Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #11

TITLE: Pathos
GENRE: YA Paranormal Mystery

The clock’s minute hand crawls toward three o’clock. Miss Lim finishes her introduction to Edgar Allan Poe while my classmates shift in their seats. Some of them are passing notes to each other.

An itch prickles the web of skin between my ring and pinky finger. Scratching it will mean taking off my gloves. I wish I could, but doing that would risk touching something I don't want to. Instead, I rub my fingers together, letting the seam of the glove do the work.

My eyes dart toward Max. The unattainable, incredibly cute Maximilian Yasahiro Lee. Even his name is sexy, an unusual Euro-Japanese-Chinese mix. His tall, lanky body looks too long for the desk. He bends over his notes, his straight black hair falling over his eyes. So freakin’ adorable.

I manage to tear my eyes away from Max and snuggle deeper into my fleece-lined hoodie. My gloved fingers burrow into my pockets. They brush against some things I almost completely forgot I had. There’s a half-empty bottle of Gas-X someone dropped in the cafeteria and a tube of Peppermint Pink Lip Shine I found yesterday outside my favorite coffee shop.

One of the things I like to do is return stuff people lose. Nothing special, really. It’s just something I do with my memory-gathering, or my “curse”, as my aunt likes to call my psychic ability. It gives me an excuse to remove my gloves now and then. As long as I’m careful, of course.


  1. I really like the idea of the MC using her powers to return lost things. And I loved the description of Max.

  2. I feel like the main issue with this piece is that it's not starting in the right place. I like the idea of the psychic memory-gathering ability and am curious as to how it works, but at the moment I don't want to read on because nothing is really happening in these first 250 words. Starting off with the mention of a clock and classmates being introduced to Edgar Allen Poe is kind of boring (sorry to say), and most of these 250 words are backstory and explanation. If I were you, I'd start this in a more tense situation with some action and a goal (even if just immediate) for the protag, etc. Right off the bat get the story kicking and layer in the info you have here in snippets as you go. Good luck with it!

  3. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t keep reading.

    Two things are stopping me. 1) The opening drags and I almost stopped reading after the first paragraph. 2) I’ve already read this story. It’s the Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep.

    What really got to me was that there was not action in the entire opening. You get to her psychic ability at the end, but you’re only telling. You don’t show us her using it, which would have been a lot better.

    Too much showing and not enough doing. Bring us to where the action is and start there. Also show us why this is different from Mythos Academy.

  4. While I appreciate the other comments, I like a little back-story in the first 250 words of a story.

    IMHO, something did happen when she touched the lost items - I felt surprised when I learned about MC's ability by her touching those items.

    Yes, I'd like to read more.

  5. Like @Chris V said, maybe this isn't starting in the right place. The kid in the classroom opener is a tough sell as it feels more like a set up to the more interesting part. Show us the interesting part!

    After reading the secret agent contest entries for the past few months, the opening lines have to really show something to catch interest. There are so many stories out there and hundreds of them querying every day, I would hate to see your story get lost in the shuffle because the action doesn't start until page 2.

    While you have all the elements to establish setting, see what you can do to bring this to life. Best of luck :)

  6. I'm intrigued! Think about switching paragraphs one and two, so your story starts here:

    An itch prickles the web of skin between my ring and pinky finger. Scratching it will mean taking off my gloves...

    The clock’s minute hand...

    Best wishes!

  7. I agree with the others that you should consider cutting out some of the telling/backstory to get to the action faster. Maybe save the description of Max for another page. I also think switching the first and second paragraphs would help.

  8. I find the writing has a nice flow to it and that the premise itself is very promising. I am not sure why sratching anything means taking off your gloves - it would be very easy to scratch through the surface of the glove without taking it off. I am not sure why she knows all three names of Max Y Lee and how you get a three race mix. Two would be enough I think at this point. But a strong beginning I think. I like to settle into a story. I disagree with everyone who wants to make sure your entire first 250 vomits forth the entire story. I appreciate set up myself.

  9. I agree with the others. This isn't the right place to tell the story. Nothing is happening and right now it sounds just like Mythos Academy. Even your title, Pathos, sounds sort of like Mythos.

    I would recommend not only finding some action to start with, but action that will help set you apart from the Mythos Academy books.

  10. I liked skywriter's suggestion. I'd keep reading! Just some cut and paste. Interesting premise. Good luck.

  11. You have an interesting premise and your writing is solid. However, I think you've started in the wrong place. Take it out of the classroom setting and make the set up when something changes for your MC.

  12. I would keep reading because the writing is so strong and I like the premise. One SMALL thing - the comma after "curse" should come before the quotation marks - not after. :)

  13. No, nothing here intrigues me enough to make me turn the page.

  14. I do like the mood you set in this beginning. I find Max and the mc's power interesting. I'd read on.

  15. I like the character. I like her attention to what matters to her and I would keep reading.

    I do wonder what will happen in this class as the first taste we get of the MC's abilities. I think I am beginning to wonder what will be lost and returned in this classroom. And others have pointed out how much like another book this beginning is. So, is there an inciting incident in this classroom that will set the stage for this MC's overall arc and the story? Or should the story begin elsewhere?

    Either way, how can you make sure that scene is as close to the beginning as possible?

  16. Hi Secret Agent!

    The inciting incident does come within the next 300 words that will set the stage for my MC's character growth, motivation and action throughout the rest of the story. I can certainly bring the inciting incident closer to the beginning and show what she can do with her power.

    As to the similarity to another book, while the power of my MC is somewhat similar, my story is very different.:) I suppose I have to make sure this is more apparent in the first 250 words, lol!

    Thanks everyone for your comments! :)

    SA Enrty #11