Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #39


Senior Class Motto: Knowledge is the locker, but I forgot the combination

If I hadn't opened my big mouth the first week of senior year and asked what I could do to get a better grade, I wouldn't be trapped behind closed doors with Mr. Tandish, my psychology teacher.

I hope he can't read my mind and discover I think he's sexy. I start to worry that he may not like five-foot-four girls with brown hair and hazel eyes. Not that I can change the color of my eyes…unless I get brown or blue contact lenses. And I could dye my hair blonde or red, but I'm not sure which he prefers…

Mr. Tandish adjusts his red power tie and leans back against his chair to give me a closer look at his long eyelashes and dimples. Just when I'm picturing the two of us together in the back of his white convertible with my hair half-blonde and half-red, he says, "You're very bright, Jane, but you may have psychological issues that could be hampering your grades."

His woodsy aftershave, which a minute ago smelled sexy, now makes me dizzy. I squirm in my chair and wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans. "Me? Psychological issues? It's not schizophrenia, is it? Still, if I start hearing voices, I'll have somebody to talk to because my only friend moved all the way across the country from Wisconsin."


  1. I would read more of this because I like the MC's voice. I think the description paragraph is a bit too much too soon. I know it sets up the 'with my hair half-blonde' line which I like so I'm not sure how you'd get round that - maybe drop the height and eye colour in later? Just a thought.

    I love the last sentence, it makes me want to find out more.

  2. I kind of love everything about this. I love the title, I love the voice, the writing, and I especially love this MC! She's got issues! Well done!

  3. Great job, and the voice was nice to read. Maybe "slim" some of the descriptors right off the bat, to slowly lure us in, but hey, personal preference. Overall, great job and I want to read on!

  4. I would agree with the last post, maybe reveal some of the character traits without being so obvious. Nice job on the character development, although she seems a little bit of a cliché.

  5. I like the hook and would keep reading to learn more about her psychological issues. Cut down on the physical description (brown hair and hazel eyes) or replace it with unique characteristics that will set her apart.

  6. I agree with most of the comments that this could be cut and tightened... save some of the description for later. The half-red, half-blonde line is great as it gives us a sense of her. Voice is good. Conflict is good and present. Way to get the story started fast! And I LOVE the title. I'd definitely keep reading!

  7. Not in love with this. The crush on the old guy creeps me out.

  8. I'm not bothered by the descriptors, and I love the half-blond half-red line too. But I'm confused about why she's not happy about being trapped alone with him. To me, that sounds like she's scared of him not like she has a crush.

    Also, I'd describe him as hot and not sexy since you use sexy again just a little bit later in a way that seems more authentic to the voice.

  9. I love the last line, but I had real trouble with the tone of the teacher crush combined with "trapped behind closed doors". It might work if it were limited to a sentence or two.

  10. I loved the first line :) However, I agree with previous comments- it seems slightly odd that she'd be both scared of him and find him attractive at the same time.

  11. I really thought this voice was fun, and not cliche at all. I haven't come across too many main characters who are leaning toward the ditzy side so much (usually they're the best friends). Anyway, I found it refreshing and fun!

    Clearing up a few of the ideas (does she want to be alone with him vs afraid to be alone with him), would really tighten this up, but I would read more without a doubt. Good!

  12. I thought this had great voice. At the same time the text seemed to convey two different things. One I am thinking he is a creeper, until you bring in the crush. What kind of game is this guy playing with a student? I would cut down the description a bit, but I do think your trying to show your MC would change in any way to please him.

  13. Seems a trifle cluttered, but I'd read on to see what happens.

  14. I like the voice, but the paragraph beginning 'I wish I hadn't opened my big mouth...' doesn't make sense to me, because surely she'd be thrilled to be stuck in a room with a teacher she has a crush on? Also I think the 2nd and 3rd paras could be cut down a bit. And the last line sounds a bit odd, I think she's more likely to say her best friend moved across the country, or where her friend moved TO - saying they're in Wisconsin sounds a bit too much like 'You know, Bob' dialogue.

    I'd still read on though, it has a fun vibe.

