Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #11

GENRE: YA thriller

“A,” I said under my breath. Even my whisper held confidence. I’m not sure how I knew it, but it always gave me a rush when I was right. And that happened a lot.

“Oooh, I’m sorry,” said the host. “The answer is actually A, the Judicial branch. We’re going to take a short time out before we wrap up our quiz bowl with the tie-breaking question. We’ll be back in five.”

“I can’t believe you’ve gotten every question right, you’re such a brain,” my little brother Torrey said beside me in the audience. He, my sister and I sat in Johnston Hall, a gorgeous building that resembled a gothic cathedral, part of Marquette University. I loved buildings that looked like they could be part of a video game. Schools from all over had brought their best teams to the state-wide competition. Yet another thing I couldn’t get enough of. You’d think I’d be up on the stage instead of in the audience. But I was there on a top-secret mission. Well, more like against my parents’ wishes. I wasn’t on any of the teams.

“Yeah, well, you’ll know the answers too when you’re in high school.”

“But they didn’t know every answer.”

“That’s because they don’t study enough.”

“Whatever you say. I’ve never seen you study. Oh, and, by the way, didn’t Mom and Dad forbid you from watching game shows?”


  1. I absolutely love the title! Love it. I love your detail as well. Everything and everyone jumps off the page.

    That said, it seems to flow better if the brother says, “Whatever” rather than “Whatever you say” because it’s hard to understand the tone the brother is saying this line in right before going into “I’ve never seen you study.” Or perhaps just cut the “Whatever line” and start from “I’ve never seen you study.” Also maybe cut “Oh, and, by the way,” and just start at “Didn’t Mom…”

    If I were in a bookstore, based off the title alone, I'd already be hooked. But the first 250 words would make me very happy that I made the choice to pick this up.

  2. I'm a little lost at the beginning of this scene--I didn't realize at first that she wasn't up on the stage, so it confused me when the host said his line about being incorrect. I know you explain it pretty much right afterward, but I'd rather know that up front; it would make it more intriguing. Otherwise, I ADORE your title, and I think I like where this is going. Good luck!

  3. Neat title. I liked this and I'd read more but I have a few issues.

    I read the first few lines several times because I was a bit confused but the next paragraph helped to ground me. I enjoyed the interaction with her brother but the last line confused me. Why is she forbidden? Why is it a 'by the way' if they've snuck out to watch?

  4. I loved the opening two paragraphs. The last line didn't ring true, though. Other than that, I liked it.

  5. Like Julia and Flower, I was a little confused at first because I thought she was up on stage, not in the audience. But I am curious why she's not up on stage if she's smart enough to have answered every question correctly. We're told she's very smart, so why is she forbidden to use her intelligence in this way? That would definitely keep me reading.

  6. Beginning with dialogue is such a tricky thing because it really throws the reader into the story without much to go on. That's the only part I found difficult to understand in this passage.

    That being said, I think you have a keen eye for realistic dialogue and that is SO important. I found the dialogue believable and very accessible. Good job!

    Much luck!

  7. I like the opening lines here! The opening with the quiz show is working.

    But then I thought the transition to explaining the setting and where they were was a little awkward. I wanted to see a little more of her reaction to being right, and see the scene move forward further, before being pulled out of it to learn the backstory and setting details. (I know I've said elsewhere I want context, but it's a delicate balance to have enough context for the character and setting without surprising me out of the action by moving away from the character to description.)

    But with a little rearranging to bring out the voice and character more, I think this is a strong opening! I'd read a little more to find out what's going on.