Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May Secret Agent #42

GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

Words are the most vicious things. No, that's a lie. It's what people do with them that’s evil. They can be sweet, caring, sad. They're not mean and thoughtless by nature. But those who speak them can be.

“I bet Zoe’d spread her legs for me,” a guy behind me says.

His buddy nudges his side. “Just say something science. Chicks love that.” Chicks also don’t like guys who look like Neanderthals.

I wish my friends hadn’t convinced me into going to the party.

Trees blanket the backyard, blotting out the moon's light, though the lights and campfire provide plenty of illumination. The cool, crisp air of the outdoors mixes with the sizzling burgers, hotdogs and chicken cooking on the grill. Groups have taken root both in and outdoors. Some are swimming in the lake, others dancing around the fire, and I saw a video game tournament going on in the living room.

“It’ll be fine, Zo,” my best friend, Jenny, says coming up behind me. “No one’s going to remember.”

Tell that to the classmates who teased me about it. Poor little Zoe, can’t read. Which, not true. I can. It’s just hard.

She runs a hand through her black, perfectly curled hair, the golden bracelets jingling against her skin, their color enhanced by her darkness. Looking around she says, “There are plenty of other guys here to take your mind off things.” Of course, we’re back onto that now.

“I just want a nice boy.” Or girl, but I doubt she’d like that.


  1. "convinced me into" is awkward.

    Overall, it seems like this just needs polishing up. There are punctuation and usage problems, but the imagery of the party is pretty good.

    Makes me curious about what the paranormal aspect will be.

  2. Okay, I think that starting with off-color conversation from characters that don't matter isn't the way. The fact that she heard this and wanted to leave was negated by her name calling and remarking on their appearance in her inner dialogue. In other words, she was as bad as they were so who is she to judge?
    Let us see a glimpse of the very best part of her when we meet.

  3. I'm not sure if this is appropriate to say here, so I'll delete it if so. I read your other versions in AQC and there is a different beginning to this story I like better. I think that one started where she is heading into the woods from the party. For some reason this one seemed jarring and a bit confusing. i can't really relate to this character here, yet I know from your other version I do like this character very much. i totally feel for you here because i have rewritten my beginning a million times and it still isn't there.
    i know you have a great story here but this particular beginning isn't pulling me into it. I hope to see you again on AQC and I'd be glad to give more info there.

  4. I don't recall any starting with her in the woods.

    1. sorry. i must be remembering it wrong.

    2. sorry. i must be remembering it wrong.

  5. I loved the first line. I actually think it's be stronger to stop at evil. The rest is just re-iterating what you just said so succinctly.
    The neanderthal line would be better if you said 'spoke like' instead of looked like - it then links to the first line of using words well.
    After the nice description of the party I get lost - another character is introduced but why were the first two guys mentioned and then dropped? You're moving the action along but I don't understand what I'm meant to be taking from it. We've got her not wanting to come to the party but is it because words spoken are ugly or because she can't read or because she wants a nice guy...?
    Finally, if this is paranormal, we need to sense that/feel that somehow, even if just a taster.

  6. I felt like too much was being thrown at me at once here. The party was well set up, it's the people interaction that is confusing. We hear the comments from the two boys with no explanation why and no reaction from her. Then a girl enters talking about no one remembering. The main character doesn't react to that either, and instead is thinking about people teasing her about her reading skills. If all of these are important, you need to slow down and develop a full scene for each of them and a transition between scenes. Otherwise it feels like a lot of random information.

  7. I only realised your narrator was Zoe quite a bit after reading 'bet Zoe'd would spread her legs for me', and so I scrambled back up to that dialogue to look for her immediate reaction/s to it, but I couldn't find them. (Her thoughts on chicks not liking Neanderthals seemed to be in reaction to the chicks loving science statement) I felt I needed Zoe's immediate reaction, though, so I could learn who your narrator was in relation to this comment and also her feelings about it. Up until the Zoe and reading part, I thought your narrator had just overheard fellow party goers mouthing off about sleeping with an inconsequential person.

    'Which, not true' to me felt like it should have been 'Which is not true'/'Which isn't true'.

    I think it was a good time to describe the party and give us a sense of where and what, and I quite liked the picture you painted. I'd cut back on it though and give a sentence or two less, so we aren't pulled too much from the thread-of-action you created with those party-goer comments and her feelings to them.

    I love a good story about reading and learning problems, so you've piqued my interest there. I also support more diversity in fiction! Glad to see it. Just be careful your descriptions of things like dark skin colour feel natural and not tokenistic. This edit might help with that: '...against her dark skin.' (i.e., add 'dark' there and then delete the rest of the sentence). Otherwise, to me, it felt like you were over emphasising that.

    I'd read on!

  8. Like your idea, but I think you need to provide a bit more about the setting to ground the reader in your story. For example,

    After the words paragraph, Trees blanket the backyard, blotting out the moon's light, though the lights and campfire provide plenty of illumination. The cool, crisp air of the outdoors mixes with the sizzling burgers, hotdogs and chicken cooking on the grill.

    Describe the guy and does MC turn around and what is his reaction? See if you can weave in a bit abot how the MC and the other guy look or are dressed via their actions. E.g., The guy behind me, a senior who was always ragging on me, grabbed the sleeve of my t-shirt and yanked.

    Also, who is Zoe? Why is the guy giving him advise on sex? We need MC's inner thoughts. It would help to have his name, too before the end of the first page, also his age, e.g., the Junior class summer party or whatever it is.

    I wish my friends hadn’t convinced me into going to the party. I think this should read: I wish my friends hadn't convinced me to go to the party. This might be a better hook than what you have. I'd start with it and forget the paragraph about the words, then maybe weave in as you go along a bit more about why he doesn't want to be there. We need to know more about him if he's the MC.

    Instead of filtering with I saw, show us the video game tournament.

    You've got a great setting, just keep revising.

  9. I forgot to comment that you also changed POV from a guy to Zoe; please change the scene if you're going to change the POV

  10. You might consider starting with this:

    “I bet Zoe’d spread her legs for me,” a guy behind me says.

    And after the dialogue between the two guys, having the Zoe's friend clue us in that Zoe is our protagonist. Then you can move into revealing the scene.

    I'm concerned that there is too much happening in these opening paragraphs -- a verbal assault of Zoe, something about her not being able to read, the question about her sexuality. Add to that, the details about the setting.

    What must your reader absolutely know in these opening paragraphs that can not be slowly revealed in the coming pages and chapters? What promise are you making to your reader in these opening pages, and how will you fulfill it?

    Keep honing and refining!

  11. Thanks for the comments everyone, I have a new, shinier version now. :)