Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #25

TITLE: The Grave Winner
GENRE: YA Paranormal

We stood rooted in place long after Mom's funeral, just the three of us. The weight in my chest threatened to suffocate me if I looked at the lid of her gleaming casket any longer. I focused on the sky instead, at the black birds cutting across the wisps of clouds in a sharp V formation. The thump of my heart echoed the rhythm of their beating wings. They pressed on until the clouds took them from me.
A different flutter in the corner of my eye pulled me back to earth. The movement took a few seconds to penetrate my numb brain until I realized I was staring at a girl. She crept in and out of the crumbling headstones, her body thick with mud and grime. Torn scraps of what looked like a prom dress hung from her scrawny frame. Her mouth sagged open like she was about to scream.

A shudder chased across my shoulder blades. I shook my head, trying to clear it. Darby stood next to me, and I reached out to touch my little sister. She was real. Her ache was real. I felt it in the quiver of her bony body. But beyond her and the heaviness pinching my lungs, I couldn't be sure of anything.
Inky black footprints tracked underneath the dangling hem of the girl's dress like a trail of burnt breadcrumbs. She stopped beside a tree and leaned her back against it.


  1. Definitely want to know more about this girl that the MC is seeing. Don't know if MC is female or male.
    I don't know if it's just me but I am surprised by the MC's invisible reaction besides a shudder and then grabbing her sister. Maybe a little more description about her emotion to this tattered girl moving through the cemetary?
    Otherwise I'm hooked.

  2. Seems like a slap in the face to the mom to have some weird event like this happen during her funeral. It takes away from the emotion we're supposed to be sharing with the MC. Maybe if you introduce the prom girl a little bit later and focus more on the funeral at the beginning... I don't know. Reading just this excerpt, I'm now sure who I'm supposed to care about.

    And who is Darby?

  3. A little confused towards the end of the excerpt, but I like the introduction of the graveyard girl. As Empress Awesome said, it's kind of jarring to feel remorse for the MC and her family, then get drawn into a paranormal mystery literally the next second. Perhaps you were just trying to introduce the hook within the first 250.

    Could you possibly have the "three of us" revisiting their mother's grave on the anniversary of her death/birthday? Or would this interfere with the story?

    I'd love to see how this ends up and with a bit of tightening it could be unique. The title is awesome by the way!

    Good luck!

  4. The sentence with Darby and the little sister is confusing. I thought Darby was the little sister? but then I remembered there were three? Anyway, it took me out a bit.

    I like the girl in the dress. Definitely sets the mood for the type of book you've written, I believe. I wasn't as jarred by the switch of attention, but maybe it could use a little smoothing.

    I liked it. I would read more!

  5. I think the writing is lovely and lyrical. I am hooked!

  6. I had a few questions as I read. Is Darby her little sister, and the third person is unnamed. Or is it her, Darby, and her little sister?

    My other question is, why isn't she turning to the others and saying "Look! Do you see what I see?"

    And when she touches her little sister, wouldn't her sister look up at her, see her staring at something, and look, too?

    I guess I can't believe that the others aren't at least noticing her behavior, considering how close they're standing to each other.

    Other than that, I thought it was well written with some nice imagery (liked the burnt bread crumbs) and I'd read more to find out who the girl is, and if she's dead or alive.

  7. I'm really unsure what the footprints under the dangling hem really mean ... where are the footprints - on the ground? Then wouldn't they be behind the girl, not under her, as they show where she *was*, not where she is?

    Still intrigues me, though! Would want to know what happens next.

  8. I like the idea of meeting a girl as she's creeping through a cemetery. But cemeteries are somewhat cliche so be careful that this plays an integral role.

    Also, it's a bit contradictory that they are standing in the cemetery after the funeral staring at the lid of the casket--wouldn't that be underground at that point?

    Be careful with making your prose clear.