Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #41

TITLE: Stairway to the Past
GENRE: YA Time travel

Jason swore as he jabbed his hand with the screwdriver he was using as a lock pick. “This looks so easy on TV,” he mumbled as he sucked the wounded hand. No blood. Well, that was something. He tossed the screwdriver to the floor and sat back on his heels.

“I suppose I ought to wait for the locksmith, like Mom said.” He rocked on his heels for a moment, staring at the locked door. He’d told Mom and Dad they shouldn’t buy such an old house. Things in an old house were so….old. Down the hall, his bedroom, with some of his things still packed, was calling.

“Nah! Going to drive me crazy.” Grabbing the screwdriver again, he tackled the lock once more. The click echoed in the empty hallway and Jason jumped to his feet, fist pumping his success.

The door handle turned slowly with a B movie screech, but the door barely opened.

“I thought Mom said she’d get someone in here to open it. You better not break it or you’ll be in trouble.”

Jason hadn’t heard his younger brother, Tyler, come up the stairs.

“You’ll be in trouble if you don’t get out of here,” said Jason, through clenched teeth. Then he stopped. His brother was probably as bored and lonely as he was. More so, since Tyler had always been more of an extrovert and had many friends back in Richmond. “Look. I’m not going to break anything.

11 comments:

  1. Interesting opening. I don't know anything about lock picking, but I'd love to see some more details. What exactly is he searching for inside the lock to force it open?

    I think I'd prefer if Jason were thinking to himself; voicing his thoughts aloud when he doesn't know anyone else is there seems a bit strange. I'd also like to see him have a bigger reaction to suddenly hearing a voice that he didn't expect to -- a jump, a yell of surprise, something like that.

    Best of luck to you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with Katrina's comments. Talking out loud to himself is strange. Then when the brother makes a comment, I still thought it was the mc. perhaps there is a better way to show this is someone else talking now.

    also, i thought he was locked out of his house, but then he's in the hall. perhaps more of a sense of the setting to show he's inside the house trying to get in somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The situation in this excerpt is intriguing, and I'd read a few more pages to see what was behind the door.

    The voice here sounds more middle grade than YA to me. The concern about breaking Mom's rules, the talking out loud to himself -- these things remind me of a preteen or young teen boy versus an older one. But toward the end, identifying Tyler as an extrovert seems like a more adult voice creeping through. Maybe these things are hallmarks of his character, but in this first page they seem inconsistent.

    Good luck with this! I'm always interested in a good time travel story.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It would be nice to get a grounding of the setting a bit sooner. First he's picking a lock, which could mean anywhere. Then his mom told him to wait for a locksmith so I'm thinking maybe he's locked out of the house. But then his bedroom is "down the hall" so now I'm just confused. It's not till the end of the page we find out they've just moved...

    ReplyDelete
  5. While you start with an interesting premise, I feel a little lost in this scene. Can you give me a frame of reference? Perhaps, "we'd only lived in the new house a few days, and I was dying to know what was behind the locked door." I'm sure you can write it better, but I need to be grounded in the setting so I can get my bearings in the story.

    Also if he's picking the lock, but not supposed to, wouldn't he be checking his surroundings occasionally to make sure he doesn't get caught?

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think you've got an interesting premise for a story, but agree with some of the other comments about needing a bit more grounding. We need to know the stakes first, before we can get fully engaged in the story. What is it about this door that makes Jason so determined to open it? Is there something weird going on that has unleashed his curiosity? (and thereby your readers, too). Or is it more a show of his personality, impatient for a locksmith?

    Also, a few nitpicky things - The first sentence is a little long. Be careful of using the same word close together. You've used "on his heels" twice. You could delete "door" before handle so you don't use door twice in one sentence. I love "B movie screech".

    I think you've done a good job showing Jason's personality and would definitely read more!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really like how this starts out. It's intriguing and I think readers will definitely relate to things that look easier on television but are so much harder in real life.

    I felt like I was getting into the head of your character, but the pace seemed to drop off when he started talking about where they had come from. Perhaps you could bring this in later in relation to an actual even in your story - for example, the brother gets a call from a friend back in Richmond.

    I'm really curious to know what's going to happen to the brothers in their new home, what's going to make them time travel and how they are going to do it. I'd read more.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I really like how this starts out. It's intriguing and I think readers will definitely relate to things that look easier on television but are so much harder in real life.

    I felt like I was getting into the head of your character, but the pace seemed to drop off when he started talking about where they had come from. Perhaps you could bring this in later in relation to an actual even in your story - for example, the brother gets a call from a friend back in Richmond.

    I'm really curious to know what's going to happen to the brothers in their new home, what's going to make them time travel and how they are going to do it. I'd read more.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like the character of Jason, picking a lock as the opening. He seems smart and willing to take risks. I also like the character of an old house that seems unfamiliar and daunting. When Jason comments that his brother is an extrovert, it tells me he's smarter than maybe his family knows. I would read more because he's the character that would discover the mystery of the house.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I like the idea of opening with a kid picking a lock, but it didn't seem quit complete. I think Katrina is right, a bit of detail could fix it. And, I agree that talking out loud when no one is around threw me.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love time travel books, and I’m guessing that this old house is going to have something to do with that – all good stuff! I did get confused in some of this – I picture someone picking a lock from the outside of the house, but he’s inside? Why is the part of the house he lives in locked? Did they just move there? If so, why aren’t his parents or the previous owners there with the keys? As the passage goes on, I was also unclear on why he’s annoyed with his brother. Does Jason need to talk to himself out loud? This felt a bit clunky to me.

    ReplyDelete