Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March Secret Agent #21

TITLE: The Bach Double
GENRE: YA - Contemporary

Elise Reid yanked the vacuum across her carpet, fingers itching to practice her violin. She punched the off button, glancing around the room with critical eyes. Spotless. Alphabetized books lined the desk opposite the perfectly-made bed. Below a pristine mirror, a symmetrical row of knick-knacks adorned the dresser. Not a speck of dust or disorder remained.

Still he wasn’t home.

She straightened her All State Orchestra plaque. Since she was only starting her sophomore year, she’d left space there by the door for three more. But she needed her good bow.

The garage door screeched. She raced downstairs, only to find her father loosening his tie, empty-handed.

“Did you get my bow?”

He clapped a hand to his forehead. “I got hung up with my last patient and totally forgot."

Her breath caught like he’d dumped ice water on her.

He forgot. Why did that surprise her? She swallowed and half turned away from him.

“I’ll take you there now.”

“The shop closed fifteen minutes ago.”

“Why didn’t you text me?”

“Because this morning you said you would get it.” She hated the peevish tone of her voice and crossed her arms.

He reached a hand toward her, and she met his eyes. “You never used to forget things that I needed. A year ago you would have picked up my bow and brought it to me on your lunch hour.”

“Sorry.” Hurt churned in his eyes like she’d punched him.

They stood facing each other, more words threatening to tumble from her.


  1. I just love this. Two flawed but vulnerable characters that draw me in, and I want to read on. Third paragraph from the end, I might change 'A year ago you would have picked up my bow and brought it to me on your lunch hour' to internal dialogue following the sentence. It seems like she would say that, but only in her head. :)

  2. I would keep reading. I like the character development you have here. They both seem realistic, except when she says "A year ago...." It seems like you are inserting this dialogue just to tell the backstory, and therefore seems forced. I would maybe cut it and let the story unfold naturally or like the above poster said..say it as internal dialogue.

  3. I like this. We know the MC is compulsive; we see it in her meticulous cleaning, the organization of "stuff", and her desire to practice. I feel like that characteristic would cause her to blow up a bit more at her dad for forgetting to pick up her bow, because now she can't practice until later tomorrow (I think a compulsive person would rail at the interruption of an expected/anticipated routine). And I'm not sure she'd feel bad about lashing out (can you tell I live with a teenager?) I'd read on, because something happened that changed her father, and I suspect may have instigated the compulsiveness.

  4. I agree that you have great character development here. However, I feel like you're trying to cram in too much info about the character at the beginning. I don't think we need to know about All State Orchestra yet. The conflict could be strengthened, too. What are the stakes in the argument with her father? If she doesn't get her bow tonight, what's the worst that could happen?

  5. I'm most impressed by your sense of character. Your first paragraph is an excellent example of using narration and setting as tools for characterization. I feel like I've got a good handle on Elise and am beginning to understand her father. At this point in the story, that's awesome.

    It does seem like she might be overreacting about the bow, though, so based on this snippet alone I worry that it's an overblown conflict. That said, I recognize that this could be a feature of the word count limit for this contest, so I'm not concerned and I trust that you explain the situation further as the scene progresses (if you don't, you might consider revisions to fix the issue).

    Thank you for your entry!