Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Ingenicide
GENRE: YA light scifi

On the morning of my Commencement, I’m eating breakfast in the car when the radio broadcaster tacks 461 more deaths onto the growing May Massacres’ list.

“Us,” I tell my dad, finding that I can’t bring myself to finish my toast. “That’s us that the Normals are killing.”

“Not for you to worry,” says Dad as he parks in the School’s lot. He reaches over to ruffle my hair. “Cheer up, little bird. Press forward with what you know best and put your faith in the authorities.”

I trust Dad, from the lilt of this voice when he says little bird to his long fingers. Even so, I can’t help but glance at the Normal volunteers who hand out programs. You’re killing us, I think, think as the words “thank you” leave my lips.

That’s what we do as Ingenia—press forward and trust others to do their jobs well.

Later, when I’m sitting with the rest of the graduates, my hand begins to dampen, causing my diploma to warp. A drop of sweat slips down my back, tickling my skin. But like the rows and rows of Peers before me, I sit still. Out of politeness, we wait for the head Mentor to finish his speech.

You don’t really need to hear the words when you have lived them, but I hear them all the same, and when he finishes, I’m the last one to rise. Mindy, who’s sitting next to me, snatches my cap and waves it in front of my face.


  1. This is really intriguing, but a little more explanation would pull me in deeper.

    Does her new "graduate" status allow her to coexist safely with the Normals? If so, it would be helpful to mention it. It struck me as odd that a Normal volunteer was helping at the graduation, when in the opening we learn they are killing the mc's people.

    The diploma warping seemed to happen very fast -- it would have to be truly drenched, which generally happens a bit more slowly. Perhaps she clutches it tightly in the last paragraph, crushing it, which would show how angry she is about the disparity between the Normals and her people, and that she has mixed feeling about the graduation.

    One thought would be that her nose itches and sweat slips down her back -- which would highlight the discipline and difficulty in remaining motionless.

    The last paragraph is a bit vague. Perhaps explain the gist of what the Mentor said (Obey all Normal rules, check in monthly with your Normal Assimilation Leader -- whatever it is that makes her race the underdogs).

    Interesting premise! Best wishes with this.

  2. Though this isn't my cup of tea, it's well structured. A couple of suggestions,

    o Consider adding High School before Commencement to immediately establish the age. This could be college or high school.

    o I don't think there should be an apostrophe after Massacres.

    o I was also a little confused when this person calls herself both an Ingenia, and a Peer.

  3. I feel like I need the query to really get a sense of what is going on. Otherwise, this is a lot of Proper Nouns that obviously Mean Something but without context lead to some conceptual soup.

    A few things did jump out at me:
    -- is this set in England and/or are you British? "little bird" and the lilt of her father's voice say "British" to me. This isn't a problem if this is set in England (or Australia, etc.) but if it's set in the U.S./Canada with American characters, that would give me pause.
    -- personally I think just Commencement is fine. It's YA so we know it would be high school or the equivalent thereof.
    -- You say your MC doesn't really need to hear the words when she's lived it but she hears them anyway... then you don't let the reader hear them. Especially when I don't know what Ingenia is or what your set-up is, it would be a nice little slice-of-life introduction if we heard a snippet of the speech.

    I'm intrigued by your "MC as Other in oppressive society" so I would read on, though I would cut down on the rampant capitalization in the first 250, if you can. (School seemed unnecessary)

  4. In agreement with the above comments and I'll just add it's a great start...
    Suggestion- capitalize Authorities

  5. I really like this opening. My suggestions are almost verbatim what skywriter mentioned above, so I'll skip repeating them.

    The line, "You're killing us, I think, think as the words..." felt a bit awkward with the repetition of "think." I'd switch out the second "think" to "even." I wanted to know what the Mentor was saying that made the MC want to phase out, as mentioned above.

    I would read on for sure. Good luck!

  6. I don't quite get what's going on here but the line - press on and trust others to do their job well -intrigues me.

    I do wonder why it's slightly different from what her dad said - Press forward with what you know best and put your faith in the authorities - since they don't exactly mean the same thing. Is the MC just paraphrasing further down, or is there a reason behind the changed words? Perhaps make that answer evident.

    I do think we should know what the speaker said, and I'd like to know why the MC doesn't rise. Daydreaming? Defiance?

    I'd read more, so push on and do what you know best.

  7. This is a great start and I'd definitely read more. I second the idea to cut the second think though. ;-)

  8. This seems interesting, but I feel like it could use a little more description to set up the world / main characters. Does the "little bird" comment from her dad have something to do with her being an Ingenia? Is she hiding amongst regular students at graduation or other Ingenia? I felt a little lost.

  9. You have a lot happening in these first 250, and it might help to break up the various reveals so they come later on in your opening chapter. The fact that your main character is graduating is a big deal – I would love to see some more of her thoughts about that. Is she nervous? It seems just like a regular morning from the way she talks about eating breakfast and driving to school with her dad. I’m very interested in the line her dad feeds her about “pressing forward with what you know best.” Is this some sort of mantra that she (and other Ingenia) live by? The “Normals” are an intriguing enemy, but there seems to be too much to unpack in order to understand them here. I wasn’t sure where to focus with so many different people (your MC’s dad, Mindy, the Mentor) and story-specific terms being introduced.