Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #19

TITLE: What Goes Up
GENRE: YA Contemporary


She pointed her skis down the mountain, crouched low, and kept her eyes on the jump. When she reached the bottom of the slope, she stood back up, raised her arms, and rode the kicker up to shoot into the sky, twisting her body through the air. On her second flip, she kept her eyes below her, aiming her skis toward the snow, ready to –


She looked up, a little dazed, but suddenly aware that she was not actually on the mountain.

“The year of the French Revolution, Whitney?”

She glanced at the notes on the desk in front of her. The half-filled page wasn’t going to help her here. She didn’t have time to look at her best friend for help, and even if she did, Gracie would never speak in class out of turn, so she answered the first thing she could think of.

“7-8-9! I mean, 1789.”

Ms. Gentig nodded and directed her attention back toward the rest of the class, but not before Whitney saw the amused glint in her eyes. She sank back in her chair. She’d been caught day-dreaming yet again.

When the bell rang ten minutes later, Whitney stuffed her notebook into her backpack and looked up into Gracie’s wide smile. “So what were you practicing this time? Your full-double full?”

“No. Ms. Gentig interrupted me before I finished.”

Gracie laughed at her friend as they walked out the room and down the hall toward the cafeteria.


  1. I love an MC who's passionate about something! And her drifting off! But I was a little confused at first. It might help if, after the teacher says her name a second time, you say "Whitney looked up" instead of "She looked up" and maybe give us a description of the teacher sooner. Have Whitney meet her gaze when she realizes she's not on the mountain and describe the teacher's expression or body language or something, to establish her actual location as soon as possible. This is a fun start, though!

    1. Thank you so much! This is a great solution to what I was concerned could be a problem. I appreciate it!

  2. Love the day dreaming start! The only problem I had in the beginning was the start of the second line "When she reached the bottom of the slope" for some reason I thought she was done skiing then, but then realized she was doing jumps. Might not be anything worth changing, it just stuck out to me a bit. But I loved how you brought in something she is passionate about so early, really makes the character stick out!

    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate you letting me know your confusion. I'll see how I can rework the sentence so it's clearer from the beginning!

  3. Wow, a story about a competitive skier. How cool. I love reading about characters with passions that are different than mine. I do agree with the other posters that you need to orient the reader that Whitney is daydreaming. I had to go back and re-read several times before I figured out what was happening, and you don’t want to pull your reader out of the story right at the beginning. I’d also consider showing us about something about Whitney as a character in your opening pages. You’ve established her passion, but give us a hint of her inner strengths and demons so we have a sense of who she is outside of what she can do on the slopes. This will go a long way in making her relatable, especially to those of us who get dizzy just hearing the words full double full!

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I think I'm going to re-order the paragraphs and add a few lines, so it's clear from the beginning that she's daydreaming. Hopefully that will help!