Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #1

TITLE: Kids Like Us
GENRE: Contemporary YA

Adelaine Cross lay perfectly still. Her mother’s old sheet rested beneath her on the sand. The sun spread like wild-fire against her skin. This is what it feels like to be gone, she thought. Certainly, if she couldn’t see anyone, they couldn’t see her. If she lay still enough, the spectacle around her would come to a grinding halt. And if she closed her ears and trapped her mind she could find a way to silence the world. But she heard Reagan’s voice cut across the brass band hum. “Addie!”

She flattened her palms.


She wanted so badly to be still, to stay on that stretch of beach until she disappeared. She opened her eyes. All she saw was Rabbit Island’s bright blue canvas sky. “What?”

“What do you mean, what? You were supposed to meet me twenty minutes ago.”

She continued to stare up at the blue.

“They’re starting,” Reagan continued. “Are you coming or not?”

“Not,” Adelaine stated. And she sat up, exhausted from another sleepless night, her eyes stinging from the brightness, her back aching as she stretched up to the sky.

Reagan plopped down next to her, leaned her arms back into the sand. She flipped back a wild mane of hair, so black against her pale, freckled skin. Her graphic tee slipped to reveal one pink shoulder. Long feather earrings tickled the base of neck.

“Why won’t you go?” Reagan asked.

“It’s the same thing every year. It’s so…I don’t know…candy land.”


  1. This is nice in a way that there is the hint of loneliness that I can see could be quite beautiful.

    Yet, there is a disconnect for me, and I can't quite grasp what is going on. There is also a depressive quality to the opening that I think makes for a bit of a slow start.

  2. I like the fact that this isn't stale 3rd person writing, but I feel like this opening tried to make a suspenseful situation out of waking up, which in my mind, didn't work. At the end, we find out she doesn’t want to attend some kind of meeting, and if I knew what, depending on if it was interesting or not, I might continue reading. But I’m merely left with a description of a character who doesn’t really do anything. I’d cut to the important part here, as it seems you have the writing part down.

  3. I think the descriptions here are great. I love the 'blue canvas sky' and the sun like wild-fire. I do wish I had a little more info as to what she might be avoiding and why she isn't sleeping, but I would read further at this point to figure it out.

  4. I would have liked to have known what she was late for and why she didn't want to go. If you tell us, that sets the problem up right away and we know immediately what the story is about, and you still leave us with the question of why she thinks it's so candy land. Perhaps start a bit later than here, or just say what it is they're talking about.

  5. I agree with starting the story a bit later. I like how the beginning is written, it gives you a sense of the character but it doens't grab your attention enough for the opening. Maybe rearrange a few things so it starts with a little more action.

  6. I agree with the others. Let the reader know upfront why Alelaine didn't want to go to some candy land event? The descriptions are well written, yet I still don't know enough about who Alelaine is, only what she looks like.

  7. I like the description in thispac piece. I'm working with my middle school students on "word choice" right now, and I could probably use a few lines from here as great examples of sensory details.

    On the other hand, I was a little confused at the beginning. The setting is clearly on the beach, but then a brass band is mentioned. Is there a brass band playing at the beach? Are they the ones Reagan refers to in the line "They're starting"?

  8. I agree with the others that some of the descriptions are beautiful. Nicely done.

    But I also agree that I felt disconnected somehow and a bit confused. I don't mind not knowing what the candy-land event is. I would keep reading to find out, but I would have liked a stonger hook in the beginning. Maybe just clarify it a bit. Particularly when you get to the brass band. Where it is, it doesn't seem to fit. That's where I got lost.

    Overall, I think with some clarity, you'll be good to go. Thanks for sharing.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I want to know what candy land is and why Adelaine doesn't want to go there. I assume it's somewhere she's been before and doesn't want to return. Perhaps you could comment about her break in routine and mention what exactly candy land is a bit earlier? Overall, this felt like a bit of a slow start. I think your descriptions are great, but there may be slightly too much description and too little substance for the opening paragraphs of a novel. I would keep reading, but a few small changes could really tighten up the narrative.

  11. You might try starting with the line:
    "You were supposed to meet me twenty minutes ago"
    and then work in some of the description from the earlier paragraphs later. Just a thought!

  12. I agree with what some other people said. This is a beautiful passage, but it sounds like a passage - not a hook. If there is some other point of tension or something else that you can start on, it might lead to a better place.

  13. I like the emotional hook of the opening paragraph, which replaces a more story-oriented hook for me...I think you could cut some of the description once Reagan and Addie start talking, to make the dialogue move more swiftly, and "the spectacle around her" maybe needs to be made clearer to us, and faster, but this feels very smart and sensitively drawn to me...