Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #35

TITLE: My Sister's Dating a Serial Killer
GENRE: YA Mystery/Thriller

Oh, crap.

The hair on my arms stands straight up.

Somebody's watching me.

I pedal my mountain bike faster.

My shoulders itch and I get an urge to head for home, but I keep my eyes straight ahead. I'm not going to let him know I'm onto him.

Mom's voice is in my head as if she's with me. "This is what comes of investigating people you shouldn't be investigating, Cameo."

Forget that. My whole family is totally tuned out to what's really going on in Sleepy Valley SC. I'm the only one who's paying attention.

The leafy overhang should keep me cool, but sweat drips off my brow because someone else is here.

Not only that, I have a pretty good idea who it is.

Signs of danger are everywhere. No reet, reet, reet from the cardinals, and no squirrels chasing each other up and down the magnolia and sourwood trees. Animals know when to get out of the way.

Somewhere behind me, a car engine roars to life.

I half-skid to a stop, unsure whether I should pedal like crazy and get out of here or let him roar past.

A familiar red convertible bursts out of the woods and heads in my direction.

Too late now to get away. I motion him to come around me. When I sneak another peek, a realization rips through my body like an electric shock.

He's not trying to pass. He's pointing his vehicle at me, revving his engine, and driving full throttle.


  1. I'm interested, but I'm also confused. It feels like I just turned the TV on in the middle of a movie, right as a good part, and I have no idea what it's about or whats going on. I want to sit down and watch the rest, but I'd rather find out it's title and start from the beginning.
    I have no idea if that makes sense to you or not. (Sorry if it doesn't.)
    I'm wondering if this turns out to be a "Let me start from the beginning" right after this beginning part? If so, I'd be down to read the rest.

  2. I felt a little disjointed with this as well. Several different thoughts that didn't support the whole?
    And maybe a pet peeve, but maybe the source of the problem - the use of the word "here" doesn't give the reader new information, especially if they don't know where "here" is. Maybe an opportunity to give more description (w/o dropping into total description of course).
    Sounds like a fun concept though, so well worth polishing.

  3. I struggled with the concept that she is so aware that someone else is there. Does ones shoulders really itch? Does the hair on arms stand straight up when you think someone is watching you? Animals don't 'get out of the way' when there is a car in the area - that is complete overkill. How does a car 'burst out of the woods??"

    I think there is just too much in here that is overdone and cliche, and certainly not what happens in reality.

    The lines starting with "Mom's voice is in my head" and "Forget that" are tells that don't need to be on the very first page. You're pretty much summing up what the whole book is about in two lines.

    I've read the query for this elsewhere, and I can't help feeling you're starting in the wrong place.

  4. I found the use of multiple paragraphs distruptive, where the sentences could be combined in a way that flows smoothly. The setting did not feel grounded. I couldn't figure out if the main character was in undisturbed woods, or on a road, or mountain biking over a path in the woods. Some of the details felt like they were there for the reader's benefit, like the name "Cameo", and "Sleepy Valley". These are all details that a good beta-reader would focus on, and the bottom line is that you've created an interesting opening scene with lots of tension.

  5. I guess I reacted to this a little differently! While I wouldn't start where this story started (in the middle of an action) I had a sense lf danger and would keep reading.

  6. You've definitely got a good thread of conflict and danger here, and I want to know how she/he escapes! I do agree with some of the other commenters' points. I'll just break it down:

    Starting with the hair standing up and "somebody's watching me" seems maybe a sentence too late. What is the actual clue the MC has here that he/she is being watched? It could be something like breaking branches, nothing complicated. Or you could even just let us know that the MC has really good instincts.

    I agree that you should watch the proliferation of one sentence paragraphs. You lose all of the power a one line paragraph can give you if you do it for basically a whole page. Save it for the best lines.

    The birds not chirping is probably overkill, like KayC said.

    I'm torn on the lines "Mom's voice" and "forget that." I like knowing that he's a rogue teen investigator, and that the problem is throughout all of Sleepy Valley. It doesn't really bother me to have them on the first page. Then again, I see KayC's point that it might be better to just dive in. Maybe you can choose one, or tighten it up?

    Would s/he really be sweating because he knows someone is there?

    Great use of the word "familiar" before convertible, this clues us in right away to the nature of the conflict.

    "Sneak another peek" seems out of place in such a high-tension first page. You'd sneak a peek at your hidden birthday presents, or something, but not at someone who may or may not be trying to kill you.

    Also, does the realization really rip through the MC's body like an electric shock? Can you just tell us that he's not trying to pass so the readers realize it the same time as MC?

    Definitely sounds like an exciting beginning though!

  7. The title of this has me interested already! And I like thrillers.

    This is a very exciting beginning. I guess it is a good idea to start with action, but maybe you should reveal more about the character so readers can actually care about the fact that he might be about to die. Since we don't know anything about him, it doesn't really make us bite our fingernails and hope for the best. Maybe to do this you can explain more about how the character is doing this to help people in the town? Just a suggestion.

    Good luck!

  8. Your title reminded me of "So I Married an Axe-Murderer," which was a comedy. I expected this to be funny.

    Good description of the setting and drawing us into the action, although I'd like to know more about the MC in the first 250 words. I really, really hope that this isn't "OK, now that he's about to kill me, let's jump back to when it all began." But that's just my personal preference.

  9. I don't think you've yet found your opening. This is a great, cinematic action scene, but without knowing why your main character is there, where "there" is, or who your main character is, there aren't currently enough stakes to give this scene the tension it needs.

    Give us a little exposition to ground ourselves in first. Introduce us to the main character and let us get a feel for the voice. Then we'll be better prepared to follow on his/her adventure.