Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #45

GENRE: YA Science Fiction

Violet paced under the transparent ceiling, wishing the sun would sink faster. She squinted, looking up. If only a cloud would block the sun for once. But the sky was always a painful bright blue.

It wouldn’t be long. Thirty-five minutes and 42 seconds and counting until it cooled enough before they could go. She untied the knot of purple hair on top of her head and retied it. She had tested the invention so many times; she had filled a whole notebook with the results. But she still was nervous. This was the first time she was going to climb the Globe. On the outside.


Her mother’s voice filled the bedroom.

Violet ran out the door and down the hall to the double spiral staircase. Her mother had created the stairs to look like the DNA double helix.

She was waiting for Violet near a silver bookcase in her lab.

“Do you want to go in the Agri-Dome for one more practice run?” she asked.

She opened the glass-paned cabinet door, revealing dozens of books and looked at her with one eyebrow raised.

“No, I’m ready,” Violet said.

Her mother closed the cabinet door and then smoothed her white lab coat.

“Let’s begin,” she said in an official tone. “What is the question that created the invention?”

Violet took a deep breath and wiped her sweaty palms on her lab coat that had a purple jellyfish pattern all over.


  1. I liked the opening visual of Violet pacing and the sky being bright and sunny above her, and I'm interested in what the Globe is, and the importance of climbing it on the outside.

    For the first 250, though, there are too many words given up for description/adjectives. I'd rather have learned the question that created the invention in this opening, maybe even know a little more about the Globe.

  2. Some great intriguing world details here (the brutally bright sky, the Dome, etc)! I also love what we've seen so far about Violet — purple-haired science girl!

    I agree that the best change you could make would be to trim back the number of descriptive words & adjectives. Keep the ones that tell us something important about Violet and her world — for instance, purple jellyfish on the lab coat, or a painfully bright sun — and strip out the ones that don't add much (we don't need to know her mother's lab coat is white, because we'll assume it is unless we hear otherwise). You can also tighten some of those descriptive phrases (to take the previous example, " lab coat that had a purple jellyfish pattern all over" --> "jellyfish-patterned lab coat" (or something like that). Look to trim excess words!

    The very end of the excerpt also sounds like it might be setting us up for an info dump. Not sure if that's the case, but if so, I'd save that for later. Keep the dramatic tension alive by moving the moment forward, and fill us in on the background later; what exactly is going on is part of the tension and why we keep reading.

    This looks really neat! Good luck!

  3. I agree with previous comments. The only thing I would add is that initially when you described the room with painful sunlight etc, I felt as if she were in prison or held captive and wanted to escape. it was jarring to realize she was at home or work with mom.

  4. Fun entry! I will leave my notes without reading the other comments, so I can see it without being swayed. :)

    I enjoyed the sense of place, and felt it right away. It was very clear.

    I think you could use a comma in the first par. after painful.

    Make sure you write out your numbers, like 42.

    You could bring "Her mother's voice" up as the tag to "Violet?"

    Love the DNA stairs. :)

    Again, you could combine "Do you want to go" with "She was waiting", and also bring "She opened the glass-paned" up behind "practice run," and get rid of the "she asked." Make it one paragraph.

    You could delete "then" and "white" in the 3rd to last paragraph, and again pull the dialogue up to it. That way you could get rid of the "she said" tag again.

    Love the purple jellyfish pattern -- is there a way to shorten that sentence, though? Like, "...on her lab coat with the purple jellyfish pattern."

    Interesting idea! Would be fun to read more. Good luck!

  5. Agree with above comments. If this is set in the future, would they have books? I wasn't sure she was at home either, so maybe make it clearer. I do like the purple jellyfish though! What's the invention she's going to try? Good luck!

  6. I like the world. I'm wondering what the invention is and why it is just called "the invention." If it has a name, wouldn't she use it's name inside her own head? I actually like that there are still books in this future. :)

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  8. I have to agree that you should cut out descriptive details and stuff like "Her mother had created the stairs to look like the DNA double helix." It's a cool detail, but it fell out of place.

    Another thing I didn't get was if Violet needed her invention to go out, unlike other people, who just had to wait for the sun to cool down.

    Still, very interesting premise and I LOVE the Title/MC's Name/Light Spectrum/Hair Color play on words.

  9. There is a lot to like in this story--at least the snippet we have here. But I didn't quite visualize the twin spiral staircase reference. The double helix would look like a normal spiral staircase with railings on both sides. What came to mind for me was two separate staircases paralleling each other.
    Still the only real problem I had was the dialog between Violet and her mom. I was confused about who was speaking when. Good luck with this.

  10. I enjoyed this! Clear sense of stakes, I’m intrigued by the idea that the sky is always a painful, bright blue, and curious to know more about what Violet is about to attempt. The color purple/violet comes up three times; the purple jellyfish pattern felt like one time too many to me, but it’s hard to know, without reading more, about why that’s important. Overall, I think you can cut details like this to streamline the opening.