Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #27

GENRE: YA Magical Realism

Grease is the word.

The cast list goes up after first period drama, and I would have the best junior year ever if Mr. Fonda cast me in the role of Sandy. I don’t drink or swear. And, for the love of Fosse, I never rat my hair. It’s always in a tight ponytail, thank you very much. I mean, I probably look more like Patty Simcox than I do Sandy, but that’s why there’s blond hair dye. I spin a circle as I arrive at my locker. I cannot wait to see the cast list!

I'm two swivels into my locker's combination when my brother’s body slams into it. Axl curses and I gasp as Michael Titan shoves him up against his locker. And mine.

“Mess with my girlfriend again, punk, and it’ll be your face in the toilet. Forget your friend.”

“You mess with my friends, I screw yours, a******.” Axl winks at Cassidy French, Michael’s girlfriend of the month (okay, two months and thirteen days—so annoying). “She do that swirly thing with her tongue to you too? God, so hot.” He gestures with his tongue at Cassidy in a most revolting way. She merely files her nails with an invisible emery board. Like anything’s more fascinating than the imminent fight between my brother and my crush of the century.

Michael squares his shoulders. His very broad shoulders. “You can shut your mouth now. Punk.”

“Make me.” Axl blows a spike of hair off his forehead. “Dick.”


  1. Love the voice in the opening paragraph, but then you take us into an entirely different subplot and I've lost interest.

  2. I really like the first bit about Grease. I love the hints at the song Sandra D. It's a fun way to start. I think the spin a circle takes away from that. It doesn't really feel like it belongs.

    Why isn't the narrator doing something to stop the fight? I know it's her crush but shouldn't she be concerned that her brother is going to fight him? Maybe that will come in the next little bit.

    Nice way to start!

  3. I agree with the above about loving the Grease aspect, but it did feel like quite a shift from that to the fight. Also, while she describes the fight, it's like the MC disappears. It's happening, but what is she doing? Is she still opening her locker? Is she standing aghast?

    And why the heck does she like this Michael guy? He is very off putting.

    Answers I'm sure will come shortly, likely in the next 250.

  4. I don't want to be an echo, but I agree with the comments above. The beginning is interesting, with fun references to Grease, but it all sort of falls apart after that. Micheal's character is very unappealing. And the 'swirly tongue' line is just plain icky. I don't really want to spend any more time with Axl, Cassidy or Micheal, and there isn't a real hook yet, so I have to say I'd probably stop reading here.

  5. The shift from a fun, light-hearted, day-dreamy feeling to harsh anger and violence is too abrupt for me.

  6. I just wanted to chime in to say that I didn't find the juxtaposition too jarring. To me, it was a nice way to show the dreamy, happy, optimistic MC and then the chaos that her brother brings into her life. I will say that I got a little confused with everything that was happening with Michael and Axl and Cassidy. Consider just slowing the pace down a little so we don't get lost. Finally, I love Grease! I'm so glad you're writing about it. Good luck!

  7. I loved the opening. Lots of fun. The fight is jarring, but I could get past that if you'd slow it down a bit so I'm not so confused, and it you didn't lose the MC in the process. What is the MC thinking during this fight? What is she doing? Also, who is Cassidy and how did she end up close enough to the MC and this fight that Axl could wink at her? That whole paragraph with Cassidy is very confusing to me.

  8. This has a very Sophie Kinsella vibe to it and I really like it. I would enjoy hanging out with this character for a few hundred pages. I'm not sure that the average teen will know who Fosse, Sandy and Patty Simcox are, so those references may be lost on them, which isn't the best way to open a novel. I've seen Grease and I know who Fosse is, but even I had to look up Patty.

    The rest was smooth and fun and already shows conflict and goals and voice. Nicely done.

  9. I enjoyed the beginning, but felt the dialogue and actions in the scuffle between her brother and Michael unrealistic.

    Nobody uses the word punk in high school. Also be careful that you don't have your readers not like your MC because she's crushing on a jerk.

  10. I didn't find the sudden switch jarring and thought the events were plausible. I did wonder why, though, she's watching this guy beat on her brother and isn't doing anything about it. And might it not change her opinion of Michael Titan?

    But as someone else said, there doesn't seem to be a hook yet. She'll find out soon enough whether she got the part or not, so that's not something to pin the whole novel on. And if it's will she and Michael ever get together, that's not all that compelling, especially in light of the person he seems to be.

  11. Great YA voice. I didn't mind the fight.

    Love "I'm two swivels into..." but it sounds like the brother slammed into the combination. Maybe: I'm one combination swivel from getting into my locker, when my brother’s body slams into it.

    Need to attribute the mess with girlfriend line. Maybe an action? Michael gets right into Axl's face. (Or something)

    Axl says all that while pinned against a locker? And where did Cassidy come from?

    You might need another description before the wink. Does Michael release him a little or is Axl still pinned to the locker?

    "He gestures with his tongue at Cassidy in a most revolting way" is kind of telly. Maybe a more descriptive verb instead of "gestures"? Flicks his tongue at/licks his tongue toward Cassidy? And instead of telling us it's revolting, describe it: "...which makes me feel 'ew' inside." (Or something.) That gets the MC back into the scene and gives you an opportunity to put in another reaction from her about what's going on, and maybe to give us a hint that this Michael is something other than just a brute. Or have her wonders why she's so attracted to a brute.

    I liked this a lot (though I don't particularly like the title). Good job!

  12. Personally, I enjoyed the juxtaposition between the Grease element and the fight. I'd expect Axl’s trouble-making will continue to barge into his sister’s life. She doesn't want any part of this fight, and it's jarring arrival during her fantasy makes us sympathize with her.

    I did wonder at the coincidence of Michael slamming her brother into *her* locker. Might it feel a bit more realistic if she spies this fight happening a bit down the hall?

    Also, this could just be me, but "punk" feels a bit antiquated here, something an after-school-special bully might say. Especially compared to Axl's use of the word "dick." (Also, no need to sensor curses in y.a.). A fun and gripping opening though.