Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #25

TITLE: Crazy Deep
GENRE: YA Speculative Fiction

Marissa, I’ve a feeling we’re not in New Orleans anymore, I think, glancing out the window at the Pennsylvania mountains.

When Dad forced me to evacuate without him a week ago, I thought it would be temporary, that I’d fly back to him in a couple of days once the whole Hurricane Katrina threat passed. Now I live in Aunt Celeste’s guest room, my room, according to her. My real bedroom is filled with water, if it’s still there. Even a pair of ruby slippers can’t take me home again.

I follow the slap of flip flops to the front steps of a brick building that looks exactly like a school. Imagine that.

As I make my way up, I distract myself from panicking by singing “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” to myself. Or at least I think it’s to myself until someone behind me whistles the “We’re off to see the Wizard” part. I whip around and bump into a chest—a solid, male chest. I lift my eyes slowly, taking in the flipped-up cuffs, navy sweater vest, and this fantastic smile. Then I raise my eyes a little higher, and I’m caught in the most intense, blue stare. My heart trips and this invisible tug I can’t explain pulls me closer.

Before I totally embarrass myself, I step back.

The guy’s smile revs up a notch. “Sorry I interrupted your American Idol tryout.”


  1. Feels like we've got the makings of an adorable romance coming on here. Your voice feels distant, like we're listening to a retelling of the story instead of being there. The use of Hurricane Katrina and American Idol date your piece. (The American Idol line is hilarious BTW.) I would give both a fictional name.

    Start it when she meets the boy. You can weave the information about the hurricane in later.

  2. I like that you start with Katrina. Right away, I care about Marissa. She's a Katrina refuge, her bedroom is underwater and her life if probably never going to be the same.

    But I'm not very grounded in what's happening. She's looking out a window. A window to what? Then suddenly there's a change of setting and she's "following the slap of flip flops," walking up to a building that looks like a school. Whose flip flops? Why is she there? Is this her first day in a new school? Giving us more of these details will help us identify with her.

    Bumping into the blue eyed guy is intriguing and sets us up for what is to come.

    Some great elements that I think will work better if you clue us in to what's happening.

  3. I love how you establish character so quickly here! Marissa has a strong voice and I love that she loves The Wizard of Oz. I also adore the guy's dialogue about the American Idol tryout - I want to know what kind of chemistry he and Marissa have.

    Like Mary said, I was just a little confused about the blocking of the scene. Where is Marissa and where is she going? I thought she was at her aunt's house at first, but I wasn't completely sure. I think just a few more details here and there will clear that right up!

    I love your start! Good luck!

  4. Like this. Like the "my real bedroom is filled with water, if it's still there." Be careful you don't fall into cliches! But so far so good. :o) <3

  5. Like others have noted, it seems like a big jump between the looking out the window and the noise of flip flops as the MC approaches the school. But having said that, I love the tie-in to the Wizard of Oz: ruby slippers, going home again, the Yellow Brick Road. Good potential here :-)

  6. I like the weaving of the Wizard of Oz references throughout the opening 250. It is a nice unifying concept and of course the WofO is timeless. What is not timeless is references to Katrina or American Idol. Those could both become as stale as a bad muffin and maybe you shuld rethink them - unless you are truly going for a historical. But, if its just a matter of displacement then any old Hurricane can do and would not date your piece - likewise for American Idol. I liked the casual voice, the keen obervation and the details of the sound of flip-flops and how the boy is described kind of in pieces - a solid male chest, etc rather than as a kind of apparition who appears already whole. There is already the hint of a fun relationship between the two and the dialogue that it present sounds natural and fun. Like others, I did find the sudden switch from being in the car looking out the window to walking up the steps to be a bit jarring - mayeb there needs to be some kind of a----- what's the word???? - segue! yes, segue. But, nice feel and I would read more.

  7. Thanks, everyone. This proves the importance of revision! I deleted lines to fit the 250-word count and ended up deleting the section where Marissa slides out of the car. I am so glad I had this opportunity to participate in this contest so that I caught the error. Thanks to all of you for your helpful comments and to the Authoress for holding the contest.

  8. I had to read this twice to get the fact that the first line is a W of O reference (duh, i feel stupid). that said, I don't think it's your strongest line and it reads a little awkwardly unless you're expecting the reference. I would start with the second paragraph or better yet one of my favorite lines: "My real bedroom is filled with water, if it's still there." That line really drew me into the MC's problems. You could also insert your current opening line into another place.

    I liked the romantic interaction but have to tell you that I laughed when I read the sweater vest part. I only imagine old men wearing those - sorry if I offend anyone with that line. It certainly painted a picture for me of this guy - hopefully it would make up with later descriptions...very GQ metrosexual, right?

    I don't mind the Katrina and AMerican Idol references. I personally think references like that are ok as long as they are well known but what do I know I'm not an agent :)

    Good luck with this - I like it.

  9. I actually didn't care for the Wizard of Oz references--I feel like that's been over-done in popular culture, across the board. Also, and I hate to say this--given that we're talking about fiction, of course--but I'm hoping that if you're writing about Katrina, you are, in fact, from New Orleans. It'd be the first detail I (and many editors) would check, because there's a magnitude to the event that makes people practically require a writer's exposure to the event.