Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #3

TITLE: Dogwood
GENRE: YA Paranormal

I watched the clock; counted the seconds. But still, I jumped when the bell rang. Because lunch is the worst part of my day. I picked an empty table--a different one than yesterday. The chairs filled around me without a single occupant asking to sit or saying hello or even nodding in my general direction. Same as always. I studied their faces. I'd gone to elementary school with more than half of them, and they talked to me then. Maybe in sixth grade, I contracted a disease: Social Invisibility. Maybe it's contagious. I faked a sneeze. Loud. Not one person turned to look. I launched a coughing fit. Nothing. No reaction, good or bad. I opened my water bottle and poured a clear stream in the center of the table. It veered right, just missing Angela Baker's purse. The boy sitting in the path of certain disaster stood up, looked for the source--looked through me--shook his head, and moved to another seat. The water pooled on the floor.

The best part of my school day is the afternoon walk to the bus. Usually. Today, the unseasonably warm weather seemed to add to my restless mood. Spring had come early to Coalfield, Virginia. Everywhere I looked, bright yellow forsythia blooms reminded me of where I'd rather be, and the poorly masked stench of pubescent body odor rising from the green vinyl seats reminded me that summer was close. My last summer before high school.

12 comments:

Lady G Pendragon said...

I was so interested in the first paragraph and why the other students are ignoring/can't see the main character that the transitions to the weather/town/setting in general caught me offguard. As a reader, I want to know more about why this person is being ignored even though he or she is trying desperately to gain attention. Is it important that this takes place in Virgina, or that forsythia is blooming so early in the story? I really wanted to know more about this character and the circumstances surrounding him or her.

RLG said...

I liked the first paragraph better than the second (while stinkily sensory, I think the "pubescent body odor" pulled me out a bit--would a high school kid describe it that way? Maybe, if it was an SAT word...) I like the Virginia setting, although I'm more interested in the character.

Barbara said...

You have the hook of nobody noticing this kid, which worked to get my attention. I wanted to know why, especially since they noticed him in elementary school. What changed?

It seems he is watching the clock in the classroom and is then suddenly in the caf. You may want to add a transition between the two and show him leaving the class and getting to the caf, otherwise, he's just magically there. You might also want to break that parg into smaller pargs.

The last parg is where you lost me. It's nicely written but it seemed to come out of left field. One minute he's in the caf, the next he's on the bus going home. Again, a transition would help, but you might be better off staying with the idea you orignally introduced - not being noticed.

Sarah Erber said...

I'd like to add, but I feel the same as the commenters above.

SA entrant #3 said...

Some of the formatting was lost in the email transfer. In my manuscript, the first paragraph is divided into four. :)

Marice Kraal said...

Ah, good to know about the formatting as that can make a difference to the perception of what's going on. I would like to know why everyone is ignoring the MC, are they really invisible? I'd like to know where it is that the MC would rather be. I'd read more.

Laura said...

I'll disagree with those above. I liked the second paragraph better than the first. I thought the first went on a bit too long and included too much backstory. It appears the mc is a ghost...but then why is she eating and spilling water? If she's not a ghost, it's not quite believable that no one can see her. I loved this line: the poorly masked stench of pubescent body odor rising from the green vinyl seats reminded me that summer was close.

Sara J. Henry said...

Good. I'd definitely keep reading.

Secret Agent said...

What I liked: Like some others, I was intrigued as to why no one notices this character. I was left to assume s/he was a ghost (but hoped I was wrong, because if that’s the case, it shouldn’t be so obvious). Some nice descriptions and sense of place in the second paragraph.

What needed work: Transitions. We need to see the character getting from here to there and not simply moving from the classroom to the cafeteria to the bus with nothing in between. Unless he's a ghost and materializing from place to place.

Some of the descriptions in the second paragraph were interesting, though I did wonder how a walk to the bus—which I imagined would be very brief—could be the best part of a day.

Be mindful of run-on sentences. A semicolon is used to separate two independent clauses that could stand alone as their own sentences. When the first sentence of the sample—“I watched the clock; counted the seconds.”—is grammatically incorrect, it gives me pause. I give the writer the benefit of the doubt and assume it was a stylistic choice, but it makes me wary. A better example comes later with: “The best part of my school day is the afternoon walk to the bus. Usually.” Here, this gets across the voice and is done with what feels like more purpose.

You'll see as I go through these that common errors make me very hesitant.

Would I continue reading based on this first page? Yes, but with trepidation.

spiral said...

Hooked. I like the voice - kind of down-trodden, defeated. Wondering if this person is a ghost - or just a total outcast? I'd read more to find out. I would only suggest you rework the first three sentences for a "hookier" lead in. It has potential for a strong impact - Good Luck!

Sarah said...

I like the idea. I read it it as though the MC was being ignored rather than invisible. One thing though, is it possible to get the name in at all? I'd at least like to know if it is a boy or a girl.

karen lee said...

It might seem like a ghost--though don't think a ghost would feel the unseasonably warm weather. So he/she must be an outcast, and I feel sad for MC and want to know why. So, read on , I will.