Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Fait Accompli
GENRE: YA

I'd been stalking Dev for about two months before I slipped up and let anybody find out. Belle Fourche High School's motto, emblazoned on the library shelf, received my full fake attention. Incipit Vita Nova (here begins new life).

Pretty appropriate actually. I ran my finger along the row of Biology books, pushing my other hand into the back pocket of my jeans. Sarah tilted forward, craning her head to see down the long row of shelves to Dev. He stood with an open book in his hand, engrossed.

‘What's the deal with him?' As soon as it slipped out, I mentally slapped myself. Gossip? Not high on my list of priorities. Talking to Sarah, the biggest gossip in the place? Even lower.

‘Dev?' She leaned towards me and lowered her voice. ‘He arrived not long before you. Sent to live with family out on Home Farm.' She glanced back in his direction, satisfying herself that he hadn't moved. ‘They have their own church up there, you know. I've never seen him at the mall, or the movies, or anywhere we go. He's cute Ana, don't you think?' Oh God. ‘But my dad says it's some kind of cult they've got going up there and we should all stay clear.' She paused, and for a second Dev stared right at the back of Sarah's head.

16 comments:

Sara J. Henry said...

Last paragraph = info dump

I think this may be an intriguing story, but I think we need to see a bit more of Dev before all this info comes out.

Ramona Dark said...

I'm intrigued by this Dev character! Something tells me Sarah's got it all wrong about the cult business. If I read the first few pages of this in a bookstore I'd definitely pick up the book.

Jen said...

I agree that the second paragraph is an info dump. I'd like to know more about Dev, but I'm not completely hooked.

This is nitpicky, but this sentence "Sent to live with family out on Home Farm" bothers me. It doesn't flow with the dialog from Sara. Maybe if we knew it was his family, or what part of his family he was sent to live with.

Locksley said...

I like the YA idea of stalking the cute boy and you immediately introduce the side-kick (which is good), so all I can offer is some tidying-up.

In the first sentence I thought "slipped up and let anyboy find out." was a bit awkward and none specific. Perhaps "slipped up allowing Sarah (or whomever) to figure it out. If it is Sarah, it makes her intro, a little later, less jarring. If you don't want to be specific, then you can finish the sentence with slipped up. IMO.

In paragraph two and in the last para you should split the para when you switch to Sarah, either in dialogue or observation. I'd also add 'My friend' Sarah tilted forward. This properly intros and signals the switch, otherwise people might get confused over whetehr you suddenly switched to third person, and with agents you don't want them to hesitate for a moment. Picture a greasy guillotine.

Easy enough to fix, nice story, I'd read on.

Lori W. said...

I love that line where she is running her finger across the book. The MC has a strong voice, and you've used lots of visual verbs (I hope that makes sense) so that I'm right there in that library. Nice work.

I had to read the "full fake attention" sentence twice, though I eventually got that she was only pretending to be interested in it. I'd also recommend changing the order of some of the sentences. She hasn't slipped up yet; she's about to do that. You can cut the second sentence or move it down as a thought she has when she opens her mouth to Ana.

I agree with the suggestions that you trim Ana's dialog, and let us find this info. out later in smaller bits.

I hope Dev sees your MC checking him out! Best wishes!

Penelope Wright said...

"Here begins new life" followed by "Pretty appropriate actually" makes me think this is going to be a teen pregnancy book. If that's not where you're going with it, I'd alter those lines.

Marne said...

I thought this was a great start to an interesting story. I like the protagonist, her thoughts made me chuckle. I'd read more.

Barbara said...

First parg - the first sentence has nothing to do with the second sentence, and as someone said, she hasn't slipped up yet. And the second sentence - Is there only one shelf in the library? (change 'the' to 'a') And shelves are usually pretty thin, so even if the motto's emblazoned, it's not very big. Be sure you're writing what you mean to convey.

Last parg - as pointed out, is an info dump. Get this info out some other way.

The cult idea, though, is interesting. Perhaps this library scene isn't the place to start. Maybe we need to see Ana stalking Dev out at the Home Farm so we can actually see it's a cult for ourselves? Start it at the point when something goes wrong.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm intrigued. While stalking is definitely creepy, it didn't come off that way here. What teenage girl hasn't "stalked" her crush? Or maybe that was just me.

Loved the first sentence but the second didn't really flow from it.

I found the last paragraph to be too cluttered. Maybe break it up a little into shorter paragraphs. Of course that might be just the way it comes off on this blog.



Great job! I'd definitely keep reading.

Casper said...

Thank you all for commenting. I'm so pleased so many of you would take the time. (And yes, Stina, the jump to plain text isn't doing any favours for my formatting, but never mind, it's the same for everyone - I'm just thrilled to be here : ) )

Secret Agent said...

This is a great first line. But it's disjointed from the rest of the paragraph. Good set up but the follow through just isn't there.

I like the voice but don't love the set up. I guess I just need a better sense of your protag and less of an information overload about others.

I'd keep reading, though.

BetsyN said...

You've rec'd some good advice in the previous comments, so I've nothing new to add. I like this one, though. :)

Casper said...

Check me out - total writing newbie! I've read, re-read, edited and obsessed over this first chapter, of course. But in the quest for a killer first line I never really looked at the first few paragraphs like this before. Seems so obvious that I should have now!

I've had a quick fix tinker with this, so if anyone pops in for a read, I'd love your opinion on the edit.

I’d been stalking Dev for about two months before I messed up and let anybody find out. ‘What’s the deal with him?’ As soon as it slipped out, I mentally slapped myself. Gossip? Not high on my list of priorities. Talking to Sarah, the biggest gossip in the place? Even lower.
She tilted forward, craning her head to see down the long row of shelves to Dev. He stood with an open book in his hand, engrossed.
She leaned towards me and lowered her voice. ‘Dev?’
Belle Fourche High School’s motto, emblazoned on the library shelf, received my full fake attention. Incipit Vita Nova (here begins new life).
Pretty appropriate actually.
I ran my finger along the row of Biology books, pushing my other hand into the back pocket of my jeans.
She glanced back in his direction, satisfying herself that he hadn’t moved. ‘They have their own church up there, you know. I’ve never seen him at the mall, or the movies, or anywhere we go. He’s cute Ana, don’t you think?’
Oh God.
‘But my dad says it’s some kind of cult they’ve got going up there and we should all stay clear.’ She paused, and for a second Dev stared right at the back of Sarah’s head.

Casper said...

Oh where are my manners? Thanks so much for reading Secret Agent. It makes me look like this :) to think an actual agent read something I wrote.

Penelope Wright said...

Hi Casper,

I saw your post in the comments on the Friday Fricasse and searched through until I found yours! (You might want to add in the comments that you're #23.) :)

I like how you've rearranged it, I think that it flows better and gets us into the action quicker. I also like that you've added some new action, with her slipping her hand in her back pocket. It's little details like that which make a story seem "real" to me, you know? I can get to writing and realize I've just written a whole bunch of dialog and for all my readers know my characters are just standing there like cardboard cutouts talking to each other, so then I have to go back and imagine them gesturing and moving around while they're talking, and I add that stuff in. It doesn't come naturally to me on a first draft, but I'm getting better at it, and I always appreciate a good "action" detail. :)

Also, thank you for your super nice comments on my entry (#37). That really made me happy!

Casper said...

Thanks Penelope. I know I'm #23 - can't everyone pick that up via some kind of osmosis? ;) I really don't think sometimes.

I'm not huge on detail either - but I'm all about the eyes. I swear I lost 5K from my ms just editing out the word 'looked' :P

Your entry deserved nice comments - I'm still dying to know what happens in the rest of the story!