Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Starlight
GENRE: YA sci-fi

Teenagers, they say, think they're immortal. Teenagers don't consider the consequences of their actions or believe it can happen to them, and by it I mean death. Death is something on the news. Death is only movies and games. It happens to other people; it happens in other places. Not to them. Never to them. That's what they say. But I have no idea who they are because they obviously have never met me. Because I think about it. A lot. As a matter of fact, I'm thinking about it right now.

I wince as I crab-crawl with one arm backwards over the ground littered with jagged sandstone. The rocks bite into my palm but I keep backing up until my hand shoots out into empty air. The drop off is behind me and I've got nowhere else to go. I debate for a split second that I could easily jump up and sprint off into the dark safety of the woods. I know he wouldn't be able to catch me. But then my eyes land on the reason I'm here, the reason this is happening, and I know I won't. I'm not going to leave her.

My mind goes to strange places, different outcomes, all the things that may happen in a few seconds. I stare ahead and watch him, praying he'll trip and fall right over the edge. Take a hundred foot swan dive to the rocks below. That will solve the problem. One of them, anyway.


  1. I like the tone of this opening. I gather the narrarator would be a teenager and thus, it sounds too detatched for him/her to refer to "teenagers." Perhaps add a "we" in there so it's "We teenagers, they say, think we're immortal. We don't consider the consequences of our actions or believe It can happen to us, and by It I mean death."

  2. I don't find it detached at all to make reference to a common assumption/stereotype this way.

    This drew me in and kept me at that level of interest throughout. Great job and I wanna read on!

  3. I really liked the last two paragraphs of this -- engaging, interesting, high-stakes.

    The first paragraph was a little more problematic for me. It definitely wasn't off-putting enough to stop me reading, but it felt a tad like a lecture, and it wasn't totally clear until the end that the narrator is a teen. The "we" idea above is interesting. You might also try adding in more "I" to the paragraph -- "I've heard it more times than I can count. 'Teenagers think they're immortal. They don't consider the consequences of their actions or believe death can happen to them.' Well, I think about death..."

  4. I think your opening paragraph should be the second one. It's the most gripping one, and it immediately gets me into the narrator's situation, including story tension. I'm also wondering who the him and the her are, and would like to keep reading to find out.

  5. Yes, I agree with switching the two paragraphs-the first for the second. It's even more gripping. I'm caught in the action too and want to keep on reading.

  6. The second and third paragraphs are really enticing. The first could be edited quite a bit. You seem to be repeating the same thoughts over and over. You could probably cut it down to one really punchy sentence.

    Great job, though. This sounds like an interesting book! Best of luck.


  7. I kind of like your first paragraph (sorry! I know it doesn't help when readers disagree!) because it gives a sense of character. I like your others, too, but I want a few more details about exactly where the narrator is by the time this selection is done so I can know where to be tense and where to feel safe, if that makes sense. But it definitely pulls me in, and I'd read more.

  8. I thought you could cut the entire first parg. It's a slow opening and doesn't really tell us much. Your MC is in a difficult situation, and she wouldn't be sitting there thinking all this. And if you move this so it's the second parg, then you'll be interrupting the action in order to have a chat with the reader. The 2nd and 3rd pargs are where you're story is, so you might want to build on them.

    I would have also liked a bit of description of where she was. Is she out in the open? Scrambling through brush? Can'he' see her?

    You say she can see him, and that would give you a perfect opportunity to describe him and let the reader see who he is. She also sees 'her' so you could say who 'she' is too. And if you cut that first parg, you'd have plenty of room to do it. If she has to get philosophical, let her do it somewhere besides the first page.

  9. I like it - but I'm confused by the crab-crawling backwards ... if she's backwards, her palm won't be hitting the ground, but her elbow. If you mean crab-crawl in the reverse direction, say so.

  10. I agree with some others about the idea of eliminating the first paragraph, or at least you could cut it down to two or three sentences tops. Then again, the two paragraphs still seem rather detached from each other. The action is good, but I would like a little more detail on who "him" and "her" are. Otherwise, that last paragraph is gripping.

  11. The first paragraph is high concept and bogs the narrative down. The second and third are so much more interesting. It's okay to have a line or two that are high concept if they play into the present situation (and I think yours does), but as is, the first paragraph doesn't work because it's too long and introspective.

  12. I actually like the first paragraph, but I'm not 100% sure it's meant to be the same pov as the rest of the snippet. At first I thought it was an adult's pov and then I thought it might even be Death's. If you decide to keep the first paragraph, I suggest you make the pov clearer.

    The rest is great and I'd read more. [I do agree with Sara about the crab crawling]

  13. I like this a lot. I think the writing gets stronger through the passage and I'm drawn in a lot more by the end.

    You do a good job with first person present and it adds to the immediacy of what's going on. The "I've got" in the second paragraph could be "I have" and that would flow smoother. Otherwise, I really enjoyed your language use and sentence structure.

    That being said, the first few sentences of the first paragraph come across as a little preachy until you get to the part involving the MC. There's a bit of a disconnect between each of the paragraphs and it's most pronounced between the first and the second. I think you could get rid of the first paragraph without losing anything. The second paragraph would be an excellent starting point.

    Also, I had no trouble understanding the crab crawling and could picture it perfectly. To me, that description really communicated the MC's situation because it's the sort of thing you see the protagonist do in horror movies when they're trying to get away.

    Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  14. What I liked: The situation, once it becomes apparent.

    What needed work: The first paragraph nearly lost me, and as a query, I may not have made my way past it (unless the pitch was strong, of course). I did feel the sample picked up speed after that, however.

    I felt some things in the second and third paragraph were obscured too much, like the whole “But then my eyes land on the reason I’m here, the reason this is happening…” I realize the author is trying to build intrigue and interest, but after the clunky first paragraph, I have less patience at this point. Remember not to give a reader a reason to stop.

    Would I read on based on this sample? Yes, but with hesitation.

  15. I liked this a lot. I think the idea of the first paragraph is useful to establish the contrast between the narrator and a "normal" teenager, but it could be cut down. The same idea could be conveyed in probably half as many words without losing the purpose. That would let you get to the action more quickly.