Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #6

TITLE: Angelhood
GENRE: YA Supernatural

Finding the gun is easy. Mom’s never tried to hide it from me or Cecille. As soon as Dad moved out three years ago, she bought it for our “protection.”

In her bedroom, I slide open the top dresser drawer and pull out the pewter angel key ring that holds an old skeleton key. At the foot of Mom’s bed, I kneel in front of Grandma’s old cedar chest. I run my fingers over the rose design that disguises the keyhole. After slipping the skeleton key in, I turn it and listen for the click. It’s easy to hear in the empty house.

The heavy lid creaks as I open it, and a faint cedar scent greets me. Mom told me when I was little that cedar chests were supposed to hold a woman’s most treasured items before and after she married—lace tablecloths, fine linens, dresses, photos. We don’t have much of that. Instead, Mom has filled Grandma’s old cedar chest mostly with junk. Inside are Cecille’s and my old report cards and baby books, a lock of chestnut hair from my first haircut, the First Communion dress both Cecille and I wore, and our baptismal candles. I dig deeper. Somewhere in this chest is a shoebox. And in that shoebox is a .38 snub-nosed revolver wrapped in a kitchen towel.

14 comments:

CB said...

This is beautiful! Great job. My only suggestion is that you use the word easy too many times in the first 250 words!
Great!

Betsy said...

I want to read on, right now! Love it! Only suggestion I have is, although the pewter angel key ring image is great, the wording is clunky. Probably a result of trying to fit it inside the word count, though. I'd wish you good luck, but I don't think you'll need it!

Barbara said...

I'd read more. You've given me an idea of who these people are by the way they live and the things they consider treasures, and I want to know why she needs that gun.

You might drop 'pewter' when describing the key ring. It reads awkward because there's one adjective too many, I think.

SGF said...

Love the first paragraph! Opening with finding the gun hooked me, and you convey so much about the MC's family and situation in those opening sentences. I felt like paragraph two could maybe be tightened/streamlined a bit. Maybe a little too much detail? But I love the third paragraph. The image of the cedar trunk filled with childhood relics--and a gun--is so vivid and intriguing. Beautifully done.

magmonkey34 said...

This is good, it moves right along. I did wonder at the first paragraph, how can she find something that's not hidden? I would almost consider starting with the third sentence. And maybe the key ring is hooked to the skeleton key, instead of holding it. You have talent! Thanks for sharing.

Joy said...

I really like this entry. It's descriptive without being overly done, the writing is tight, and there's just the right amount of tension. I would defintitely read on.

The only sentence that snagged me was:

"Instead, Mom has filled Grandma’s old cedar chest mostly with junk"

It felt awkward. Otherwise, its wonderful. Give me more.

KyCactus said...

This is a clever way to introduce the character while also introducing the family and the looming threat of the cheap gun. Vert smart.

I can't yet picture or imagine the narrator, but I do get to see a lot of her family and the situation, which is worth a lot.

The only time I stumbled while reading was this part: "Inside are Cecille’s and my old report cards..." The 'Cecille's and my' felt kind of clunky. Also, I don't know the narrator's name, but I've heard Cecille three times.

However, you are quite clever with the mystery of the gun, which happens to be under just a little bit of colorful backstory. Good work.

Rose Green said...

I like how you've combined action with a sense of character, as well as setting in this one. I also like how I feel grounded from the first paragraph--they're not easy to pull off!

Crystal Licata said...

Great opening! I am left wondering what her plan is for the gun and why is it wrapped in a dish towel. LOL! I agree with maybe cutting some of the adjectives out so it flows better.

librarygiraffe said...

Fantastic first line! It hooked me right away. I want to know where this is going - what the narrator is going to do with the gun - especially since the genre is supernatural. There were one or two cases of slightly awkward wording ("a faint cedar scent greets me" and "the pewter angel key ring that holds an old skeleton key"). Perhaps it was intentional, but I found it slightly odd that even though she knows where the gun is, she's still having to dig in the trunk and look for it. Overall - great job. I want to read more!

R.A.Desilets said...

CB and librarygiraffe already took what I was going to say ;)

You have a good piece overall, very lyrical but still captivating. Nice first 250!

Layla Messner said...

I really enjoyed this, am intrigued, and want to know more. I wonder if it might work a little better, though, to not give up the gun in the first sentence (because if you do that you've already given the most exciting thing, and then the next two paragraphs are at lower tension.) What do you think of something more like this? (I'm adding in a couple line-edits, too, most of which others have mentioned):

"I slide open Mom's top dresser drawer and pull out the pewter ring that holds the old skeleton key. At the foot of Mom’s bed, I kneel in front of Grandma’s old cedar chest. I run my fingers over the rose design that disguises the keyhole. After slipping in the skeleton key, I turn it and listen for the click. It’s easy to hear in the empty house.

The heavy lid creaks as I open it, and a faint cedar scent greets me. Mom told me when I was little that cedar chests were supposed to hold a woman’s most treasured items—lace tablecloths, fine linens, dresses, photos. We don’t have much of that. Instead, Mom has filled Grandma’s old cedar chest with Cecille’s and my old report cards and baby books, a lock of chestnut hair from my first haircut, the First Communion dress both Cecille and I wore, and our baptismal candles. I dig deeper. Somewhere in this chest is a shoebox. And in that shoebox is a .38 snub-nosed revolver wrapped in a kitchen towel."


You could also add in some physical signs of what she's feeling, so our heart rates are already picking up in anticipation.

Just my two sense :).
Good job and good luck!

RedCard10 said...

Wonderful opening. You've done a solid job providing us with background on this family while also setting up a compelling moment (child going for a revolver). I want to know why and would read on. As is, I don't think you need the opening paragraph (too much exposition). I think Layla's suggestions/edits are spot on. Let the fact that she is going for a gun be revealed and not told to the reader.

Secret Agent said...

The rifling through the cedar chest is executed extremely well...nice descriptions that aren't spending too much or too little time on the details, and it all leads up to the .38 special at a comfortable pace. My only concern, and others had mentioned this, too, is that the opening paragraph (or at least the "finding the gun is easy" part) is a bit meddlesome...maybe just "Finding it is easy."?