Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Secret Agent #8

TITLE: Distortion
GENRE: YA thriller

I coiled my hair into a loose bun and strained to get any breeze possible through the open window. With the A/C busted, the car felt like a freaking oven.

Mom lowered the shade against the glare of the blazing Arizona sun. After inspecting every mirror available for non-existent oncoming traffic, she eased the car into the two-lane street. "So, do you want to take another look at your new school?"

"Nope." Tomorrow was soon enough. Given half a chance, I'd be back in Detroit, starting tenth grade with my friends. Well, the remaining ones. Most of them had gone, leaving behind memories and foreclosed houses, just like us. Poor mom. She had loved our little ranch home. Now worry lines furrowed her once smooth forehead, and I'd swear that was white hair I could see among her auburn curls.

“Hey! What the—” Mom slammed the brakes. Considering she'd been doing twenty, all I felt was the slight tug of the seat belt.

I followed her wide-eyed gaze. An elderly woman stood in front of the car. Coils of silvery-gray hair escaped an orange, fringed scarf and tumbled over a thin, leathery brown face. A loose red tunic over a bright blue embroidered skirt completed her outfit. She must be the most colorful creature I'd seen in this dreary mining town.


  1. On your way...perhaps tighten up the old lady's description but your writing is punchy. nice one!

  2. I like this, but a few lines felt overdone, the last one especially. Either she was or wasn't the most colorful creature, not "she must be" and "dreary mining town" sounds cliche. But you have a great start, and I would read on.

    Good luck!

  3. This felt slightly over-written to me: loose bun, blazing sun, non-existent oncoming traffic, white hair, auburn curls, wide-eyed gaze, coils of silvery hair, orange, fringed scarf, thin, leathery brown face, dreary mining town.

    None of those alone or spaced out would be a problem, but so close together I feel like I'm getting more description than story.

    That said, having lived in Arizona and having moved four states away my Freshman year, I understand what this character is facing and I would probably read one more page to see where you're going with this.

    Good luck!

  4. Everything was fine until the last paragraph which I think was too densely packed with decription. It yanks you out of the scene considering that the immediate interest is that someone just walked in front of the car and was almost hit. There could be a paragraph in between just to focus the action on a resolution and then the description later. I think the best part of your 250 is a narrator who actually shows some compassion for her mother instead of the snarky, sarcastic woe-is-me we usually get. SO that alone was unique and refreshing. Also, I think leaving Detroit for a "dreary mining town" might be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire sort of thing so I think the logic behind that move needs to be explained quickly :)

  5. I think your vivid imagery and opening twists are getting bogged down in too much description. Every noun does not need an adjective. Still, I like the voice and were this in my slush, I'd keep reading.

  6. I think I've seen this opening before and I like this rewrite (totally ignore me if you've never been posted here and I just dreamed that other opening).

    I liked the voice and how observationally annoyed (without saying she's annoyed) the narrator is with how slow a driver her mother is.

    The last paragraph needs to be revamped--it's too much description dump that stalls the action, and it's edging on purplish prose.

    Btw, you've coiled hair twice in this one excerpt.

  7. I agree with other reviewers about the last paragraph -- way too many adjectives (10).

    But I like the set-up. Immediately wanted to know why most of her friends' families had gone (bad economy in auto industry?).

    I think you could add something in the first paragraph related to the mom's slow driving (it would affect how much breeze was actually generated!). Then, you wouldn't need the sentence beginning with 'Considering she'd...'

    I would keep reading because I want to know how the elderly woman figures into this!