Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #46

TITLE: The Phoenix
GENRE: YA Speculative Thriller

There's a dead boy at my window.

I slide out of bed and squint in the darkness to be sure my eyes aren’t playing tricks. I recognize the dead boy right away, and he’s at the wrong window.

My ex-best friend Evan huddles on the porch, clinging with both hands to my window frame in the moonlight. A year and a half ago we sprinkled his ashes (so we thought) behind the Coral Beach High School football field. His parents said some nice things, and a lot of kids cried. The principal even shut down school for a few days. Seemed like an overreaction to me, but when the most popular guy in school disappears and turns up dead, overreaction is status quo.

Yet somehow here he is, staring at me with eyes wide and bloodshot and definitely alive. His hair is all gone, his skin so sickly pale it glows silver in the moonlight, and there's a huge, jagged scar running across his skull. Beneath the flimsy hospital gown his body is shrunken, concave. Not at all the cocky quarterback I remember. Despite all that, I'm sure it's him.

"Brie," Evan says, voice muffled through the glass, "are you in there?"

I blink a few times, so hard that blue spots swirl on the backs of my eyelids. This can’t be happening. I must be hallucinating again.

25 comments:

  1. Your first line got my attention right away and the whole section left me wanting more. My one minor nitpick is the use of the word window 3 times in the first four sentences. It caught my eye and the repetition pulled me away from the writing for a brief moment. Otherwise I love the voice and am extremely curious to see what happens next.

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  2. The first line has huge potential, but it's very hard to picture exactly what it means. I'd try, "There's a dead boy outside my window."

    I love the second sentence, and half of the next, but I'm not sure what you mean by, or why you need, "and he's at the wrong window." That sort of hangs there.

    I'm not a fan of, "Seemed like an overreation..." but by and large, I like the writing and am dying (no pun intended) to find out what's going on here. Good job.

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  3. Yes, I'm hooked. My mind is racing to figure out what happened to Evan...mad scientist resucitation, government experiments, zombies, what?

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  4. A dead boy at her window...what an opener! But, for me, I think that the next paragraph morphed into an info dump. It seems to be like knowing that he was popular could wait until we see what he looks like.

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  5. I love the first three sentences. I would definitely continue to see how he died and why he's back. Great start.

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  6. Hey! I read this during the first five and loved the changes you made. I would and want to read more! Got me hooked again :)

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  7. Really enjoyed this. I would only add that you need to specify who Brie is (or isn't, but maybe you do that on the next line making my point moot lol). Since you say he's at the wrong house, you could simply add "Brie," Evan said, referring to the girl next door. Just a bad example, but you can see what I mean. Best of luck!!

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  8. I love this! I remember it from another contest, and I really love your changes. My only nitpick is I'd say "him" instead of "the dead boy" in the second sentence. Killer opening line, and I love the tease with "I must be hallucinating again." I'm hooked!

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  9. I'm hooked! Dying to know what happened to Evan. The "wrong window" line IS confusing, but who cares? :)

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  10. This is a great opening! I love the bit about him being at the wrong window. At first I thought he was a ghost and that there was some fault in his death, and he's blaming the wrong person. When it became apparent he was alive, I wondered whose window she expects him to be at.

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  11. Your first line-- short, snappy and intriguing. Its perfect. I'm definitely hooked. This was a brilliant piece of writing. I wasn't a big fan of the second paragraph because I feel like you show all this later rather than telling us now. Otherwise, its great.

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  12. Sorry this is what I meant: 'you could potentially show all this later...'

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  13. I like it and I'm hooked. The only snag for me was that his parents said something nice while some kids cried. I would think it would be the reverse...And I also want to know why she says he's at the wrong window.

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  14. The first line seriously hooks me and I can't help but keep reading. I'm also intrigued by the word "again" in the last line-- so this has happened before, then? I want to know more.

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  15. I wondered where her reaction is. She has a dead boy staring in her window, and doesn’t react to it in any way. If this is the first time it happened, might she be scared, curious, freaked out?

    If she’s used to him coming to the window, except he’s at a different window (the wrong window) wouldn’t she wonder why? Is he hard to look at? Is she startled when he speaks? This would have much more power if you included her reactions.

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  17. As everyone has already said, the first line is a great hook and immediately pulls us in.

    I would consider shortening or changing the second paragraph, as it takes us away from the action and may not be necessary information just yet.

    But so far you've got a couple of mysteries going on already, and it's more than enough to keep me reading. Good start.

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  18. I really like this. I breezed right by the "at the wrong window" but since someone pointed it out I can now see the oddness.

    I did like how my mind raced - ghost, no vampire, no medical experiment...I wanted more.

    The only thing that made me pause was the part about her feeling it was an overreaction to close the school for a few days. It makes her sound heartless - but maybe she is. So I would continue to find out.

    I'm having problems posting. Hum. What am I doing wrong?

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  19. Although confusing I find it very telling that our MC's first reaction is that Evan is at the wrong window. At the end though I'm led to believe that Evan is where he wants to be despite what the MC might think. He is called an ex-best friend after all, definetly implying a falling out.

    I would be very excited to read more! Love the line "overreaction is status quo"!

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  20. The first line and the last line are very intriguing. I love “he’s at the wrong window.” The second paragraph and third paragraphs could be tightened up. I’d like to maybe see the MC interact with him. “seemed like an overreaction to me” got my back up a bit; made the MC seem unlikable. The last line, “I must be hallucinating again” did leave me wanting to know what’s going to happen. I like the voice, and I’m hooked.

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  21. Love the first line and "wrong window". I would definitely want to read more.

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  22. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    I'm hooked and would definitely keep reading to see where you take this concept. The only thing that made me pause is that she comes across a bit too casual at first, so I thought this was not something new for her--I thought maybe she knew he wasn't really dead and it was some big secret between them. But then she's freaking out at the end of the passage and it confused me. So if this is not normal she needs to react to it immediately in a way that shows this, or you send the wrong message.

    But even despite that, I would keep reading. This has nice intrigue.

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  23. This reads so easily, no wonder the secret agent liked it. Nice work!

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