  15. Teacher crush in High School I'm okay with, and she shouldn't be so upset about being there considering how hard she seems to be crushing on him. I do have a small issue with the class. Psychology class in High School? If it didn't say YA for the genre, I would have ignored the senior class references and assumed college. Maybe make it clear it's an elective? Prep school maybe? If its a YA novel, a young adult has to relate, or maybe I'm just really not paying attention to current HS electives.

  16. Hmmm. So I'm not sure why she needs better grades in the first week since she wouldn't have grades to improve upon! Also, her worrying about him not liking her hair colour is a little silly since the biggest problem between them is oh, the fact that IT'S ILLEGAL! She can ignore this if she wants but you should tell us she is doing so (for example, by saying something like, "I'm not so worried about the fact that he'd get fired as I am that...")

    I'd also suggest that you find a way to tell us that she is ACTUALLY in his classroom from the start. As written, it sounds too hypothetical and it took me until paragraph 3 to figure out she was serious.

    Final comment: the "psychological issues" is a little clunky for a teacher of this subject. I would expect him to be more specific.

  17. I really loved this! I took psychology in high school, but my teacher did not look like that. I wish he did.

    I really loved you MC's voice. It was distinct and amusing. I could almost see her sitting there, thinking about how sexy he is instead of paying attention to what he's saying. It's very relatable, as well. I had a sexy substitute teacher once who was just too distracting.

    This part of her dialogue: "Me? Psychological issues?" Was great. The rest of it seemed kind of overdone to me. Overall, though, awesome job! I would keep reading.

  18. Loved the title. Loved the motto, and when I met your MC, I thought she fit right in.

    But it does have issues. What grades does she need to improve after only week of school?

    Why doesn't she want to be trapped behind closed doors with her crush? Why is that a bad thing?

    I wonder why her psychology teacher who, I would imagine, should be teaching psychology, is instead analyzing Jane? And again, after a week of school, what grades does she need to improve?

    I didn't have a problem with the way you got her description in because, while it may not be the way a writer does it, it seemed exactly the way someone like Jane would, and we're in her POV, not the writer's.

    I also wonder if this will carry well through an entire novel or if will get tiring. Humor (IMO) is the hardest thing to do. So far, you're doing it.

  19. I really like the opening motto and your MC’s voice (especially when she thinks “Just when I'm picturing the two of us together in the back of his white convertible with my hair half-blonde and half-red…” ). Her voice is silly (in a good way) and, though the descriptions sometimes border stereotypical, I would read on to see where it goes.

    However, I do have some questions and suggestions (most of which have already been mentioned in above comments):

    I don’t really see how her “opening her big fat mouth” to ask how she could get a better grade would lead to a psychological analysis from her teacher. I like the idea, but it feels as though I’m missing something. Did she maybe say something (on impulse) for the sole purpose of attracting his attention/concern?

    It seems strange that she’s developed this complete infatuation with him and yet doesn’t want to be stuck in a room with him alone. If she’s torn between her fright and attraction, it should probably be mentioned earlier on to avoid future confusion. The concept would be quite interesting….

    Despite these little hiccups in the writing, I quite enjoyed it and would look forward to reading more. :)

  20. I like the concept of the MC having a crush on the teacher, and I think you're doing a nice job with her voice and character development (though, be careful that her quirky enthusiasm doesn't come off as air headed) but I'm concerned about two things:

    The first, it seems a bit too easy that she's behind closed doors with this teacher because she asked about getting better grades. I'd like to see a better reason that not only puts her in this situation but demonstrates more about her character. Was she in trouble? Failing? Forgetting to Read? refusing to do homework? Fighting with other students etc...

    Second, and this is a matter of credibility, if he's her psychology teacher he's not in a position to diagnos her. It's Illegal, and it NEEDS to be addressed. Even if Mr. Tandish says something like "I'm your teacher, so I can't counsel or evaluate you, but I'm going to recommend you talk to the school psychologist because I think you have some issues that..." then I'd buy it. But, as it stands, all I kept thinking about was how this would NEVER happen.

  21. Dear Secret Agent,

    Thanks so much for your input.

    I hope you'll be glad to hear that Mr. Tandish does tell her he can't diagnose her and to seek professional help. It just doesn't happen in the first 250 words.

    I like your idea about why she's there. That also comes out just a few paragraphs later.

    Thanks again for your feedback. I'll see if I can't work in those two bits of information sooner in the chapter.