Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #50

TITLE: Wide Open
GENRE: YA Contemporary

It must have been my promise to Daddy that made me agree to this. Mom didn't even have to talk me into it much; I just said yes. Because it's an adventure, like Daddy would've said, and because Fisher said they only had space for thirty. That's only twenty-nine other people.

Still. Am I crazy? A senior class trip with twenty-nine people I have nothing in common with. They have, at best, ignored me completely, and at worst outright made fun of me. I've learned to wrap a protective layer around my heart, so I won't be hurt by them. They don't like me, I don't like them. It's peaceful and mutual. So why am I going again?

I groan and press my face into my pillow. It really must be for Daddy. He would have wanted this. Invitations don't exactly come pouring in for me, so really, I never had much of a choice.

Mom knocks on my bedroom door frame. "You up?"

I sit up too fast. "Yeah."

She enters and perches on the end of my bed. I've always thought Mom is beautiful. Streaks of silver run through her long, honey-gold hair. Her face is heart-shaped and kind, her eyes like two green pools. I remember when they used to sparkle. Now they're deep and veiled. Typical Mom, burying her pain so no one else will have to deal with it.


  1. I like the set up here. Voice is strong. However, I'd rather be on the bus right now. I want to feel her angst not hear her talk about it. Perhaps she can ruminate while staring out the bus window. Let her react to people seated near her. Show us her squirming and being anxious. Good luck! I like how the title hints at her character growth.

    1. The voice is great. Only suggestion would be to make mention of where the seniors are going ... i.e. “A senior class trip to ____ with twenty-nine people ...”

      What Ellen suggested is good too but it would make it hard to intro mom, with the trip underway already, and it’s not clear in such a short sample how big a deal it would be to take her out at the beginning.

  2. I Like Ellen' suggestion! It would be nice to see the mc going through some of the experiences that are described. With so much emphasis on the father, and than the mom, the mc feels a bit let out of the story.

    Most high school kids don't call their Dad, Daddy. It sounds younger than YA.

  3. I like your character, but not this beginning. Nothing really happens other than your character in bed thinking, and it gets a bit repetitive. I'd prefer to meet the character in a more interesting way!

  4. I love the last paragraph where she describes her mother. Maybe you could do more of that with the people on the bus as a way to show us her world. Give us some information about why she is an outsider to this group by showing what makes her so. I agree with some of the other comments that it would work better if it started with her on the bus and we knew her destination. Good luck!

  5. I liked the references back to Dadddy. It implies that he's dead, and that he had wanted more for her when he was alive. It comes across naturally and isn't forced. But I did wonder if Daddy, as opposed to Dad, would work in a YA.

    The opening page itself reads slow. Nothing happens. General wisdom says not to start with someone waking up. As others have said, starting on the actual class trip could be a stronger start.

  6. I like that she'd promised Daddy she'd go on the class trip, but the promise is repeated and she still hasn't gone anywhere. At first I didn't know why we need to know what Mom looked like, but then I got to the pained look in her eyes, which I like--although maybe elsewhere in the story. Perhaps on page 1 she can say goodbye to Mom as she gets onto the bus. As she enters the bus, she can say hi, and when everyone ignores her, she can think about how she'd never have agreed to this but for her promise to Daddy. You can cover the same material but have her in the act of leaving home and starting the trip.

  7. A couple of things felt off to me in this opening. At first, I thought the POV was a child (The words 'Daddy' and ‘Fisher said’ made me believe the POV was around 8 maybe 9.) But then I saw this was a High School Senior, and the voice didn't connect for me.

    Next, the MC described students’ relationship to them as ‘peaceful and mutual’ even though they make fun of the POV.

    Mom's inner conflict was heart rending, but the MC dismissed it so casually, it felt callous. If Mom is an important character, maybe consider devoting time, energy, and patience to reveal her sad backstory.

    Still the strong verbs and the moment in the final paragraph (before that last sentence) feel intriguing. :-)

    Thank you for sharing!

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