got my interest.
i'd like to know now or soon if the boy at the table is the love or lust. to me, i'd almost assume lust, because i'm assuming he's the one she's been staring at, but i could be wrong.

Bron said...

I like the concept but this opening scene doesn't quite work for me. I'd prefer to know up front that they're in her kitchen, because given the genre and her staring at a boy, I was assuming they were in a classroom.

I think your fourth paragraph should be closer to the top. Their dialogue doesn't grab me either. It's decent dialogue, but given this is the first page I'd prefer something that's a bit less mundane than complaining about schoolwork. That's coming across as harsher than I mean it. I think this is good, but it doesn't quite have the bang that I'd like on a first page. That's a personal thing though. I actually probably would skim on because I'm curious to find out if Danny is the one she's in love or lust with.

Secret Agent said...

RE: the title—Interesting, but I’m not sure how I should read it . . .

As for the text—

I had to stop. One day, he was going to catch me staring. It would be awkward. Then I'd have to explain myself.

This is great. Good voice!

Danny made the mundane fascinating. He always leaned his head slightly to the side when he was thinking about something. Time to go back to pretending to read the same page in my notebook. It had been open to that page for way too long.

This is okay, but to a degree it stalls the immediacy/urgency of the story, though I think you could carry a reader through. What I need, though, are details. The first sentence doesn’t tell me anything. Just get right into the details and make them evocative and fresh—more so than typical details.

Being in love with one boy and in lust with another is complicated. Especially when the one doesn't know you're in love with him. And there'll be real trouble if the other finds out what you want to do with him.

No transition to this paragraph. It’s funny and definitely teen-esque. Definitely hints of voice. But I don’t think this is the place to get into this, especially since I don’t know who the second boy is, and I’m more interested in seeing your MC in action, doing something proactive in response to the circumstances.

I think this could make a potential first paragraph in that your first paragraph and your MC’s staring at Danny logically follow this dilemma (whereas I don’t think this dilemma logically follows through with the first paragraph, at least not immediately).

I also think it will be more effective if you “personalize” it: “I am in love with one boy and in lust with another. It’s complicated, especially when one doesn’t know I’m in love with him.

There’ll be real trouble if the other finds out what I want to do with him. [You could make this new paragraph intentional.]

I have to stop.

Stop staring, for one. One day, he was…” [Obviously, this is all just a suggestion, but I hope you’re seeing how the flow changes a little bit, draws in a bit more.]

We sat in my kitchen with our school stuff strewn all over the table. Papers weighted down by books so the fan circulating in the corner wouldn't blow them away. It was early May and Mom forbade me from turning on the air conditioning until June. Fortunately, the breeze coming through the window screen was cool, and the fans were all we needed to keep the air from becoming stifling.

Watch your adverbs. You can definitely restructure some of your sentences to get rid of the adverbs.

I would have liked to know that they are at home sooner—I thought classroom, so home is good, actually, since we don’t see that very often with this kind of love interest set-up.

I do like how this reads, though; I can hear the voice in my head.

I put my hands over my face and said, "Why can't I just learn things by osmosis?"

I heard the grin in his voice. "C'mon, Chrys. It's not so bad."


Meh. This stalls the progress of the plot—I need something to happen here, and if they’re going to sit around and discuss schoolwork, I’m not going to be sufficiently engaged. I’d start skimming here, if I were reading this as a query.

My full name, which no one is allowed to use, is Chrysanthemum Violet. My mom's a little...obsessed with flowers.

"That's easy for you to say. You're kind of a genius."

"Says the valedictorian."

"Not only that, but you're addicted to this stuff."


The stuff re: the name is setting up character/the world before it’s necessary. We don’t need to know her full name here—we can wait a chapter, even, before we learn it. The dialogue is no more interesting than it was beforehand, not to mention that I’m not getting a sense of how these characters move and interact with each other, etc.

To be continued...

Secret Agent said...

I’d keep reading, since I like the voice, am curious about the title, and enjoy the love versus lust comparison you have going here, but I’m not hooked, per se.