Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #14

GENRE: YA Gothic Romance

The boy I caught lurking outside my bedroom window deserved a good beating, but Cam never knew when to quit. My brother’s head, as our dad used to tell Cam’s probation officer, was filled with missiles instead of brains—and it only took a tiny spark to launch WWIII. As his sister and keeper, only I knew how to work the controls.

Diving into the fray, I rammed Cam from the side and broke his stranglehold on the stranger. The creeper collapsed to the ground, choking and wheezing in the weeds. He was a scrawny guy about my age, seventeen, maybe nineteen at the most. Propped against the side of the barn, he looked as pathetic as a tattered scarecrow. Somehow he’d seemed scarier standing in my backyard, a dark prince cloaked in fog and shadow.

His name, we learned after Cam put him in a headlock, was Ben Wolcott.

“I don’t get you, Ava.” Cam scrubbed the sweat from his buzz cut. “You wanted me to talk to him and here I am—” He kicked Ben in the ribs. Ben groaned and hacked up a string of bloody spittle. “Talking.”

“Stop it!” I latched onto Cam’s brawny forearm and dragged him away from Ben. “He’s had enough, you idiot! Stop it!”

Cursing under his breath, Cam whirled around and booted a rusty wheelbarrow instead.

I slumped against the wooden fence and watched the fog swirl around the orchard of twisted apple trees.


  1. This opening does a nice job of setting up some interesting questions like who is Ben and why is he lurking around their house in the first place? I want to read more so I can learn the answers.

    I found the first paragraph a little confusing because I misread initially and thought the lurking boy might be Cam (might just be me). Also, I expect the narrator to start shooting off questions. Instead she slumps back and takes in the scenery. If I were her, I'd want to know more immediately, especially since her night has been so disturbed by this mystery boy.

  2. I like this. I already have a good handle on the personalities of Cam and the protagonist, the voice is great, and the mystery of why Ben was outside her window has me hooked. My only nitpick is the same as MPH2003's--why isn't she asking questions right off the bat?

  3. I also thought the lurker was Cam - I had to go back and re-read to get it.

    Otherwise it looks pretty good.

  4. Nice title and great voice.

    I, too, was a little confused with the first couple sentences. I think if you use "my brother" in the first sentence and use "Cam" in the second, you'd be fine.

    Other than that, you've started in a very interesting place and it has me intrigued.

    Good luck!

  5. I was also confused, I thought Cam was the lurker. And that confusion made it harder to get into the story. Once I figured out what was going on, I like your introduction of the characters. If that one little bit was cleared up, this would be a win. Even with the confusion, I want to read on.

  6. Nice opening. I got that Cam was not the lurker, no problem. It flows well and intrigues me to read more. I want to know why Ben was watching them, what's really up with Cam etc. Good luck!

  7. I agree with K, Carmen and Jane. I also thought Cam was the lurker. Then I read it again.

    You jump too quickly from the lurker, to Cam, then to your brother, and you also mention your dad and Cam's probation officer. There is too many characters being jammed into 2 sentence. I would pare that down.

    But other than that, it sounds pretty good. I remember this entry from Krista's agent inbox contest, and I'm impressed with how much it's improved! Well done!

  8. I didn't think Cam was the lurker, but the sentence still caused me to backtrack twice. The following sentence added to my confusion. Breaking up the thoughts into shorter sentences might help since you seem to be communicating quite a bit of character detail.

    "Diving into the fray" tripped me up; is this specifically descriptive or more of a saying? Can you just say "I rammed into Cam"?

    I remember seeing this opening elsewhere online and I think it's improved with more of an action scene. Best of luck in your editing.

  9. This story starts in the right place - with the action and the conflict. I really liked that.

    Be careful about the cliches: diving into the fray, cloaked in fog and shadow.

    I also didn't like that the MC slumped against a fence and started watching the fog as soon as the action was done. Paint the scene with a few choice setting descriptions sprinkled within the more active scenes and let the reader do the rest. You don't have to overdo the setting descriptions.

    I think this is headed in an interesting direction and I would read on.

  10. I like the way this story starts. (I didn't have the Cam-related confusion others describe.) There's a lot of important information conveyed in these paragraphs. And I'm curious about Ben, and why he was outside her window. I'd read more.