Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #11

TITLE: A Matter of Time
GENRE: YA Contemporary/Historical Fiction

“Greetings and salutations, my dear seniors,” Mr. Carter began. A few students shifted nervously in their seats at the gleam in his eyes. He rubbed his hands together like a starving man at a feast. “Have I got something special for you.” Dramatic pause. “A project.” I heard a long, low groan coming from the general direction of Greer, my self-proclaimed best friend, a few seats behind me.

“But not,” he continued, “just any old project. This one is a stroke of sheer genius. It will definitely cement a Teacher of the Year win for yours truly yet again. The learning opportunity I’m about to bestow upon you is unparalleled.” The groan grew louder.

“Out with it Mr. Carter. You’re killing us with suspense,” a football player whose name I hadn’t bothered to learn spoke up from the back of the room. “Will it at least include the opportunity to booze it up in Jenks’ basement, like last year?” A couple of his friends snickered in response. I rolled my eyes.

“I have no control over what you people do in your free time, but as always, I will wholeheartedly encourage you to fully live your project. The doors of history remain firmly closed to those who choose not to open them.”

I wasn’t sure if that comment was too vague to be deep or so deep it became vague. A few more snickers filtered over from the corner of the room. Someone began tapping a pen against their desk.


  1. I'm not sure if "contemporary/historical" counts as a genre, but that, combined with the teacher's comment about the doors of history makes me extremely curious! I'd suggest cleaning this up just a bit - split into new paragraphs when new people are talking or acting, add a comma after "out with it", things like that. At the beginning, instead of telling us they're nervous, show through the MC's thoughts - are they used to crazy ideas from this teacher? How does the MC feel about it? Right now all I'm sensing is a general annoyance with his/her classmates. If you can help us connect with what the MC is feeling about this project to build connection and suspense about what the project will be, I think you have an intriguing start!

  2. The previous comment covered all the points, but I must say that I find your entry quite engaging! I'm curious as to what he's going to say. I'm not sure why the teacher would start with "Greeting and Salutations" because that doesn't quite sound like how a teacher would begin anything. Perhaps try to spice that line up since it's the start. I would also suggest adding a touch more on what the MC personally feels about what's going on - a little internal thought, maybe?

  3. I agree with the above comments, but I'd like to see more of the narrator here rather than the focus on what the teacher is saying, but (as a former teacher) I think you do a good job in how the students are reacting. I definitely want to know what this project is!

  4. I agree, particularly with the starting sentence. I'd make it more jarring and have it shadow the overall conflict of the book. At this point, we don't know exactly what that is, but assuming it involve time travel. I don't see anything that would give me character motivation at this point. Maybe hint at that.

  5. This scene is well-written, but the main character is just a spectator like me. There's no character agency here, and I don't have any sense of conflict or character.

    It may be that there's a better opening scene for this character. I'd read on to find out.