Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #31

TITLE: This Is It
GENRE: YA Contemporary

I am no modern day Juliet, and yet, here I stand, perched on my balcony, the cold New England air curling around me, caressing me in its cold embrace. Below me stands Romeo - two Romeos, actually. Of course, they aren't my Romeos, though they would make some Juliet very happy. And if they aren't my Romeos, then I am not Juliet, and I'm leaning out my window, not standing on some grand balcony.

Instead, I am just me, their closest female friend, their surrogate little sister, the girl they come to with their problems. I'm fine with this role - I've held it for years - but that isn't to say I wouldn't mind having my very own Romeo standing below my window, waiting for the chance to spend even a moment with me.

“Sadie!” Ethan calls, smiling up at me while Drew bounces around in what I gather is an attempt to stay warm. The rocks in the driveway grate against each other as he jumps, and I find myself glad that my neighbors aren’t home right now so that Drew can’t drive them crazy with the noise.

“What are you two doing? It’s freezing out here,” I whisper, my breath floating out in front of me like a cloud.

“We want to go for a walk downtown and grab some coffee,” Ethan explains, his hand cupped around his mouth like a megaphone. Drew nods, adding a plaintive, “Please hurry before I freeze!”


  1. I really like this! I love the scene and the characters you've created. The writing is clear and easy to follow, and I can see the conflict coming. Nice job! My only two comments: the plaintive "Please hurry before I freeze!" doesn't sound like a typical teenage boy to me (though maybe that fits with his personality). And it seems the neighbors would be more bothered by Ethan's yelling than by Drew's disturbing the rocks on the driveway, were they at home. Good luck!

  2. This is very well written. I am already invested in Sadie.

    Does Sadie know the actual story of Romeo and Juliet and how tragic it is and that Juliet was only twelve?

    I love Sadie's predicament of being relegated to the role of best friend. Very well done and already sets up her relationship with the boys.

    With the excellent writing, I expected there to be more of a hook by the time I finished this entry. But in the end the boys just want to go for coffee? The pace slowed down when Sadie started talking.

    I was confused that Ethan yelled but Sadie is whispering. Wouldn't she admonish Ethan? I also didn't understand Drew's jumping. Is he just hopping up and down? That is very different from bouncing.

    Why would the noise of the rocks worry her more than Ethan yelling? I think this can be solved by simply shortening the sentence about being glad the neighbors aren't home.

    Nice work. Would read more for sure. I hope something more than going for coffee happens soon!

  3. Katharine, thanks! It is Drew-like - he's a special snowflake. In my head, he's a straight-Nolan-from-Revenge, sort of :) And that is a great point, thanks!!

    Laura, thanks! The R&J stuff hit me a couple weeks ago and I rewrote the first few paragraphs, but of course I know they aren't really something to aspire to and I've been thinking over how to fix that particular bit. It's all great stuff, definitely tons of stuff to think about!

    Thanks you two!!

  4. Sold. I love the voice and the character that's coming through right from the get-go. I'd keep on without even questioning it.

    I figure anything to do with language that makes me think "too old" for them at this point will likely flow into character later on.
    I don't know why, but I'm not a fan of "adding a plaintive". Maybe it just doesn't feel YA to me, or maybe it's my own little quirk.

    That's my only critique.

  5. I like your voice but felt there were a number of places where the prose could use a trim. Though I love the start of the opening sentence, I thought it lost impact near the end. Perhaps choose either 'the cold New England air curling around me' OR 'the cold New England air caressing me...' rather than using both.

    Suggest trimming: (Of course) They aren't my Romeos...' And, to avoid repetition of 'my Romeos', perhaps: And if they aren't (my Romeos) mine, then I am not Juliet.' I suggest inserting a period here and starting a new sentence -- otherwise it sounds like she leans out a window rather than stands on a balcony because they are her Romeos. Perhaps: (and) Besides, I'm leaning...balcony.

    Other 'filler' I thought could be trimmed to keep the pace and prose strong:
    -(Instead) I'm just me, their...
    -(I find myself) I'm glad (that) my (that) Drew...

    I wanted some sort of clue as to why Sadie whispers rather than speaks at full voice like her friends. Is she trying not to wake someone?

    Like I said above, the voice here is fresh and fun. I would keep reading.

  6. You have created a fantastic scene in this opening. I love Sadie's voice.

    The one part that I didn't believe is when Sadie whispered. Would she even be heard considering Ethan had to yell.

  7. I like this... a lot actually, but I think you could condense some of those first two paragraphs. A little too much mention of Juliet and Romeo and while I get the sense that this is going to be an adorable romance, the first two paragraphs just seemed to echo some of the same thoughts over and over.

    Also, watch the "I am" and dialogue like this: "We want to go for a walk downtown and grab some coffee." Teens contract practically everything. And I picture a teenage boy barking out a quick order rather than this elongated one.

    Other than that, I'm curious to see where this goes. Good luck!

  8. Thank you all so much! I might love all of you :) Wrote down all the notes so far and working on more revising!

  9. There's a cute voice here and I wouldn't mind reading more from her POV, but I'd like a little more forward movement in this opening. I don't think it should take two paragraphs to say she's not Juliet. It's a nice opening, and gives a hint about what she's looking for (even though R & J is a tragedy, not a romance, but I get where you're going with this), but you could probably do that in 2-3 sentences.

    Also, you use "cold" twice in the first sentence.

    With a little bit of tightening, I think this could be a great opening page. Good luck!

  10. I thought you could cut the first two parg's. You take two sentences to tell us who she is and where she is, and then you use a few more to say, 'No, I'm not." It seems the point you're trying to make is that she wishes she was, so maybe just say that instead.

    The rest is well-written, but aside from the feeling this will turn into a romance, I've no hint of where there is going, if it'll be more than that. There's nothing that pulls me in.

  11. Thanks everyone!! I wrote out a new beginning last night that popped into my head as I was making dinner. No R&J references. I don't know if I'm allowed to put it here so I guess I'll just hang onto it :D

    Working on my query as well - it was critiqued in Querypalooza on the Pub Crawl blog.

    <3 !!