Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #35

TITLE: Denali in Hiding
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

When my mom is mad at me, I usually understand why.

I understood why she said, “Calling it an ‘academic pursuit’ doesn’t get you off the hook,” when I dug a six-foot hole in the front yard to show Eli how the earth changes like a rainbow the deeper you go.

I got why she frowned and said, “That was mean and really sort of disgusting,” when Ethan and I—with just the right mix of apple juice, lemonade, and water—convinced Eli we were sipping pee on the porch.

I was not surprised when she screeched, “What the hell am I supposed to tell the mechanic?” after I practiced lifting her truck before I was ready and it clunked down hard in our driveway, bits and parts rattling about.

But I don’t understand why the smoky frustration crept into her eyes when I told her Ethan and I burned my last journal. She said coolly, “We will talk about this when I get back.”

While she’s out bartending, I’m stuck wondering what I did wrong. The only thing I can figure is maybe she thinks I let Ethan read it. She knows I write about everything and she gets touchy when she thinks there is even a remote chance someone might find out about me. Even if that someone is Ethan.

Ethan, who leaves various types of miniature plastic leprechauns around our house for us to discover.


  1. I like this. And I see where you're going--telling what's special about the MC right off the bat. But I'm curious how much of this is telling and how much is showing. It's as though you start with back story. I know it's been done in YA and even done well, but I think you can make this tighter. More in the now rather than looking back.

    I'd start with the scene of her confessing to her mom that Ethan had burned her last journal. Just in that scene you can hint what's special about her. Hint at what was in the journal and her anticipation of her mother's harsh reaction. This way you're showing the characters and building tension right out the gate. The reader will keep reading past those first few paragraphs to find out what her mom's going to do. So while her mom stands there eyeing her with "smokey frustration" she can think how something's amiss because when she did this, her mom reacted with that, etc. Then cut back to current scene and show mom's response.

    Just my opinion, but I think that'd keep readers hungry for more. :)

  2. I like the term smokey frustration,

    I don't really mind the way it starts and the little backstory because it sort of builds up for me, but I do agree with Rachel that maybe you should slip in the bit about the journal earlier on.

    I would definitely read more, and I really like the personality and voice that you've got going :)

  3. I really like the voice in this! I don't generally read much Sci-Fi but I would definitely keep reading here. I love the details. I would consider for sure what the other two commenters before me said about the journal, but I enjoyed this one a lot so it's hard for me to imagine it different. It does take a little while for her to get to the point but I just enjoyed getting there anyway! Great job, I love your writing :)

  4. Great voice! I would definitely read on. Good job - I'm hooked!

  5. I don't mind that the story doesn't begin with immediate scene. The anecdotes about the MC's behavior that got him/her in trouble are funny.

    I agree with the others who have commented that perhaps you could introduce the journal sooner, but I would definitely read on.

  6. I don't read much Sci-Fi, but I would continue with this. I absolutely love the first and third example because it shows us the character and the world, but the second one feels so normal that it's almost a wasted opportunity to tell us something else unique about the world. Also the second example makes me think the MC is much younger than the first and third one. I didn't care for the smoky frustration line, but everything else, I'm in. I'm curious and I absolutely love the voice here. I wish I could read on.

  7. Great voice! Like how you build up to the journal. It gives us a good sense of the MC. I'd definitely read on.

  8. I like the premise of a super-powered kid. This should be a voice-driven narrative, and plenty of posters are connecting with your voice, so that's a plus.

  9. Great voice.

    Introduce the journal sooner.

    Do not change the beginning; the MC characterization makes it unique.

    Juvenile of me, but i like the 'pee on the porch' insight.

    Favorite line: the last one about Ethan.

    In 250, you've established: voice, world, character, a little background. GOOD job!

  10. I'm afraid the first sentence here really turned me off because kids would never admit that they understand why their parents are mad at them. I did like the way you quietly introduced her super powers among the other bad behavior that's more typical. And I love the idea of a super human kid living among us. Just not sure this is the strongest way to start that story.

  11. I was hooked by your first sentence, immediately wanting to know more and then of course you pull the sting to the end, only then revealing the answer.

    I don't mind starting out with a bit of story telling. If the narrative voice is strong, and yours is, then it makes me want to curl up for the night and get settled in.