Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #19

TITLE: Perfect Enemies
GENRE: YA Mystery

Amy Brooks, the best-loved senior at Hollywood Arts Academy, lay face down beside the porcelain throne, strands of wavy red hair glued to the vomit beneath her waxen cheek.

Someone shrieked right beside my ear, startling me so much I jumped and banged my knee into the stall frame.

“What’s wrong with her? Oh, Ivy, is she dead?” Shayna Roberts moaned.

Shayna was the second most popular girl in our class. Not so loved.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I just came in here.” I edged closer to Amy’s spread-eagled body, resisting the impulse to pull her denim mini down over her tanned tushie. Should I check her pulse? The one green eye I could see was kind of bloodshot and staring.

“I think she’s gone,” I said, my stomach contracting with horror. How could that be? In Mr. Morton’s screenwriting class two periods ago, she’d been fine, entertaining us as usual with her trademark friendly sass. A wave of dizziness hit me and I bent over, resting my hands on my knees and trying to breathe.

Shayna shrieked again, shaking her butterscotch blonde ringlets and stamping her Jimmy Choo suede ankle boot hard on the tile floor. “How could she do this?” She covered her face and began to sob.

Wow. I didn’t know she even liked Amy.

Her sobs came to a shuddering halt and she pouted, full pink lips trembling. One perfect crystal tear rolled down her cheek. “How could she ruin my big party?”


  1. A pretty strong start--I get the vibe, and right away something is happening.

    Someone wise once said to me, resist the urge to have your characters ask questions about their feelings or the plot. Sure, we read this all the time ("how can this be?") but I've found almost every instance, removing it or rephrasing to an active description or showing a character reaction is almost always stronger.

    My other nitpick: with Shayna, maybe stick with one descriptor at a time; the butterscotch ringlets and the Jimmy Choos feel a bit much when we have a dead girl on the floor. Put the detail where we should focus, which really shouldn't be Shayna.

    Nice start--good luck!

  2. I thought the writing here was pretty tight and flowed really well. It's a really intriguing setup and a good start for the mystery.

    While we know something now about both the dead girl and the 2nd queen bee, I don't really know much about the MC--she's mostly just observing it seems. One thing that struck me is a lack of much dismay or emotion or shock on the part the MC upon finding the body. She has those reactions after she realizes she's really dead, but there's no panic in the beginning... it's fairly clinical. Maybe that's how the MC is, though. Just food for thought.

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  4. Powerful beginning. Maybe too powerful. Someone is dead. How are you going to follow it? I'd suggest a more gradual beginning. Show the dead girl as her sassy self. Show the number two as her ego-centric self. Often, a hint at something dire can go farther than the deadly act.

    Good luck.

  5. If this is a mystery, and the mystery is who killed Amy Brooks, then starting with her death may not be a bad thing. On the other hand, if you start with her alive, you get a chance to show some of her relationships with others, i.e. who likes her and doesn't, which sets up possible killers, as well as motives. So it may be something to think about.

    It might also help with you MC's characterization if we saw a bit more of her reactions to things, as well as what she thinks about things.

  6. I liked the swing of emotions in this opening scene. First the reader is mildly shocked by the vomit an then it escalates when we discover she's dead, only to be outraged that Shayna is only thinking about her party. There's a lot going on, the characters are clear and the decription is well handel ..'one perfect crystal tear...' I'd definitely want to read more and find out what happened to Amy and why Shayna is so outrageously self-centered.

  7. I like the sudden start of the story. I definitely wanted to read more. It would be nice to know a bit about the MC but overall I feel like this is a strong effort. Good job.