Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #43

TITLE: The Sea Star
GENRE: New Adult

“Daddy’s dead.”

“What’d you say?” Twelve year old Samantha Stuart whisked her shoulder length auburn hair out of her green eyes as if it were fire ants scrabbling across her forehead. She grabbed her five year old sister Kate by the shoulders. Her short, blonde bangs flickered around her cherub face from the grab. The baby blue eyes behind those bangs grew large as quarters as she stared up into her sister’s angry face.

“I said Daddy’s...”

“Don’t you ever say that to me again.” Samantha, red-faced, squeezed Kate’s shoulders.

“You’re hurting me!” Kate squinched up her mouth, in pain, and tried to wrench free. “Mommy! Samantha’s hurting me!”

May Stuart opened the screen door.

“What’s going on, now, you two?”

“Nothing.” Samantha released her sister, but with a parting pinch. She crossed her arms and glared at Kate. If her gaze had been an open hand, it would have slapped her sister off the deck steps. “Kate and I were just…talking.” She chewed the words like she had a mouth full of sugarless skittles.

“It would be great if y’all would get along at least some of the time.” Their mother, makeup free, as she had been ever since the accident and her dirty blonde hair pulled back off her forehead in a pony tail, shook her head and slammed the door behind her.

Samantha leaned forward to within inches of Kate’s face, but made sure to whisper.

“You’re a little twerp.”

Kate turned up her nose and grinned.

“You’re a big twerp.”


  1. With characters being 12yo and 5yo it seem that this would be MG and not NA. I would keep reading to see who is delivering the news to the young girl. Good Luck!

  2. This has some potential with one claiming that their daddy is dead and the other vehemently denying it; however, this page, particularly the first paragraph is drowning in descriptions. Sometimes less is more, and this page will be stronger if you pare back.

  3. I do also question if NA is correct as the ages of the girls seems more MG. Unless this is a flashback or something, I'd consider changing the genre.

    The first paragraph was a bit too much description for the first paragraph. Sometimes less is more, and I think the 1st paragraph would benefit from that.

    I do like the sentence..."If her gaze had been an open hand, it would have slapper her sister off the deck steps." I thought that was a creative use of showing and not telling.:)

    I don't entirely understand how she can chew her words like she had a mouthful of sugarless skittles.

  4. I'm guessing this is a flashback before the start of the story; Samantha is probably thinking back to an event that triggered change in her life. It's always tough to critique on a prologue for that reason, we aren't seeing where the story starts.

    This also feels more like the middle scene of a book rather than an opening. The violence kind of threw me off so early due to the lack of context. I think this relates to the story not starting in the best place. I would have liked to see the actual start of the story to judge better.

    For me, the physical appearance descriptions seemed forced, that they exist for the reader rather than shown organically through the story. The whisking and fire ants descriptor read melodramatic to me; whisked and fire ants don't correlate. I'm now thinking her head is scorching like ants are biting, and why am I even thinking this?!

    Be mindful of cliches: baby blue, cherub face, even dirty blonde hair... these are things we've all read before. I think when those details feel needed, then the descriptions can speak for themselves beyond cliches. For example if the character reflected on how even though they were sisters with matching green eyes and fair skin, their lives couldn't have been more different.

    Good luck!

  5. I like this story so far! I agree with the other comments. You have your whole story to add descriptions. There's no need to stuff them into the first page.
    I wonder if there's another way to add the ages? They seem out of place. Could the mom say, "She's only five." as part of her scolding?
    I love the powerful impact of starting with "Daddy's dead." I wonder if you could say, Kate looked at her older sister. "Daddy's dead." (Or something. That takes away the awkward part "she grabbed her five year old sister "
    The sentence describing their mother seems long.
    What about. Their mother rubbed her naked face. She had worn no makeup since the accident. Then she pulled her hair back into a ponytail, shook her head and slammed the door.
    I love Kate so far! I can just see a cute, little five year old! I especially love how she grins at the end even when her sister was so angry.
    Great work so far! Best of luck.

  6. The writing is strong, but we’re not sure why we’re reading about twelve-year-olds if the book is new adult. A prologue maybe? Or a flashback? If the entire manuscript is this way then we doubt it is New Adult. The “twerp” name calling back and forth bit is great, since it’s exactly something sisters would say! But if the main character’s father is dead, is she really thinking up complicated comparisons for how her sister’s hair moves? We would like more emotion. And there are grammar and spelling errors.

  7. I liked the opening line. It drew me right in.

    The 2nd parg is full of unnecessary description. At this stage, it doesn't matter what color hair and eyes people have, (actually, it almost never matters). If you're going to describe someone, show who they are as a person, and work that in through dialogue and action. In this case here, I'd suggest cutting all that.

    And I didn't think Kate should be smiling when she calls the MC a big twerp. She's 5 and has her 12 year old sister yelling at her, shaking her. glaring at her. threatening her and calling her names. It seems more likely she'd say the MC was a twerp with anger or maybe fear or a combination of both, both not in a smartass way.

  8. I was definitely grabbed in this entry, but wasn't sure how to feel about it: should I be panicked that someone is dead? Or is this all just a joke? When a mention is made of an accident, I become more confused.

    The imagery is nice as well, but in a couple of parts, it's overwhelming. For example, this paragraph--> "Nothing.." I go from one image to another: parting pinch to open hand to off the deck steps to chewing words to sugarless skittles. All wonderful, but in one gulp, I'm bowled over by it.

    Good luck with this manuscript and I wish you the best!