Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #6

TITLE: The God Maker
GENRE: YA Fantasy

“There’s an A on your report card. Explain. Now.”

Dad’s got that psycho glint in his eye, one that means (another fight) the varnish’s about to peel off the floorboards. He flashes a sheet of paper like a butcher knife and blocks the only exit to my room and I glare right back. I had to cheat and I’m not sorry I did.

But you sure as hell don’t admit that to your dad.

“Ms. Seltson gave me extra credit on my final,” I say, because it’s kind of true and more than anything I don’t want to fight.

“It was a ‘D’ two weeks ago.”

“The final… counts for most of our grade, it—”

“Trey, I talked to Ms. Seltson at the market today. She said the final was thirty percent of your grade.”

The floorboards are curling. Just the corners, like skin off a scab, oak thin as fingernails. I wish some bad things on Ms. Seltson and wonder why she had to go to the market anyway and wonder why Dad can’t just trust me. I knew that A would screw me.

I knew it would.

“I graduated,” I say. “You should be happy I finally graduated.”

“Did you syphon Ms. Seltson?”

I look at him like he’s asked if I killed someone because why would he even think of that? Good kids don’t know how to alter memories, don’t even say the word ‘syphon,’ and I swear, most of the time I’m a good kid.


  1. Very intriguing. Tension on the first page, and we get a glimpse of her power.

  2. Lori A. Goldstein (@_lagold)January 16, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    I'm interested for sure! And I see where you are leading up to the "syphon" part but I'm questioning a bit if there'd be a better example to get to this than a grade on a report card, especially if the character has graduated. The tension is great (though I'm unsure if the character is actually making the varnish peel and the floorboard curl or that's just a metaphor). I suspect it's part of the MC's powers and if so I'd like to be positive about it. The "another fight" in parens is a bit jarring to me--makes me have to re-read the sentence and I'm not sure it's necessary.

    Good luck!

  3. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 16, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    Love the tension. Love that you introduced something unique right away on page one. I was thrown off by the parenthetical "another fight", and I'm not sure how you flash a sheet of paper like a butcher knife. Other than that, love. I would definitely keep reading.

  4. Great opening. You balanced the dialogue with enough details to set the tone of the story and genre. My suggestions are minor: the parenthetical "another fight" in the first line is distracting, I don't think you need it, especially since the character mentions he doesn't want to fight later. The line "But you sure as hell don't admit that to your dad" might work better as "But I sure as hell wouldn't admit that to my dad" just to keep consistent with the first person narrative. The syphon terminology worked ok for me because it was explained right after. Nice work. The title is intriging, too.

  5. I love this. Sorry I can't add anything to help you out, but I think it's great. The tension is there. And I don't entirely understand what it means to "syphon", but I'm certain it will be a large part of the story. Very nice introduction.

  6. The voice is great! However, I have to admit to feeling dropped into the middle of a book instead of the beginning. Beginnings are tricky; you need to make it compelling and immediate, but also very clear how things start off. I was lost.

    I don't understand what the MC means about "another fight", and it would be good to know the MC's name. I also didn't get what's going on with the floorboards. Is the curling of the floorboards a metaphor for something? And what is the syphon thing about?

    Sorry I couldn't be more positive about this, but it went right over my head. I write fantasy, but I couldn't connect with this.

  7. The first lines work well, and the father/son tension gives a great emotional backdrop for introducing the idea of syphoning. I think the dialogue is clear enough that you could omit the inner dialogue about not wanting a fight; it's clear without saying so that the MC is trying to diffuse the situation.

  8. Ooh, I really like this, and I like how you build up slowly to the idea of 'syphoning' and don't just throw a bunch of world-building at us at once. I love how I presume 'the varnish’s about to peel off the floorboards.' is just a metaphor and then 'The floorboards are curling. Just the corners, like skin off a scab, oak thin as fingernails.' comes along to show that no, it's real. Great sentence, btw.

    Only small change I'd suggest is altering 'Dad’s got that psycho glint in his eye, one that means (another fight) the varnish’s about to peel off the floorboards.' to 'Dad’s got that psycho glint in his eye, the one that means the varnish is about to peel off the floorboards.'

    Would definitely read on!

  9. Effective construction because of your setting up a situation and only introducing the word "syphon" at the end. That causes the reader to go back and re-evaluate all that has come before and see it in a totally new light. Very clever. I am interested in the narrator because at the outset he admits to a character flaw - ie. that he doesn't mind cheating. The fact that he also knows this is something you don't tell your father shows he has a kind of vulpine self-awareness of the world around him. I would definitely read on to see where it goes.

  10. Love this! I love how surprising the opening paragraph is, and the dialogue between dad and MC rings true. I like the voice and would totally keep reading. Only thing is, I don't get fantasy from this opening? Which is good, because I don't like hard fantasy. Is this more grounded in real life? That's how it feels from this opening.

  11. You’ve got a very nice set-up here. I like the dialogue between father and son. I wish that you had started a little earlier just to give some context. The opening line feels very abrupt, although I like the irony of being yelled at for earning an “A”. You could tighten up the writing a bit, but overall, I’m hooked.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Oops! Didn't mean to delete that one. It was supposed to say:

    Just wanted to pop in to thank everyone for your feedback! If anyone would like to keep in touch I'm @nata1iek; would love to follow you!

  14. I would keep reading, but like the others, I think if you have to explain something in parenthesis than you shouldn't say it. I would make it clearer and take it out.