Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #48

GENRE: YA mystery

Not here, Brooke begged herself. Please, get sick anywhere but here.

Who was she kidding? Knowing that Sarah had died at this mile marker had everything to do with her queasiness. Brooke gripped the door handle and hiccupped. “Aunt Lynn, you’d better pull over.”
The woman driving the Suburban scowled as she braked. Lynn had grumbled enough when her niece had peeled a chunk of mud from her running shoe, so Brooke bailed out before she ruined the leather upholstery. Her hand dragged along the fender as she rushed to the front, half-expecting her aunt to forget why she’d stopped if her passenger wasn’t visible. Lynn had ignored her after the mud incident.
As the June breeze soothed Brooke’s clammy face and her nausea eased, she studied the scene and imagined how it had looked six months ago – the level stretch of highway bordered with wide ribbons of white instead of green, the massive evergreen tree with fresh rather than fading scars – and she came to one inescapable conclusion. This was all wrong.

No matter how much snow the past winter had dumped on them, this Minnesota highway had been designed to handle it. And Sarah had been too good of a driver to make a dumb – and fatal - mistake on a safe stretch of road like this. Something else had to have happened.

The Suburban’s horn blared and raw fear propelled Brooke into the ditch.

“You gonna puke or not?” Lynn yelled.

“Maybe in the car,” Brooke muttered.


  1. I really like this--especially the mystery element-- but my only problem is too many proper nouns to keep track of early on. I'm left a bit confused-- not from lack of clarity, but from sheer numbers of people in a short amount of time.

  2. I like the mystery element. I agree with PVS that you are introducing too many characters too quickly. It was a bit hard to follow.

    Also (and I say this as someone who lost a dear friend in high school in a horrific car accident), it may not be believable for her to be having this strong a reaction six months later. Still sad, still grieving, still freezing up or imagining what-ifs, yes. But puking seems a little extreme. Maybe if we were talking weeks and she hadn't been past that spot before then.

    But I like the, "something didn't add up," element.

    Good job!

  3. Lots of interesting stuff here, but something niggled at me. Took me a while to figure out what it was, but I have issues with this part:

    "...and she came to one inescapable conclusion. This was all wrong."

    Brooke's sudden realization that something was "wrong" about the crash doesn't ring true with me. Six months after the accident, I feel like it wouldn't be her first thought to be outright suspicious of the circumstances of her friend's death, not when she's at the scene of the accident for the first time.

    I feel like a hint of almost-healed grief would be natural - or even frustration and confusion, which could plant suspicion in the reader without Brooke having to feel it: "Brooke swallowed the lump in her throat. It was so unfair. Sarah had been a good driver, and this highway had been designed to handle anything the Minnesota weather threw at them. How had this safe stretch of road turned into a death sentence? How?"

    Could just be me, but I can't see her getting out of the car, looking around, and being like, "Hey wait a second... this is too good of a road for Sarah to have crashed here."

    Good luck. It's definitely an intriguing set-up.

  4. Hooked me right off the bat, n' the thick tension of what-happened-in-the-past kept me reading to the end. And the ending absolutely FLOORED ME.


  5. I really liked this. The first line pulled me in and has a great sense of mystery.

    The only issues: the line about Lynn ignoring her stood out for some reason- I think it could be tossed. Also I just am not sure about the transition from being sick, a fussy aunt, then realizing the accident wasn't one.

    I like the voice, and the writing is good- just maybe re work that part. Maybe just have her shiver and have an odd feeling? maybe she could really think about it later?

    Nice work!

  6. agree it's hard to keep the characters straight, but this has potential.

    Maybe stick with two characters and tighten the writing...

    Good luck

  7. I would keep reading. I liked it. Everything was clear to me, except for the line about her aunt forgetting she stopped. For some reason that one jarred me and I had to read it again. I had no trouble keeping track of the names you mentioned. Its a girl riding with her aunt and thinking about her friend. A believable scene. Nice job.

  8. I like the mystery this first page introduces, but I agree with Riley. It seems a bit jarring to go from Brooke being nauseous and grief-stricken to coming to a logical conclusion about her friend's death. And this might be just me, but I'd try to bring Brooke here alone if possible. The parts with her aunt were distracting, I felt.

  9. Good start; I think you can tighten up the writing - cut down on adjectives, some are unnecessary esp in the evergreen paragraph.

    In the first sentence; if you're talking to yourself, you might not be so polite "get sick" - you might just say, (i would), don't puke here.

  10. I like the premise and there is a lot of drama in this scene with her visiting the location where her friend died. I like that she will try to find out what really happened. However, I felt the relationship with the Aunt was a bit hard to buy. I found it really bothersome. Do you need this negative relationship for some reason? Is this b*&^% of a woman central to the story? If not, I'd write her more sympathetically because I found it detracted from my sympathy for the MC's loss and situation. If the b*&^%$ aunt is central in some way, then by all means keep her, but otherwise, I'd make her more sympathetic. This conflict may be unnecessary to the scene, in other words.

    Good luck!

  11. Agree with other comments that your premise is engaging but that there are some elements which don't ring true. Also I'd love to have a little more sense of the MC/s character through voice. Suggestion: maybe she has asked her aunt to stop here to CONFIRM her suspicions...she drives by here a lot or has thought about it a lot...whatever. It's been bugging her and now she's sure that "something doesn't add up." Also agree that the aunt is too psychotic: esp with that line about how maybe she'd forget about her passenger if she didn't see her. That is one crazy lady and you don't want her to overshadow your MC.

  12. I agree with Riley about the too sudden assumption that something wasn't right, and thought she gave you some good advice on how to rectify that bit.

    As for the aunt, I actually liked her as a foil, and loved your last two lines. Aunty may not be nice, but she adds a nice bit of conflict to the story. THose two lines are what make me want to read on.

    I did wonder though, why she was with her aunt in the first place, seeing as how they don't seem to like each other. You might get that in in the part where she brakes the car.

    In that same parg, I realize you're trying to differentiate between the two 'she's,' but as written, it's a really clunky parg. Try telling it strictly from Brooke's POV, where Brooke is always 'she' and Aunt Lynn is named.

  13. Brooke’s logic in assuming her friend didn’t die by an accident seems both sudden and flawed. Good drivers make fatal mistakes all the time, especially in wintery conditions. And why would it strike her now, rather than any other time in the past 6 months? Her thoughts don’t seem really tied to what she’s seeing there, so that doesn’t seem to be the reason. The premise has great intrigue, but already I’m not buying the set-up, so it’ll be hard for me to buy the mystery.