Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #25

TITLE: Shot in the Dark
GENRE: YA suspense

Large snowflakes stick to my windshield and paint the world in an eerie shade of calmness. I can do this. Tomorrow’s my first day back at school after two weeks of hiding. All I need to do is survive my morning meeting with the grief counselor then I’m good to go. And really, how hard can that be? I’m not talking about performing a series of acrobatics on the balance beam at the State Championships. I just have to nod and pretend I’m listening.

I turn onto my street. The flashing of blue and red lights, filling up the night sky, instantly haunts me. Even with the hot air blasting from the heater, icy fingers trace over my body, turning me cold. My false sense of confidence vanishes.

Oh, God! Not again.

A cop car sits in front of my house. The street is a mess of spectators wanting to know what happened this time. Even the cold weather isn’t enough to keep them at home, keep them from prying into my family’s secrets.

Willing the tears to stay away, I park my car. No sooner than the engine’s turned off, I jump out of the car and sprint past the whispering crowd to where Mom and Dad are standing on our lawn. I don’t see Nate. Oh, God. Where is he?

Mom catches me in her arms and hugs me tight against her trembling body.

“What’s going on?” My breath comes out as rapid white puffs. “Where’s Nate?”

15 comments:

Nicole said...

Great job of jumping right into the suspense. I'd definitely keep reading.

I don't love the line about the balance beam -- it seems a bit forced.

Carmen said...

I really like the buildup here.

I want to read more and find out what happens with Nate!

Kerri. said...

This opening does a nice job of building suspense. I have to agree with the first commenter regarding this sentence --> "I’m not talking about performing a series of acrobatics on the balance beam at the State Championships." It's good, it just feels like this is the wrong place for it to be introduced.

Other than that tiny nitpick I'd certainly keep reading. Good luck!

Nicole Zoltack said...

What a place to leave off! I would definitely keep reading.

The same sentence tripped me up too. Maybe a slight reword would help - something like It'll be a lot easier than performing a series of acrobatics on the balance beam at the State Championships. Something like that so it's more tied in rather than a slightly awkward info dump.

KyCactus said...

To echo the voices above, I felt in the groove of this girl's moment. She seems like a troubled girl, who will return to school with a lot of whispers and smirks and pompous condescension. I imagine she is wrestling with a lot of things. If she is not really a gymnast or a cheerleader, I would avoid the whole analogy to the balance beam.

This has an atmosphere os suspense, so I'm glad to see that matches the listed genre. Good job and good luck.

Robbin said...

Nice job building suspense. Flows well and I'm already rooting for the MC. Would like to know her name. I'm assuming she's a girl from the balance beam reference. Good luck.

Carolyn said...

Love the snowflakes, and eerie, but calmness isn't spooky, maybe danger instead?

Need at least a hint of why she's hiding. And maybe something to make me like her.
Like the hints that this isn't the first time. Adds tension.

Took me out of the story to see Mom and Dad on the lawn. Wouldn't they be hiding too?

I like the idea, just need a bit more info and maybe a bit more description of people and where we are.

Stephsco said...

Great pacing, very intriguing. My only super nitpicky suggestion is to not have the character think "oh God" twice. The second time can be removed and it still feels urgent.

Nice work!

ellisshuman said...

This definitely throws the reader straight into the building suspense.

My suggestion is in this sentence:

"Willing the tears to stay away, I park my car. No sooner than the engine’s turned off, I jump out of the car and sprint past the whispering crowd..."

I don't think you need to use the word 'car' the second time. It would be sufficient to write "I jump out and sprint..."

Good work!

Joy said...

I don't know why, but I'm not feeling much for the protagonist until you start building the suspense with the flashing lights. The very beginning does not grab me. After the first paragraph, I'm intrigued, though and would want to keep reading. Nice job.

Shannon said...

I don't have a lot to add to the above comments, other than I'm hooked! I need to know where Nate is! And I don't even know Nate. Great job :)

Bron said...

I really liked this, except for the first paragraph. There's nothing wrong with it as such, except the appointment with the grief counsellor and returning to school isn't as much of a hook as what's happening in the here and now. I'd make the first sentence, "Large snowflakes stick to my windshield and paint the world in an eerie shade of calmness as I turn onto my street.' and go from there. The 'Not again' thought tells us that the MC has already been through something very traumatic. Great job.

Secret Agent said...

Very nicely done, and I particularly like the observation about the cold not keeping the nosy neighbors away...a "false sense of confidence" vanishing seems like a non-observation to me, and the "hot air blasting" and "icy fingers" in the same sentence reads a bit melodramatically to me, but it's still a well drawn scene...

Lindsay said...

There have already been some wonderful comments, but I wanted to add that I love the suspense in this excerpt. Great work. ;)

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Love this! I'm pulled in right away and want to know what's happening. Great job!