Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Secret Agent #32

TITLE: Exhiled to Fear

No one believes me when I say the Nationals hire kids to spy on us. You know your classmate, the one the teacher favors?

A spy.

Maybe a killer.

Just ask my best friend whose body is rotting in a grave back in Arizona.

Here’s what I know so far.

It started a month ago, when Dianne said, “I changed my mind about how I’m going to die.”

I looked up from my new Equalreader. My best friend was sitting on the bed opposite mine. She was sleeping over—her mother’s night to work at the hospital—and she was doodling on her homework screen. Dianne was the nice sister I never had. My real sister resented my very existence and kept insisting I was adopted, so Dianne’s friendship kept me alive.

“Again?” I asked.

Dianne started this last year by betting me a million dollars she’d die in a shootout when she was 26. Since then, she’s changed her bet a dozen times. Her most recent version was dying in a scuba accident at age 19, during her honeymoon.

She looked up and wiped a tear. “I think something horrible is going to happen.”

“All your choices are horrible,” I pointed out, trying to reassure her. "Just pick something quick like a heart attack so we can finish our homework.”

“You think I choose how I’ll die? These are dreams. And this time it's Alex who kills me. In Tucson.”

It turned out she was wrong about the Tucson part.


  1. I was waffling between hooked and not hooked until we get to the part where Dianne becomes serious.


    Totally would read on!

  2. I like this. Really catching dialogue and a nice balance between narration and present action. The only line I'd cut would be the "ask my best friend" line, if only because I think it takes away the punch from "It turned out she was wrong about the Tucson part." Besides that, I really, really liked this. Best of luck!

  3. Really great opening with a cool concept, and the last sentence makes me wanna keep reading. :) Good luck!

  4. Winner! I loved this from the start. I'm a sucker for an intro that speaks directly to a reader.
    Is this contemporary or does it have a post-apocolyptic slant? (just wondering with the spying and all).

    My suggestion is to tighten the writing by losing the "was sitting" and "was sleeping" and change to more active "sat" and "planned to sleep over," etc. I have a huge tendency to write like this in my early drafts and spend a lot of time search + finding for use of was +ing verbs. It will quicken the pace for you and show more active voice.

    Great job, I really like this!

  5. Acutally, the tense of the first line is present but the rest seems to be past. So I would just make sure the verb tenses match up (again something I particularly have to pay attention to in my own writing so I'm acutely aware!)

  6. Hooked. Very hooked- the only bit I might change is the paragraph about Dianne. It goes on long enough that when the MC says "Again?" I had to go back to see what she was replying to.

    That paragraph describes her location in the room- and that's she's staying over-where her mom works and compares/contrasts her to the real sister. Maybe one of those facts could go or be put in elsewhere.

    But overall, I liked it, alot.

  7. I like this, the almost playful tone of the opening right down to the serious and (probably) devastating end.

    I would definitely read on.

  8. I was confused for a while, not knowing the genre, but that last line? I'd definitely read on!

  9. Excellent voice! Nothing like paranoid to start the day. :P

  10. I was starting to drift until I hit the last line. Now I really want to know what happens.

  11. Can I just say that I absolutely love this? I've read this at least five times now, and it catches me every time. The last sentence is killer (no pun intended). I'd love to read more of this!

  12. Love the voice and the dialogue is great. I'm totally hooked. :)

  13. Hooked. Very hooked.

    The tense shift in the first line doesn't even bother me. The two longest paragraphs where we get the backstory about the friendship and the bet, I'd parse them down, tighten and get rid of the passive voice to keep the pace high, driving to that last night. Great job.

  14. You have a strong voice in the beginning and then strong at the end but I lost interest in the middle. Maybe cut the long paragraph about how Dianne is her best friend?

    Great opening and great last line though.