Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #18

TITLE: Marked
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Lexi closed her car door and zipped her jacket as she followed her Dad into the auto shop to check on his SUV. Men in greasy overalls crowded the three work areas, while orchestrating their way around vehicles in various stages of repair. Uncle Lucas peered around the hood of his 1957 Chrysler Diablo before rounding it, his gaze trained on a stained rag as he wiped his hands. “We need to talk.”

“The truck?” Dad asked, his voice barely audible over the power tools and music.

“That, too.”

Dad and his brother were close, often huddled in private conversation. Sometimes, they invited Lexi’s younger brother to their powwows, but no matter what bodily harm she threatened the brat with, he never revealed anything. He only puffed his chest out and said, “Man stuff.”

Uncle Lucas stopped in front of Lexi, smelling like exhaust with BBQ undertones. “Enjoyed the article in your school paper about the declining wolf population.”

“Thanks. I was hoping you’d let me interview you for the next one.” Since he was a freelance wilderness guide, he’d be perfect for a follow up piece.

His wide grin crinkled the corners of his eyes. “I’d love that.” He shared her love of all things animal. It wasn’t ‘man stuff’ but it was theirs.

Uncle Lucas gestured at Dad. “Give us a minute to talk.”

“You know where to find me.”


  1. It looks like you have some interesting characters, and I like the little descriptions you drop in to help us feel like we're in the setting, the greasy overalls, stained rags, power tools, and music.

    What I don't get from this opening is a lot of tension. The "men" aren't including the girl, but that's not enough conflict to hook me into the story. Is there something she's worried about or afraid of? You don't have to drop the whole plot on us right here, but you should at least hint at what the big story problem is going to be--give us a teaser of what the story's going to be about so it can catch our interest.

    I wonder if this is where your story really starts. Is this moment in the shop where something big changes for the character and launches her on her journey? If the purpose of this scene is just to introduce characters, maybe you should jump ahead. I'm not saying to start right in the middle of an action scene, but start us with the scene that changes things for the character, and let us get to know her through her thoughts and actions in that scene.

  2. Great details! I really feel like I know where I am. I love the little family details about the uncle and little brother. That said, I feel like I'm reading the middle of a chapter, not a first page. There's all this stuff going on and it's interesting, I guess I'm just feeling like I missed a page? If that makes sense.

  3. Enjoyed this a lot. I like your voice and your writing is really good.

    Any chance you can take another look at your first sentence? The rhythm just seemed a little cluncky with "her car door" "her jacket" "her Dad" "his SUV." Can you cut closing the car door, maybe, and go right to zipping her jacket?

    The "Sometimes" sentence in the 4th par. also caught me a bit. Maybe it's just me, but the "she" and "the brat" made me go back to see what exactly it was referring to.

    I think you should have a comma after 'man stuff' before 'but it was theirs.'

    I don't mean to sound critical -- I really, really like your stuff. Your writing is enjoyable and I hope you go far with it!! Congrats!

  4. I like the writing here. The only thing I would say is that I don't have much of a feel for what the mc feels. The only part is when she threatens the younger brother for info. Otherwise, she seems very passive in this in not revealing her feelings to the reader.

    Doesn't she get angry over being snubbed by the men? Or is she so used to it that she doesn't care? I want to feel for her, but i can't do that if I don't even know what she feels.

  5. I need to get to know Lexi a better. Right now there's not enough for me to want to read on. We know she's a writer, into animals, and isn't above bulling her brother to get answers (there's no condemnation in that remark, btw. I'm an eldest sib and I approve.:)).
    But how does she feel? This is YA, so she's between 15-17, so the feels have got to be crawling out of her, right?
    How does the the shop make her feel, does the heat of the shop, the smell of hot metal and rubber coat her skin? the snubs, does the smell of BBQ make her stomach growl? Does her little brother jostle her out of the way, does she imagine doing horrible things to him like fold his Spider-Man undies in front of his buddies, etc...
    Crawl into Lexi. This is UF so that's not too disturbing of a suggestion, right?

  6. What was most compelling here came at the end, when we learn that this character is interested in the declining wolf population, and wants to talk to the wilderness guide, her uncle. I like the idea that Lexi shares this interest with him, and I’m curious to find out more about that. However, the opening felt more focused on Lexi’s father and his brother than it does on Lexi herself – for instance, there are plenty of descriptions of how the men look, but nothing about Lexi. I’d play with this, so that you shift the focus back to Lexi; feeling closer to her would make me want to read on.