Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Secret Agent #26

TITLE: The Edge of Seventeen
GENRE: Contemporary YA

Someone once told me that most girls end up choosing a guy exactly like their father. Scientists have actually studied this. It’s called sexual imprinting.


Apparently it’s evolution’s way of helping us pick a compatible mate. If it’s true, then my future is bleak. Because my dad? He’s the guy standing by the fence, licking BBQ sauce off his fingers and laughing a little too enthusiastically at something a lady in a sparkly pink halter top is saying.

And I’m pretty sure he just snuck a peek at her boobs. Gross.

I’m not the only one who has noticed, either. My mom has been giving him the evil eye all afternoon. Any normal person would have turned to stone already, but he’s obviously developed some kind of immunity to her death stare.

Either that or he just doesn’t care.

“I could not be more bored.” Taren picks a blade of grass and twirls it in her fingers. Her hair is as light as the sun and twisted into dreadlocks that brush the top of her collarbone.

“There are worse things than being bored,” Gus drawls. He’s lying on his back, baseball cap pulled over his face.

Taren rolls her eyes. “Like what?”

“Global warming, homelessness, the war in Afghanistan…”

“Here we go.” She elbows me in the ribs.

Gus sits up and trains his dark eyes on her. “Are you at all interested in what’s happening in the world?”

Taren smiles sweetly at him. “Not really.”


  1. I loved the beginning. How this girl describes her father is funny and interesting. My favorite line is, "Any normal person would have turned to stone already." I LOL'd...but then the second part felt like a completely different story. Who is Taren? Who is Gus? How did they get there with her parents? And why are they talking about global warming? I'm confused. Perhaps have your MC say something to her friends about her dad to tie the two pieces together. Introduce them to us. And keep up with the voice at the beginning. Very funny.

  2. To me, you have nailed the teenage voice in this piece. I absolutely loved it. Although this is a very short excerpt, I already get the sense that these are characters I will be able to relate to. You've also set the stage for conflict with the MC's dad noticing a woman who is not the MC's mom. I'm interested and would definitely read on!

  3. Hooked! Love the voice and the unique characters. I liked this girl immediately when she mentioned the study on sexual imprinting. But maybe she could say 'I read something once' or mention she heard about it in health class instead of saying 'someone once told me' because she makes it seem like she's read an article about it instead of just hearing about it in passing.

  4. I don't read too much in the way of contemporary, but I love the voice and am totally hooked on this. I hope to see more!

  5. I was little worried about where you were going to go with the dad thing, but it was cute and this has a great voice.

    Good luck!

  6. Very funny. Great voice. I loved the first part, about the dad.

  7. I agree with the first poster. I read the first few lines in my blog reader and was intrigued enough to click through - the dad description is priceless and perfect, but I an not all sure who the two people are talking in the second part. It felt abrupt, like a transition was needed. But that voice is awesome!

  8. Nice voice and flow. Several characters and you pulled it off without confusing the reader. This is clean writing in my opinion - the perfect balance of details without blatant and never ending adjectives.

    The are three friends or aquaintances at barbecue - no confusion for me.

    Reel me in because this gal is hooked ;).

  9. This starts really strong. I love the not-quite-contempt she views her father with, ackowledging her bleak future. Its quirky and humorous. But the second half with all the boredom talk and world problems loses me. The voice shifts, the pace drops to a crawl. Perhaps a smoother and realted transition from the parental commentary to the bordom would alleviate it.

  10. I really loved the beginning -- you really nail the teenage voice, and with just a few paragraphs tell me a LOT about the MC and her family dynamic. But then I got a bit lost once you hit the dialogue and the characters -- I'm not sure who they are, or why they are interesting.

    And personally, the tense threw me. I would do first person past tense instead of first person present. I think it's something about the broader navel-gazing in the first paragraphs that begs for past tense, IMO.

  11. I didn't like the first few lines of this. It was too wordy. When I got to "Because me dad?" I did a complete reversal and was hooked... but then everything started lagging again when Taren starts talking.

    I liked the voice and the prose for the most part. I think you could do a lot of tightening, shorten your sentences, make things pop a little more. For example, I thik I didn't like the first line because there are too many clauses before you get to the relevant information, which is "girls end up choosing a guy exactly like their father." I'd just start there. Follow with. "It's called sexual imprinting. Scientists have studied it."

    I'm not completely sure why a random lady in a halter has been at their barbeque all day...

    The three kids talking doesn't really do anything for me. Typically, when the characters are bored, so am I.

  12. The problem with this opening is that it shows me something about everyone on screen except the narrator. Also, characters who are bored on the page are also boring to the reader. If this were in my slush pile, I'd give it 5 pages to pick up. Contemporary often doesn't start out with a bang, and I'd be willing to take a (small) chance.

  13. I liked this with the exception of not knowing who Taren and Gus are. A simple tag "my friend" or "my brother" would help clarify.