Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Enteleky
GENRE: Upper MG Contemporary Fantasy

“Do you know how much we've done to get you this far? You're going to lose your chance if you play like that again. I won’t let you lose it,” his father’s voice was rising.

Gabe’s grip on the arm rest tightened, squeezing what little was left of the padding. “We tried. They had a stronger team. We did our best.”

“Who cares about the team? They were watching you. What were you thinking? You should have been scoring.”

“Dad! Look!” he yelled as an oncoming car’s lights came straight at them.

His dad yanked the wheels back over the yellow line and turned the windshield wipers up faster. “Relax. I take you all over this waste of a city every weekend. I know how to drive. No little nothing is going to tell me how to drive.”

Gabe shifted closer to the door and tried to look through the streaked window but all he could see was the reflection of his father glaring at him, spewing words he no longer listened to. He had to admit that his father was right about one thing though. He couldn’t lose his chance. It was his ticket out.

With a calloused hand inches from his face he didn’t see what was coming, and neither did his dad. “No!” screamed at him from somewhere deep but his mouth never moved. They swerved hard, right through the rail. In the mist surrounding the bridge the beat up truck fell, no sense of speed, just a moment of pure loss.


  1. Oh! Great 250 and wonderful phrasing at the end!
    Good luck!
    ~Just Jill

  2. We definitely get a good sense of the father here--is he your main antagonist? I pretty much hate him already so if that's your goal, good work! "No little nothing" is a unique way to show their relationship, I dig it.

    I'm a little displaced in the dialogue at the beginning, some sense of setting (that they're driving) a little earlier would set up tension. Whenever movies open with someone driving I expect a crash! We get the crash here...but make us expect it earlier and we'll be in suspense for the whole first page.

    The "chance" that is so important gets a little lost in the beginning line of the dialogue. "Lose your chance" in the context of a sports team (which was what "play" made me think) could be something like going to the state champs. I want to more about why the chance is important when we first hear about it, even if it's just that it's the "ticket out."

    I believe the first line should be punctuated thus: "I won't let you use it." His father's voice was rising.

    Where does the calloused hand come from in the last paragraph? That confused me.

    I definitely want to know what happens after this crash, though! I'd turn the page.

  3. Good job creating tension. I feel for the kid and hate his dad.

  4. This could be a tense opening but the writing doesn’t grab me. Think you could start with a brief description of setting—windshield wipers, darkness, etc. Maybe he could think his father’s words felt like the windshield wipers slapping back and forth. Then go into the dialogue. Could tighten quite a bit. The first three bits of dialogues had three or four short sentences. You could combine or delete some.

    Maybe have his dad waving or pointing with one hand, to explain why he crossed the center line. I think the son would say, “Watch out!” instead of “Look.” Could delete the oncoming car there and put in next paragraph: “His dad yanked the wheels back over the yellow line just before the oncoming car sped past.”

    I like the “no little nothing” phrase! Also the description of the reflection, but think you should put “Gabe” instead of “he” in: “spewing words GABE no longer listened to” to avoid confusion that the “he” is his dad. I’d start a new paragraph with “His father was right about one thing.”

    The last paragraph would be more effective with short punchy sentences. I take it the father was getting ready to smack Gabe (with the calloused hands), but it’s awkwardly phrased.
    “Neither of them saw what was coming” doesn’t work because he did see what was coming. If you’ve already said Dad was waving or pointing earlier, you can delete the calloused hand part and go straight to something like: Suddenly the car swerved. Skidded. Slammed though the bridge’s railing. Then they were airborne, falling. No sense of speed, just a moment of pure loss.

  5. As previously said, I felt a bit disoriented with the opening. It's difficult to open with a string of dialogue because the reader has no clue who is talking, whom they are talking to, or what they're talking about. I didn't get a grip on this scene until it was halfway through. Even if you add one line to the opening letting us know Gabe's in the car after screwing up the big game. Then dive into Dad's rant, that would make a huge difference. I know you're limited on words here and you wanted to get to the crash, but because I was too caught up in figuring out what was happening, the crash didn't have the impact you intended.

    I also agree with the comment above about the Dad being a clear antagonist. He's instantly someone to hate. I didn't get any real sense of Gabe, but there's only so much that can be done in 250 words.

    You've certainly set up quite a bit of tension and conflict early so there's plenty of ways for that to play out through the rest of the book.

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  7. You definitely set up a kid for us to feel bad for, and the father's dialogue is great. I do think we'd get more into the boy's head if you showed us his visceral reactions to his dad's words though. Telling us doesn't have the same effect. Are his muscles tightening? Does he feel sourness rising from his gut? Is he having to fight the urge to punch him? Is the blood going so loud in his ears that his dad's words are turning into static? Make us feel his emotions, and you'll have us wanting to take a swing at his dad, too. ;)

    The other thing, though this scene is a good one, it doesn't feel like your opening. It seems like it should come a bit further in. Maybe your beginning actually happens with the boy out on the field, knowing--more and more as the game goes on--what's going to happen in the car for the drive home.

    Good luck!

  8. This is a great tense scene, but it's not your opening. You've dropped us smack dab in the middle of a dramatic moment with no context.

    I'd like to know a bit more about Gabe beyond the fact that his dad's a jerk. Like *who* is Gabe? Once we know this character, what he's like, and what he wants, this scene will be much more powerful, because we'll already empathize with him.