Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #31

TITLE: Inside the Circle
GENRE: YA Contemporary

It’s freezing in the Center like always, and I can’t wait to get out of Allison’s room. Her doctor is ready to see her, so I say see you next Friday and walk into the wide hallway. It was tough to talk to her today. The doctors have her really drugged up on anti-depressants, which is ironic, considering that overdose is the reason why she’s here.

What happened to Allison is scary, but it happens. People lose control and go too far. They fall into the darkness. For Allison, it was heroin, but it wasn’t a slow decline. That’s why everyone is so freaked out. People who use hard stuff like H figure they’ll get a warning, a heads-up when they get close to the place where they might not come back. Not this time. Allison snorted H for the first time about a year ago. When she started shooting, it took everything in me to keep my mouth shut. No judgments, that’s the rule with my friends. I wasn’t going to help her get high, though. I don’t do that shit anymore.

Around Christmas, Allison went to a party, shot too much, and turned blue. I guess it’s been about three months now. Instead of calling 911, these ignorant, drunk bitches threw her in the tub so she wouldn’t throw up on the marble bathroom floor. Luckily, some sophomore saw her in there, and he found a way to get her to the hospital. She’s lucky to be alive.


  1. This really draws the reader in. I would explain what H right away. When I first read it I thought it was a typo. Adding the sophomore in the last paragraph made me wonder their ages and that makes me want to read more!

  2. Well written - I can definitely see this getting people to read further, but I'm afraid I'm not one of them.

    It has nothing to do with your writing style or skill - I just don't really like your MC. A friend of his (the voice sounds more masculine to me - if I'm mistaken, forgive me) has been shooting up heroin for 9 MONTHS and he deliberately never told anyone about it. Especially given that he knows from first-hand experience how terrible heroin is, this seems unloving and cruel. I just don't buy the "no judgments" reason for not getting your friend help.

    Also, as I am assuming it's a man speaking, I was turned away by him using the phrase "ignorant, drunk b******" in general, but more specifically as he is condemning them for doing nothing to help save his friend. Um, hello? Pot - kettle much?

    Sorry if all that came off a bit harsh (personal experience is talking through my comment here), but, again, while I think your opening is well-crafted and interesting, I personally don't feel connected to or sympathetic toward your MC and would probably stop reading. Sorry :-(

  3. Is the mc male or female?

    I like the premise, but think you can tighten it up some. I would start with "I can't wait to get out of Allison's room." The beginning of the sentence pulled me out of the story.

    In the second time I was a bit confused by the bit about her snorting H for the first time about a year ago and then fast forwarding to her shooting up. I would combine these two thoughts into one sentence to make it a bit clearer. EX: Allison started snorting H about a year ago, but progressed to shooting up quickly. I kept my mouth shut....

    I would for sure read on it sounds like a great contemporary story.

  4. Intriguing, but too much telling, IMHO. I'd like to be taken back to the moment of some of that drama. IT would pull me in more and give me a better feeling of the culture, the world.

  5. I agree with Donna. My mind started to drift as I read the 2nd paragraph. Is there a way to bring some action into these opening paragraphs?

  6. It might be better to go into how she looks, how H screwed with her looks, and how she looks now while in recovery.

    I don't like the MC not telling, but it wouldn't stop me from reading on.

  7. I think maybe there's just a bit too much information in this first section. It feels like we've already heard a whole story and we've barely begun. Maybe say less right away so that the reader has motivation to keep reading

  8. I think your writing is smooth, but the storytelling is giving too much away too soon. There's nothing to make me read on, wondering what's going to happen next.
    Also, I didn't hear your character's "voice" until the line "No judgments, that's the rule."
    I'd like something like that straight away.

  9. This beginning gives us a bunch of back story, which is why the others have said there's a lot of telling instead of showing.

    Try rewriting the opening so that we are in the hospital room with the narrator and Allison. What do we see? What do we hear? Ground us in the setting, so we can experience this journey with the narrator. Then weave details of the back story into the action of the story.

  10. The anger the narrator feels for the girls who threw Allison in the bathtub seemed to lit a flame in the coldness of narrator's tone. Makes me wonder if he or she is going to do something to them.

    This seems like a promising, dark and gritty story. But maybe scatter the info in the second paragraph in the later parts of the story to make it more effective.

  11. Too much telling and not enough happening here (especially the whole, lone second paragraph) - and for this, I don't think present tense works.

    What if you started with the third paragraph?

  12. I like the suggestion to start with: "I can't wait to get out of Allison's room." Then new paragraph with what follows.

    Since this is all about Allison and barely much to grab onto about the narrator (I assume the narrator is the focus of the story and not Allison; we are seeing Allison through the eyes of the narrator) I think there is plenty of opportunity to weave in elements of your main character/narrator within the description of Allison:

    You said: "What happened to Allison is scary. People lose control..." You could insert something about the character -- "I'd never lost control like that, but for Allison..."

    I think you can mix the immediate situation with backstory with some effort and skill; you might want to clarify who the main character is (someone other than Allison) and what the immediate setting is, then weave in the backstory. It sounds like you have plenty to work with, best wishes!

  13. i second what stepsco said, but i would read more for sure. i think it's an important story to tell. good luck with it.

  14. This is well written, but it starts off with a bunch of back story. It also starts with a bunch of back story for a character who's not your MC, and so after 250 words I know a lot more about Allison than I do about your MC. As a result, I'm not grounded with your MC and I don't necessarily care about him/her.
    So while I think the back story is generally interesting, I don't think it's the right thing to start with. I want to know and connect with your MC, not with Allison, and I would prefer to connect with what's actually happening to them right now--not what happened to them before the start of your story.

    Overall, this is well done and it flows wonderfully, but it's too boggled down in back story for me to really connect with the story.

  15. I had a hard time relating to the MC because the instant he/she said he kept his mouth shut and said/did nothing for 9 months when someone is strung out on HEROIN just gave me a WTF moment. I couldn't or wouldn't want to read on with him as my guide.

  16. That's not irony-- you've used ironic incorrectly. But don't feel bad, everyone does. The writing could use some refining. Drug stories are always popular. One main issue... I hate the MC. If my best friend was doing heroin, I'd do everything in my power to help her. I know you can't stop a person, but the no judgement rule has it's limits. So, already in the first few paragraphs, we have a mc that is totally unlikable. Just food for thought.