Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #21

TITLE: Don't Cry for Me, Genevieve
GENRE: YA contemporary

Whoa. It was beautiful, breathtaking, and every adjective in between. I sat atop the mountain, the sun at my back and the world at my feet. For once, I didn’t feel like the forgotten foster girl. The wind rushed around my face and I laughed in the thrill of it all. I was free!

It took me a few moments to realize that I wasn't alone. A man, one who wore a white robe and a weathered smile, put his hand on my shoulder as if to ensure me that I needn’t be afraid.

“Genevieve,” he breathed, almost as if we’d known each other all our lives.

I only smiled in return. “It wasn’t easy, was it?” he asked, a twinkle in his eye.

I inclined my head toward him. “What do you mean?”

He gestured to the creation that surrounded us. “Making it to the top, of course!”

“You know, I don’t actually remember the climb.” Everything before this moment was strangely blurry.

“That’s because once you’ve made it, and once you’ve seen this,” he paused to open his arms to all that lay below us, “you realize the struggle was worth it.” I nodded my head in silent agreement, and was taken back as he suddenly began to walk away. “Don’t you forget that, Genevieve Joans,” he called over his shoulder.

I stood up to follow him, yelling into the wind, “How do you know my name?”

“Did you have a question, Ms. Joans?” I bolted upright, the man vanishing before my eyes.


  1. I'm intrigued enough to read more. I think your second sentence could be something like: There weren't enough adjectives in a thesaurus to describe the view. To show the immensity of the beauty (since beautiful is so subjective).

    Second paragraph: ensure needs to be assure.

    I know some agents don't like dream sequences at the beginning of novels, but this "vision" or whatever it is pulls me in enough to see where it goes.

  2. You've got some interesting stuff here; the scene you describe is intriguing. I do think starting with a dream sequence is problematic, especially in YA contemporary, where the dream can't be explained away as, say, a psychic vision that might tie into the plot. The mysterious dream mentor gets a bit lecture-y.

    I agree with Durango Writer about "ensure," as well as the clunkiness of the second sentence; there's another problem later on when you use "taken back" instead of "taken aback."

    Your protagonist seems to have a lot of potential. You might try getting into her head via some method other than a dream, but I would certainly be interested in learning more about her.

  3. The others already talked about beginning with a dream so I won't harp on it too much except to suggest that you ask yourself if the story itself can survive without this dream as the first scene. Also, how does this dream move the story forward? Since there's only 250 of course, we have no way of knowing how this ties in.

    As far as the writing goes, I suggest more specificity. "It was beautiful..." What was beautiful? The view? The landscape. I have no idea where the MC is so I immediately felt as if I had missed something. How was it beautiful? Was it the way the mountains peeked in and out of the clouds?

    Also, be careful with word choice. "...he breathed..." You can't breathe words. (I know that reads sarcastic. I don't mean it that way.) Along with that, as written, it sounds as if the robed guy is breathing the was he is because he knows the MC. Make sense?

    Anyway, good luck with this.

  4. I meant "breathing the waY he is." Sorry about that.

  5. I somewhat disagree with Rae. I like an author that leaves some room for the reader's imagination, not spelling everything out.

    The story definately had me wondering what direction you were heading and left me wanting to read more.

    I was not sure that the beginning was actually a dream sequence. I could imagine a number of different turns.

  6. The writing (aside from a few of the word choice issues that have been pointed out) was good, and I really liked the voice. I related to the character...

    While I liked the mountain scene, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with it in the story for several reasons.

    1) I'm not sure how it ties in... it seems like a cheap way to say that she's going to go through a struggle but it'll be worth it. Yet, I think I'd be happier getting some clue as to what that struggle might be because it was alluded to in the narrative.

    2) It seems out of place in the genre. There's foreshadowing a struggle, and then there's a higher power coming to you and telling you you're going to have one. The latter is usually reserved for fantasy or religious fiction.

    3) I don't see how this works in reality. There's nothing in the description that indicates she had fallen asleep in class (I'm just assuming that's where she is). So I'm left with the impression that she's had "a vision." In contemporary, that makes me think she's got some kind of neurological disorder.

  7. Starting with a dream completely threw me - particularly because I was thinking this doesn't ring true. How could she not know there was someone else at the top of the mountain? How could he know her name? Why wasn't she freaked out?

    Even once I realized it was a dream I was still thinking about all the questions.

  8. I like the writing; it pulled me in, and by the time I finished the page, I wanted to read more to see where you were going.

    I agree with Anonymous, though. I wasn't sure it was a dream at first, and I could imagine a different scenario.

    Heather also makes some good points.

    Nice start, though.

  9. I was very intrigued by your beginning. I think a YA book about a foster child who has struggles but ends up in a positive place is refreshing.
    The beginning seemed more like a premonition then a dream. I don't care for the part where he was wearing a white rope, to cliche for me.
    I would defiantly like to continue reading to find out more.