Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #19

GENRE: YA Mystery

Evan pulled a paperback book from his back pocket before going into the stall that had a big OUT OF ORDER sign on the door. The toilet itself was blocked off with a board so it made an okay place to sit and read. He was reading The Martian Chronicles for the thousandth time when he heard the door open and froze. Voices made him aware he was no longer alone in the bathroom. "I gotta take a piss," said a voice Evan knew well. One of the prime bullies. El Primo Bully himself. Or EPB as Evan called him. Winchester Barrett, the third. His father owned the biggest factory in three counties and EPB never let anyone forget it. Evan didn’t want EPB to notice him so he kept quiet and pulled his feet up so he sat cross-legged on the board.

“After school, we’ll take him to the clearing near the Oak tree, beat the shit outta him and see how smart his mouth is tomorrow, deal?” EPB said. Evan heard a flush.

“Deal,” said another voice. The door creaked and footsteps echoed going away. Evan sighed and opened the stall door. He peered out. It was safe, they were gone. He relaxed his shoulders, and went out into the hallway just as the bell rang.


  1. I thought it was a very good opening. You managed to fill it with suspense and questions yet did so in a way that seemed natural and not forced. I think that was accomplished because of what Evan was doing in the stall - reading his book. So, you also managed to give us some insight into his chacter at the same time. You did a lot in 250 words. Well done.

  2. This I want to keep reading. Good job.

  3. I think you have the beginnings of a great beginning. A couple of suggestions: first, start a new paragraph with "I gotta take a piss," since it is the quote of a second paragraph. Then, change it to something else. "Taking a piss" is stating the obvious. Why would he announce it when he's in the bathroom? Second, I'd delete "Or EPB as Evan called him." It seems redundant; the rest is adequate.

    The remainder is wonderful. The actions and details show that the MC is nerd. Well done. Makes me want to root for him.

    I'd read on.

  4. I love your eye for detail and characterization. Very well done.

    My only nit is the fact that the MC calls them "bullies." I teach HS and we, as teachers, call kids bullies but the kids don't call people bullies. They think of...well...more colorful language to call them. :P

    This is still great though. Good job and much luck!

  5. You're setting up a good conflict here. Bullying is very commercial in YA.

    But I wanted to know more about Evan. There are some hints of his voice (and the dialogue has some clever rhythm) but for the snarky voice to work it has to be stronger. And I think the rhythm of this scene is off. It goes by too fast. I've barely had time to meet Evan before I'm being forced to understand his conflict with bullies, and the scene moves on. You can take more time to linger here and give us context for Evan's character and conflict.

  6. I agree with the comments above. This is a really fun start, and I like Evan.
    I do wonder about using language like "piss" and "shit" so early on in the book. Not because I'm a prude, I just wonder if it would turn off some librarians or book buyers? Secret Agent might have commented on that, though, if s/he thought it was an issue.
    As I was reading, I wasn't sure if Evan was the target EPB was referring to. Does Evan suspect he knows who they're going to beat up? If so, maybe there could be some foreshadowing in the final paragraph.