Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #44

GENRE: YA contemporary mystery

After practice, his whole body ached. The only thing that helped was to walk. Let his mind go blank. Forget about the complicated plays that Coach had made them run today. Forget that the game on Friday might be his chance to catch the attention of a college scout on the lookout for a running back who could also play defensive safety.

He knew that Reid and the rest of the gang expected him to come by the patio behind the gun shop. Reid always expected something of him. Not today. He needed to make moves that would ease him out of the gang and their plans for what they called “pranks.”

At the edge of the park, he hesitated. The path was narrow and rocky. A challenge he relished.
When he stumbled, he caught himself before he hit the ground. His hand felt the hard metal before he saw it. A glint in the gathering gloom. When he picked it up, some of the corroded metal flaked off in his hand. “What’s this?”

“Who’s there?” A gruff voice. Close by. Not friendly.

He raised the pipe ready to use it as a weapon against the shadows that surrounded him.

The punch to his back was sudden and swift.

He doubled over.

“I’ll take that,” the voice said.

He tried and failed to hold his grip as he felt strong hands wrestle the pipe away.

The first blow grazed his shoulder.

He winced.

After the second blow, everything went black.


  1. Title! :D I'm struggling a bit with the pronoun-only identification of the MC. Others are named, and I'm not sure where to place my attention. Is there a reason you are withholding the name? Good luck!

  2. I agree with Ellen. I think instead of using 'him' to identify your mc, you need his name. It makes it more personal, makes your mc more personal. As for the opening, I think it's great. We don't know who hit your mc to knock him out. Is it Reid and his gang or a total stranger? Very suspenseful. I would read on. Nice job!

  3. Super first page. It drew me in right away and made me want to know more. I like the short, punchy sentences. I actually only have one tiny suggestion: to change "After the second blow, everything went black" to read instead, "At the second blow, everything went black." (Because going unconscious would be almost instantaneous.)

  4. I love this! Great pacing and short sentences. I agree that I would like the MC's name so I can connect with him more, but I would definitely keep reading.

  5. I, too, like the suspense you've built. My recommendation is to get the reader even deeper into his POV by removing the "he felt" or any instance of "felt" where you can replace it with direct action. I'd definitely read more.

  6. Ditto above. Love the hook. Didn't like the "mystery" of the unknown MC or narrator. Eliminate the feel and felt with action. Best of luck.

  7. I don’t see a connection between the first paragraph and the rest of the scene. Maybe begin with the second or third paragraph?

    I liked the voice, but the voice disappeared when the action began. I have no idea why someone is beating him up. Consider adding some context with an inner thought that explains why he believes someone would attack him. As it stands, it feels too random.

    This action scene feels a bit clumsy. Consider eliminating the filter words (knew, felt, etc)

    Thank you for sharing!

  8. Who is "he"? I assume there is a reason for not naming the protagonist, but I don't think it works here--for me, it just felt confusing and slightly irritating, especially after "what's this". When does the "hard metal" turn out to be a pipe?

    The sentence that starts with "Forget that the game on Friday" goes on a bit too long.

    I agree that the action feels a bit clumsy and could be improved. I also agree that the suspense is there and the hook works-nice work!

  9. I really like how you used short sentences to capture the abruptness and pacing of the attack.

    I'm curious about the idea of him being in a gang. A real gang or just a group that he hangs out with? I would keep reading to find out if the attack is related to that. Thank you!

  10. Thanks to all of you for your comments. Good food for thought!