Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #30

GENRE: YA- Contemporary

After I set the timer for the double-chocolate cupcakes, I carry the duct-taped laundry basket through the living room. Just as I pass the couch, where I see my brother Skunk’s video game is on pause, he roughly bumps into me from behind. The basket and I careen toward the tall shelf that holds Mama’s porcelain doll collection. It teeters, and I imagine the dolls crashing to the floor and ghastly shards of half-broken frozen smiles leering at me, but thankfully, it rights itself. Only wet laundry spills on the carpet as I let the basket go and catch myself on the back of the couch. I lower down to hands and knees to pick up the sopping clothes.

“Get out of the way Sugar,” Skunk shouts as his orange soda nearly sloshes out of the plastic big-gulp cup. He plops back into his divot on the sofa. “Damn. You’re always in the way.”

“Sorry,” I say softly.

But it’s true. I am always in the way. I’ve known this for as long as I can remember. The fat Puerto-Rican-Polish girl, who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her skin or anywhere else for that matter, has always been too much and yet not enough.

I struggle to slide the back door along its dirt-encrusted track, trying to force it wide enough to fit the basket and me through. I walk into the sunshine letting it warm my face for a moment.


  1. There are a lot of really great, subtle descriptors here. And I especially liked your fourth paragraph.

    The one thing I would suggest would be to consider if this is the right place to start your book. The writing is really great, but there's nothing in the first paragraph to really hook readers. And you want them to be hooked right away :)

  2. This sets up a vivid picture - I held my breath when the shelf wobbled.

    I echo what the previous poster says about starting point. First lines are important, and I would have like to see this start with a little more of a punch.

  3. This needs a hook and some conflict to make it sing.

  4. Lots of concrete imagery here, which is good. I can picture the whole incident. Also, you give us a nice beginning insight into who the main character is. She's insecure and doesn't have the courage to stand up for herself even when she is not in the wrong. She's even down on herself within her mind. I liked that fat Puerto-Rican polish girl line . It makes her sound like she has given up, and I feel for her. The names for the MC and her brother are cute by the way.

    I like her and I want to see where this book will take her. Maybe finding confidence in herself.

    I also think the beginning needs a bit more spark to draw readers in. While I was hooked in the later paragraphs, first liners are where you need to make a great impression. :)

  5. I agree with the others. Great imagery. The duct tape on the laundry basket sets the scene plus all the valuable dolls, and I love the last line too.

    But I agree I don't feel any conflict here at all. I thought the dolls would break but they didn't.

    I need more conflict than she just feels in the way. I'm sure there is much more to it!

  6. I really feel for Sugar! You'd done a lovely job of making us inhabit her skin. You've got a lot going on in that first paragraph. Stretch things out a bit in this opening scene. Don't rush it.

  7. The opening scene felt a little off to me because the actions of baking cupcakes, hanging laundry out to dry, and taking care of the little brother felt more "mom" than "teenager" to me. I realize teenagers do those sorts of chores, but it's more often something they complain than a happy-home-maker lifestyle they enjoy.

    I liked the way you made us feel for the main character, but maybe this isn't the best scene to give the reader a first impression of her. A scene with other teenagers might better show her insecurities.