Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #17

TITLE: Grey
GENRE: YA

“Sebastian Grey!”

I jolted, launching papers into orbit.

The voice boomed. “This is the third time I’ve called your name. Pay attention! Now, as I was saying…”

Rainbow-scorched leaves. Swirls of autumn. Gypsy music.

A girl dancing. Ribbons in her hair. Bright skirts against tanned skin.

“Sebastian Grey!”

I flailed again. “Yes, sir?”

“Are you joining this group or not? I need to get a list…”

Caravans of faded paint. Bonfires. Starless night.

From the darkness, guttural snarls that rip flesh from bone.

“For the last time, Mr. Grey, wake up!”

My body jerked to attention. I squinted into blinding whiteness, and for a split second, I wasn’t totally convinced of my surroundings. Then, as fluorescent lights bored into my skull, it hit me.

It was seventh period.

I was in the middle of class.

And twenty-five pairs of eyes were staring straight at me.

Every school supply I owned littered the floor, except for the pencil that I’d somehow snapped between my fingers. I coughed awkwardly and hunkered in my seat. Across the aisle, Avery leaned sideways in his desk, giving me the look I’d seen way too many times—the one that questioned my sanity.

Mr. Weir glowered at me from under spidery eyebrows. I prepared myself for the tirade. But just as he took a wheezing breath, the bell rang. I shrugged and gave him my best smile as the room reverberated with slamming books and screeching chairs.

Students flooded the aisles.

14 comments:

  1. I found this to be somewhat confusing. Is there a better place you can start your novel which shows us something about the MC and his goal?

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  2. I really like the line "I jolted, launching papers into orbit." but the italic parts confused me, and I'd almost cut all of that until you get to
    "My body jerked to attention. I squinted into blinding whiteness, and for a split second, I wasn’t totally convinced of my surroundings. Then, as fluorescent lights bored into my skull, it hit me."

    I also agree with that above comment, I'd love to see a bit more about the MC early on besides just that they are a daydreamer.

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  3. I'd suggest if you're going to show bits of a daydream or vision, put it all together and really SHOW us, not just the MC's reaction to it. I think you could inject it here as a whole, showing us how it takes him out of a simple lecture. The way it is confused me a bit. Was the MC still experiencing it? Did it come in those short flashes?

    I assume since his friend gave him a look, its happened before.

    There's potential here, but as a reader I'd want to see what the MC does, it might help get me invested.

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  4. I agree with the comments above. I was confused over what was happening, Was he sleeping, daydreaming, having a vision? That needs to be made clearer. I also agree that the story may need to start in a different place. Give us a little more of a lead in to the visions and to why the MC may be having them.

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  5. A few too many exclamation points for YA. Also, what kind of YA? Need to specify: romance, sci-fi, contemporary, thriller, etc.

    Maybe start with

    It was seventh period.

    I was in the middle of class, thinking about ______(MC's goal).

    And twenty-five pairs of eyes were staring straight at me.

    I've always read never start sentences with conjunctions. Maybe just, Twenty-five pairs ...stared straight at me.

    Every school supply I owned littered the floor, except for the pencil that I’d somehow snapped between my fingers. I coughed awkwardly (delete adverbs like awkwardly) and hunkered in my seat. Across the aisle, Avery leaned sideways in his desk, giving me the look I’d seen way too many times—the one that questioned my sanity.

    Mr. Weir glowered at me from under spidery (describe a bit more) eyebrows. I prepared myself for the tirade. But just as he took a wheezing breath, the bell rang. I shrugged and gave him my best smile as the room reverberated with slamming books and screeching chairs. (nice description here)

    Students flooded the aisles.

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  6. I actually like how this started out, assuming of course we get some understanding shortly whether he's a constant day dreamer or if he has visions. Since it's just listed as YA, I'm not really sure which way to take it. Seeing that all the school supplies were on the floor makes me think something more than just a day dream is happening, but I could be wrong.

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  7. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 16, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    I'm going to be the oddball out and say that I really like this just the way it is, and would definitely keep reading. There is enough intrigue to hook me and I love the way you describe things (i.e. launching papers into orbit, spidery brows).

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  8. This didn't quite hook me, but I'm intrigued about where the story is heading and what the visions mean. It's been noted on this blog how certain beginnings are a bit overdone: YA character in a classroom, just waking up, a dream sequence. It might better serve the story to pick a more unique scene that will set the stage for your story. I know, easy right? I'm also curious what genre this is, I'm guessing some sort of paranormal?

    Best of luck to you!

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  9. I liked the idea of it but not necessarily the execution. I got that he was daydreaming in class but the images of his dream in italics only served to confuse the situation. If you can somehow keep both ideas and clear it up then I am right there because it sounds very interesting :) The name - not a small thing by any means - is really great and catchy. Sebastian Grey - like it :). I guess to expand on the above I would say that the reader needs to be grounded before you can give him or her dream sequences ((or visions)....without that grounding it becomes confusing. But, I am also sure you can do both without sacrificing the intent of your opening :)

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  10. I was sitting in class, in that half-awake state. My mind saw images and heard things that were so much better than what was going on around me.... Gypsy Music, A girl dancing.....
    "Sebastian Grey!"
    I jolted...

    bla bla bla...but you see? if you set it up earlier maybe it loses that confusion and you can then run with it....anyway., nice job :)))

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  11. I disagree about setting this up with explanation first. I thought it was perfectly clear what was happening. He wasn't paying attention in class. And when the teacher yells at him to wake up, we know he's been dreaming.

    I also thought the italics made it clear that the things in the italics was what he was dreaming about, and I really loved those descriptions. They were my favorite part.

    The only thing I didn't like was the last sentence - Students flooded the aisles. It just seemed a bit too mundane.

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  12. Hmm. I don't normally like openings that feature classrooms or visions/ dreams, and yet... I like this. I think it's that the writing is so clean and precise, and the sentences in italic really intrigued me. Especially the change from pleasant visions to 'guttural stars that rip flesh from bone.'.

    I guess that's the power of good writing - it can draw you into something that wouldn't normally interest you. Well done.

    The only suggestion I'd make is that I don't think a male character can be called Mr Grey ever again. Sad but true. I'd think of a new surname.

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  13. *snarls, not stars (And if I didn't make it clear, I'd definitely read on! And I wouldn't change anything :)

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  14. I like your writing very much. Daydreaming (or having visions) in class is a familiar trope, but you’ve done it well. I do wonder if there’s another place to start, so that it stands out more, but I’m hooked! I’d like to know where this is going, and what the genre is. Much as I like the name Sebastian Grey, I agree with Girl Friday about the name. Placing YA with boy protagonists is more difficult than with girl protagonists, so I’d definitely like to know what the sub-genre is, and whether there is a romance.

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