Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Secret Agent #5

TITLE: Touching Darkness
GENRE: YA Paranormal Mystery

I should have kept my mouth shut. I should have sat in my chair, ducked my head, and ignored the fact that Kyle Ramsey was being a complete a** for no reason…again. But there was something in the look on Shane’s face; fear was part of it, but there was more. Impotent rage. That feeling that no matter how mad Shane got, he would never be able to retaliate. The same emotion boiled in me every time a classmate deigned to acknowledge my presence with a nasty comment or a well-placed elbow when no teachers were watching. Being the timid little Ally they believed me to be, I’d bite my tongue and walk off. Shane obviously agreed that cowering in the shadows was better than bleeding in the spotlight, but the smug satisfaction in Kyle’s eyes pierced something inside me. The world shifted on its axis and I was on my feet before I knew what happened.

So there I stood, staring up at the face of every bully I’d ever known, asking God what the hell I was doing.

“What did you say?”

Sweat erupted from my pores, but it was too late to walk away. I’d awoken the beast and there was nothing to do now but stand my ground.

“Why can’t you just leave people the hell alone?” I repeated, voice louder if not steadier than the first time I’d said it. The class gasped in unison. My heart threatened to explode, but the words continued to spew.


  1. Great start but more editing needed, I like this characters voice but want it to feel it more.

    Asking god what the hell I was doing-reads a little clunky

    Reduce words, polish and you're on your way!

  2. I like this, but I'd like to see more action/dialogue at the beginning instead of the long introspective paragraph. Good luck!

  3. Agree with above, bit loose, but I'm intrigued. I love an unplanned hero. ;) Best of luck to you.

  4. Strong beginning sentences.

    I'd recommend splitting the first paragraph to give "Impotent rage." a bit more oomph.

    I'd be interested to see where this was going, though I'm not completely hooked yet. Hopefully, the paranormal aspect will come clear within the first couple of pages.

  5. I don't understand why you wrote "a**" instead of "ass." It's going to appear as "ass" in your book.

    This would be a form rejection for me because your opening is a lot of sound and fury that ultimately signifies nothing (though to be fair, it may very well signify something I just haven't seen yet because it appears on the next page). There's a lot of violence in your language, and I don't shy away from that, but here, because I haven't seen what the big deal is, it seems like too many OTT descriptors ("bleeding in the spotlight" "words continued to spew") for an event we have yet to see. Once you've shown us what the big deal is, why this statement is something that makes the classroom gasp, that is when I think you could really get some punch out of those descriptors.

    1. Actually, I think the ass part is Authoress. She censors for her younger blog readers.

  6. The first part is a little thick with introspection and (unspecific) backstory and light on action in what should be a tense, active scene.

    The language has led me to believe that Ally pretends to be weak but isn't, and that she's frustrated she has to take crap from bullies because she knows reacting will "unleash the beast." (Which I think is a cool idea, btw.) I'm assuming that's the paranormal element, but I'm not sure because either it's misleading or it's not quite clear enough...

    Adding more paranormal elements to this would make me more interested. If there aren't any actual paranormal elements in this scene, then I'm not sure I buy it.

    I've actually seen the "bullied kid stands up to bully for bullying someone else" scene as a pretty common starting point in YA and MG recently, but the reasoning (finally snaps because of suppresed anger) never seems real enough to me. I don't know. It takes a lot for pervasively bullied kids to stand up for themselves, so it seems like a big hurdle is getting jumped right at the beginning just so the opening is dramatic.

  7. I would have liked the scene to be played out, to put me in the moment. That way, I would understand what was at stake. The first line of dialogue would benefit from a dialgue tag.

  8. I like this opening. You can really feel her anger pushing her. Having read what the other commenters have said, I can see where they are headed. Perhaps starting with the actual confrontation, and maybe building to the outpouring of rage?

    I love the line about cowering in the shadows versus bleeding in the spotlight.

    The class gasping would make more sense if the MC's outburst were sudden, instead of a repeated phrase. The first line of dialogue needs Kyle's tag to indicate him as the speaker.

  9. I'm rooting for you, and agree with the suggestions about breaking up the first paragraph with more action so we see what she is so emotional about.

    "sweat erupting from pores" felt unecessary to me as sweat seeps rather than violently shoots out of a pore (haha) but I do get that the sentiment matches the hostile emotions of the character.

    I know I do this in my own work, but I would rework Kyle "was being" to "acted like" or something with a more active tone.

    I wish you well!

  10. The first two sentences were great. Then the rest of the paragraph didn't deliver.