Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #25

GENRE: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Kat chewed on her pen and studied her tutor’s bent head. Ashley's shiny black hair was pulled back into a ponytail, held in place by a…scrunchie.

Seriously? Was that really a sparkly teal scrunchie? Kat bit down harder on her pen in concentration. Did they even sell those anymore? The last time she'd seen one, she'd been six and wrapped it around her side ponytail, pretending to be Kelly Kapowski while watching Saved By the Bell reruns.

Ashley droned on about something, and Kat yawned. She looked down at her notes but some of the words blurred, increasing her headache, so she gazed around the library. Through the windows, the late-January wind rattled the bare trees.

“Kat? Did you hear me?” Ashley’s voice needled into her ear.

Kat snapped her head back. “Um…yeah?”

Ashley slumped her shoulders with a sigh. “Look, I’m going to be honest here. I like you, okay? But I don’t think you're getting anything out of these sessions. I think my time would be better spent with someone else.”

Kat opened her mouth but then snapped her jaw shut. It wasn't like she hadn't heard it before. Her inability to stay focused had annoyed plenty of tutors. Not to mention just about everyone else in her life. She jutted out her chin with as much confidence as she could muster. She’d find another tutor.

“I think that’s a good idea, Ashley. I had planned to say the same thing.” The lie came easily.


  1. I'm puzzled why she wants another tutor at all, considering how little effort & interest she's put into this. Maybe that's in the next 250 words. :)

  2. I like the last line. I'm intrigued by the idea that she can lie so easily, and I would hope that it is an key part of the story, since it seems so interesting! However, I was a little bored by the rest of the scene. I wonder if there is a way you can present her as a liar that is more exciting? Something that will draw the reader in a bit more? The writing is good, I just wonder if there is a better scene to start out with.

    Good luck!

  3. I agree with Julie. This doesn't seem like your destined beginning, cheesy as that sounds. Maybe find a scene that has more action from Kat?

  4. I love this opening because you see so much of Kat in it: the zoning out, the attention to the scrunchie, the need to lie to save face, the confidence, and so much more.

    I love Kat.

  5. This worked for me, mostly. I liked the way Kat was distracted by a small thing like a teal scrunchie, and her mind could pinpoint very accurately when she had seen one last but couldn't concentrate on what she was supposed to be learning.

    I liked the subtlety of the wind in the January trees, which signaled a change coming.

    I liked Ashley's voice needling into her ear.

    I liked that we know her problem, that she has a hard time focusing.

    I also liked the hint about lying.

    Consider adding a tiny bit to say what she is having such a hard time focusing on in the scene. From the title, I'd guess it is math. Be specific. For example a geometry problem. The grids and wavering lines adding to her headache.

    There was also something off with the sequence of her actions. She chews her pen. Then she bites down harder to concentrate. Then she yawns. Then she looks at her notes. If I were the tutor, as soon as Kat yawned, I would have reacted in some way. The tutor carries on until Kat looks around the room. That feels off to me, since the tutor was clearly frustrated enough to quit. I think I would delay that yawn until she starts looking around the room, which initiates the tutors reaction.

  6. It’s great to see the main character’s flaws straight away. We know that she’s struggling in a class, and that she’s not confident or focused in her abilities. The line about the lie coming easily is nice, because it creates curiosity about what other lies she’s telling.

  7. This works for me because it's clear that Kat's focus is the issue. Her attention is pulled in different directions so easily, and she lets us know this is a common problem. The last line really sells it, that this is something Kat has dealt with before and that she tries to pretend it doesn't bother her.

  8. I thought his was well written, but I'm unsure of what I should be taking away from it. She's making a big deal of a scrunchie, which shows her as small and petty, she's gone through several tutors and doesn't seem to be making any effort to learn, so why have a tutor? Are her parents forcing them on her? Does she have to pass math in order to play a sport? And then she lies about it, which I can see, because it takes some the 'stupid' onus off her. She's just not particularly likable and I don't see where it's going. What is the problem? hhhh