Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #35

TITLE: Secrets
GENRE: YA Contemporary with Magical Realism

I stare out the window of Chelsea's VW Bug on our way into the school parking lot and wonder what disasters senior year will bring.

Chelsea takes a hard left. "Did you hear what Logan Spenser did yesterday?"

Good thing I have my seat belt on or I'd be on the floor. "No, and I don't care." Oh God, here he comes. Yes, he's past gorgeous, if there is such a thing.

He roars across the pavement, leans out of the window of his convertible, and points his finger at me. "Raz Rinaldi! Thief."

"Thief? You're calling me a thief?" I stare at him and remember the word for what's past gorgeous. It's outrageous.

My face gets hotter while I tick through my actions of the last week and find the worst thing I've done is "forget" to do the dishes my stepmother left in the sink. "What's he talking about?"

Chelsea, AKA Speed Demon of Ash City High, and the closest thing I have to a friend, shrugs and then laughs. "It's destiny. The hottest guy in school knows your name."

I love Chelsea, but she gets everything wrong. "Like I care?"

Chelsea laughs. "You are one boring chick. I can't think of one reason why I like you."

"You like me because I tolerate your crazy driving and your cheerleader—."

Logan blots out my last word with a honk from his horn. Half the drivers pulling in toot theirs because they can't get into a parking spot fast enough


  1. I thought you might want to simplify the opening line and add in the destination later, i.e., I stare out the window of Chelsea's VW Bug (on our way into the school parking lot) and wonder...bring. I think this will keep the focus on Raz and her concern about the coming year. The info about the location could be included in the 'Chelsea takes a hard left' paragraph.

    Logan calling Raz a thief got my interest, but I was a bit unclear about the logistics of the scene. After Logan points at Raz and calls her a thief, what does he do? Idle beside Chelsea's car or vroom off? I wasn't sure if Raz was actually directing her comments to Logan. If so, is her window open? Can he hear her over his car engine? When Logan honked his horn, I wasn't sure if his car was next to Chelsea's or if he'd moved on. I think adding in a few details would ground the scene.

  2. I love Raz's voice and how she describes Chelsea. I'm also interested in the scene. the boy yelling "thief" got my attention.

    My only concern is that I was confused a lot about what was physically happening in the scene. For example, when Chelsea takes a hard left is she turning into the parking lot? Or is she turning into a parking space? When she spies the boy coming toward her, it's not immediately clear he's in a car and that Chelsea's car is still moving. After he yells at her, does he keep driving by? Does he stop? If Chelsea is driving so fast, how can the boy actually have time to yell anything at Riz? I need a lot more details to keep me oriented in this scene.

  3. The category really excites me--I'm just starting to read more magical realism.

    This line is great:
    I love Chelsea, but she gets everything wrong. "Like I care?"

    It shows voice and their relationship. It reads natural since people don't always respond directly to what's being said or asked.

    The first line with staring out the window and wondering is not quite engaging. BUT the potential is there with the comment about the disasters of senior year. Maybe work with that, for example with a visual image of what she expected to see upon arriving senior year, based on past pranks or something, or she half-expected the entire junior class to XYZ, something that shows voice and setting of your book. I think you could have a lot of fun with this, and then you are showing what she's thinking rather than telling us she's wondering. It also sheds light on your story--will senior year be a disaster? What does she fear?

    While you obviously can't get the whole plot on your first page, maybe a hint of what makes this unique and different than other books that start with characters going to school on the first day.

  4. I really enjoyed this and think it is well written. I would definitely read more. I only have one comment:

    If Raz is thinking "Oh God, here he comes" about Logan, would she have the wherewithal to respond to his accusation? It sounded like she would be more likely to shrink away.

  5. That's a cool beginning.I like the MC and the mention of being in trouble only for not doing the dishes.Nice detail.
    I could feel right away the magic realism when something from the twilight zone happened to her. I can imagine a lot of people calling her thief from now on and how horrible that must feel.Maybe you should describe her shock more like having her world turned upside down. Make it more dramatic.
    I would also suggest to say something else than "past gorgeous" because it is such a cliche. Because apparently he is going to be one of the MCs, sneak in something that will characterize him, such as wearing denim clothes or having distressed pants, something that makes him special.
    I did not like the driver to say something in the air and we don't know what it is. Maybe instead of saying "..what Logan Spenser did yesterday?" hint at what he did. For example, "Did you hear that Logan Spenser called the police [on you] yesterday?" That would really add a punch line to your hook.
    Also, Chelsea's reaction to the accusation is jarring. She comes across as uncaring and I bet many readers won't like her.But maybe you meant for her to be a minor character.
    Good luck :)

  6. I agree with the comment about setting - I was a bit confused here. When the boy yells at them, do they keep driving? Does he immediately drive off? To me it seems like he does, because the MC and Chelsea start talking again, as if he's gone, but then in your last paragraph you say that drivers are honking because he's in their way. A little clarification here would help readers visualize the scene.

    Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with the writing here, but I'm not sure I'd be hooked enough to keep reading.

  7. I like the voice, I'm a bit confused by everything going on. We're in the VW bug and then this cute guy comes out of nowhere and is leaning out of his convertible after he parks or while he's driving and Chelsea's still driving into the parking lot?

    Also the line of "past gorgeous. It's outrageous." I didn't quite get how those connected.

    I'm definitely intrigued but would just like a bit more solid ground in this initial scene to get a sense of what the narrator is anticipating.

  8. My comments would be the same as everyone else. Think about the logistics of the scene. Are they in the lot or a parking space? Is Logan still sitting beside them in his car while they discuss how hot he is? Give us a bit more detail.

    The opening sentence was a bit of a turnoff for me because she's not looking forward to the adventure of a new year at school, she's worried about disasters before she even gets there, which is fine if that's who she is, but it does make me less interested. I'd rather follow an optimist than a pessimist.

    And at the end, all I have is a girl who has been called a thief, which could be interesting, but it doesn't sound as if Logan is saying it in an accusing way, nor does she or her friend seem overly concerned about it, which makes me think that won't be the problem. So what is? I don't know, so I wouldn't read more.

  9. I was a bit confused by the logistics here. Is Logan driving alongside Chelsea's car? Are they driving through the parking lot or down a street? It seems odd Raz and Chelsea would continue their conversation while Logan is driving alongside them, ostensibly within earshot.

    Separately, I'd suggest giving us some specific details about Logan's looks, what makes him sexy and gorgeous. The words "gorgeous" and "outrageous" convey Raz's enthusiasm, but don't really conjure an image. This is something I see a lot of in y.a. queries with romantic elements- "hot" guys whose hotness the reader is expected to take as a given. How is he hot? What makes him attractive? Substantiate that claim and we'll feel Raz's push-and-pull feelings along with her.

  10. While this is a nice scene about the first day of senior year, I need more than the hot guy calling the "nice girl" MC a thief to pique my interest.

    I agree with the comments about not knowing where everyone and their cars are.

    "Good thing I have my seat belt on or I'd be on the floor" sounds like a reaction to what Cheslea says, since it comes right after it.

    She thinks Logan is gorgeous, but doesn't care that "the hottest guy in school" knows her name? (But I do like this line: I love Chelsea, but she gets everything wrong. "Like I care?")

    It's minor, but the last line puzzled me. "Half the drivers pulling in toot theirs because they can't get into a parking spot fast enough" Why? Are they late? Are they scrambling to get a space before someone else does? Are they scrambling to get out of Logan's way? And why would any of those reasons cause them to toot their horns?