Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #37

TITLE: Shot in the Dark
GENRE: YA contemporary with mystery and romance

Biology is supposed to be the study of life, yet everything I see screams death death death. I’m freaking surrounded by it.

The pickled animal organs on the shelves along the back wall. The organs Travis claimed the football coach dissected from members of the team, after they screwed up their big chance of making it to the playoffs last year. The skeleton hanging in the back corner, its jaw slack in a sickening grin, as if sharing a private joke that’s lost on me.

My twin brother’s empty desk chair.

My fingers tingle from the same numbness that’s inhabited my body for the past two weeks. A hollow stillness spreads through me, like the finally moments before a tsunami. When the water pulls back—leaving the beach painfully empty—seconds before the world crashes in.

I’m still waiting for that singular moment, when everything inside of me caves and I’m carried away, to be drowned in the ocean.

Where the hell is Liv? My first day back was bad enough, starting with the fun-filled hour with the grief counselor this morning, but being here without my best friend to distract me is asking way too much.

All I want is to escape before I finally fall apart. If I cry at school, no way in hell will Mom let me skip out on another agonizingly boring hour with the shrink. I just have to survive the next sixty minutes.

Only I can’t do that without Liv.


  1. Wow. This gripped me. I am definitely hooked.

    I would cut the line "My fingers tingle...for the past two weeks." I couldn't figure out how numbness (complete lack of feeling) could tingle (which is a feeling), and the tsunami image is stronger. (However, it should read "final moments," not "finally moments.")

    I'm also not quite sold on the line "I'm still the ocean." It feels overwritten to me, which blunts the impact. I think "I'm still waiting for the crash." would be more powerful.

    That said, I loved this!

  2. I generally agree with Sara. The Tsunami imagery is quite forceful and and interesting. But you still have a fair degree of subtlety in the writing.

    The way you brought in the skeleton is interesting. It worked fairly well in how he could be interpreting the world without saying it directly.

    I could see myself reading into this further.

  3. This entry kept me riveted! I'd read on to find out how she lost her twin and to see why Liv isn't showing up. I loved the imagery. GREAT JOB!

  4. omg. Another--I love this voice, love the imagery! Like this one a lot. <3

  5. Really great voice! I'm hooked and totally want to read more. Great job and good luck!

  6. I loved this entry! I teach biology so of course I loved the opening and the mention of all the pickled parts :)

    The voice is great, the tsunami imagery is wonderful. The only place where I got tripped up is the paragraph that starts "WHere the hell is Liv?" I was so caught up in her pain that it made me stumble a bit.

  7. I would agree with the general consensus. My only nitpick is that the repitition of the word "death" in the first sentence seemed to disrupt the flow of the piece. Other than that, great job!

  8. First 2 sentences are amazing. Great voice, great hook.

    The 2nd paragraph is a bit too wordy. Especially this sentence "The organs Travis claimed the football coach dissected from members of the team, after they screwed up their big chance of making it to the playoffs last year."

    I'm not sure about the section describing grief. I get what you're trying to do, but I think it maybe too flowery, and too much telling for me to get inside your MC's head.

    That being said, I still really like this. Way to suck your reader in! Well done.

  9. Very good, totally gripping. I really feel for the MC. I don't have much to say, except you introduce the tragedy of her situation at just the right pace.

  10. Wow, I am fully hooked. I was not expecting that line about her twin bother. Very effective.
    You have gotten some great advice here, and I agree with it all.

  11. I'm hooked. You do a great job of showing the MC's grief and providing the reason without any info-dump.

  12. This is really well done. Good voice, character, conflict. I don't read a lot of contemporary, but I would keep reading this.

  13. I like the lost twin's empty desk and the imagery of the hostile ocean. Nice voice too.

  14. There is a mistake in the writing where it says "like the finally moments before a tsunami." You want 'final' obviously. The 3 sentences in Paragraph 2 have grammatical construction problems but easily corrected. The tsunami reference is effective and unique but I wonder if it will come to play a part in the story? (water?) Maybe it already has? As it is, not many people would be able to personally relate to what the moments before a tsunami was like so it may be too particular to be felt by the reader. I get that there is grief - terrible grief - in the MC but I am not sure if it is because of a twin brother or Liv? It's an interesting opening and if it is cleaned up I might read on a bit. Is your main character a boy or a girl?

  15. There's a lot here that hooked me: the writing, tsunami metaphor, the dead twin, and perhaps a missing best friend? I'd find another word or the fifth paragraph to replace 'caves,' so that it's kept consistent with the tsunami metaphor, but other than that, well, there is no other than that--I'd definitely read more.