Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #19

TITLE: The House on Grosvenor Street
GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy

Freddy never knew exactly how well or how badly she remembered that encounter in the park. She hadn’t done much with the memory—taking it out whenever she touched the key, but not for more than a few seconds at a time—and she sometimes thought she preferred it vague. But she found it varied much more than her other memories did. Some things that had happened to her she remembered sharply, as if she had stepped away from the time of the memory only just now; some had faded to a fuzzy grey. Mel told her once that this was supposedly normal and had something to do with synapses, but Freddy didn’t pay much attention to Mel when she used words that were bigger than she was. The encounter in the park was sharp and fuzzy at the same time. She could feel the wood of the bench digging into her legs; she could see the key flashing between the woman’s fingers. She thought she remembered every word they had spoken. Maybe she was just pretending she did. A lot of the images were blurred, incomplete.

She thought it had gone like this:

The voices from the house faded behind her as Freddy tore across the front yard and then the street, heading into the park. She had run into the park a lot lately. Her parents didn’t ever really talk any more; it was all screaming, broken by intervals of icy silence.


  1. I think if you lose the entire paragraph at the beginning--with all the ramblings about memories we don't know about, and all the names we don't care about yet--then your story really begins. You already know all the characters you're naming; we don't, so wait before throwing everyone at us. Give us some space, and tell us what's going on and why we should care before filling us in on your character's philosophy on memories.

    Just my opinion, of course. = ) Thanks for sharing!

  2. I'm not feeling a connection to the main character because of the "telling". Put me in the scene, show me a reason to care about their fate.

  3. The intro paragraph was too long, vague, and confusing to hook me. It's all telling about things that I still don't really understand even after reading it, and then it goes straight to backstory. If the flashback is where the story begins, start with that. If not, start somewhere else and give that to us later.

    It's difficult to creating mysterious story questions without leaving the reader with a wth? moment. But I do like ideas I've gleaned about a girl not certain whether she can trust her own memories about an event because I'm hoping we get to go through the journey of the discovery with her. You just need to simplify and clarify the problem and start at a place that is in the moment and provides tension or conflict.

  4. There are some cool parts to this, I like how she can retrieve a memory from touching the key. I think all of this narrative should be woven into something more active. Show the MC doing something and trickle all of this in. It seems like great information, just not the best fit for an opening page.

  5. I think you can make the opening paragraph work because the idea of concrete memory retrieval is a cool hook - but you'll need some SERIOUS slashing. Here's the info I'd keep:

    Freddy hadn't done much with the memory of the park. She took it out whenever she touched the key, but not for more than a few seconds at a time, and she sometimes thought she preferred it vague. She could feel the wood of the bench digging into her legs; she could see the key flashing between the woman’s fingers. But a lot of the images were blurred, incomplete.

    Just a rough approximation, obv, but the rest of the material just doesn't grab me because it's not comprehensible enough. All the stuff about Mel, etc. - and the rest can be way condensed.

    Anyway, then you can get to the action faster while still planting us firmly in the realm of fantasy on page one. I like the description in the last paragraph, the "intervals of icy silence" especially. One nitpick - *anymore, not any more.

    Best of luck!

  6. I really like the way you start out with the key as the trigger point for the memory. I also really like Riley's slashing of the first paragraph. Sums up everything we need to know, without being too weighty.

    It's hard to be sure from the 250 words, but it seems to me that you say the images are blurred and incomplete - but then you go on to give us a detailed account of what happened. It could be the description fades out in the next paragraph, but you need to make sure it's not too detailed (or telling).

  7. The beginning paragraph didn't really hook me. There's lots of telling. For instance, the key seems to be important to the character/story, but why? Also, I was a little confused when you say:

    She thought it had gone like this

    Can the reader trust the narrator's memory?