Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #30

TITLE: Spinout
GENRE: YA contemporary

           Turn Three rushes at me. I brake, tug the wheel to the left. My racecar—the Mirage 2—slews sideways through the sharp curve. I straighten out with a flick of the wheel, floor the throttle. My Pontiac thunders onto the short straight.
            I am so killing the Oklahoma City Raceway.
            As I set up for the next turn, I touch the wrinkled photo taped to my dash. My father gives the camera a thumbs up. Wish he could be here to see me race. But he’s not happy unless he’s behind the wheel of a fast racecar every weekend. I miss his encouragement.
            Even without Dad here to cheer me on, I need to nail the groove. Sure, these practice laps don’t count. But smoking the other drivers proves I can blow their doors off, even though they have more racing experience than I do at sixteen.
            Fast practice sessions also give me a huge confidence boost for tomorrow’s 100 lap race. As a rookie on the Junior Stock Car Racing Circuit, I need to finish fifth or better in three of my first six races. Otherwise, I’m ineligible for any Junior Circuit race for the rest of the summer.
            It won’t be easy. But I’ve dreamed of this forever. Now that I made Juniors, I plan to stay here.
            As I exit Five, Reid Matthews’ red and white Dodge closes up on me until it fills my mirrors.    


  1. I love the voice in this! It sets up the character well as someone determined and passionate. Your first 250 also does a good job introducing the plot

    For something that she's so passionate about, I'd like to see a little more emotion while she's actually racing. Right now, it just seems to be all action. And the ending confuses me a bit as well. What's Five? Is she back on the main road now or still on the racetrack? I couldn't tell.

  2. Oh, yeah. I'm already rooting for this young person. I'm also wondering why his/her dad can't be there for him/her just because the father also loves to drive race cars. Does the dad ever watch his son/daughter race? Obviously this young person loves the father or s/he wouldn't have the picture taped to the dashboard. Hmmm. And now someone is churning up the road and perhaps might pass this young person? I'd like to know if that happens as well as the dynamics of the relationship of the young person and the father.
    Good job.

  3. I find this driver doing a lot of daydreaming for being in the midst of some laps around a race track. It seems like his focus should be on the vehicle, speed, more technical things?

    I wish him or her well in the race though

  4. I was really in the action then worried about them focusing on a pic during a race, and relieved when they said it was practice, but then there was a bunch of detail and backstory. I think if you trim the bit about the Junior races down a sentence or 2, and keep in the moment it will help. Knowing they want to win that is enough for now, then you can bring Reid in sooner. I wonder why they do not go to the same races as their Dad though? I think racing families often work together idk. Good to see racing in YA. I do think different types of sports stories are wanted, rather than the usual types;) I don't know if you are being vague about the character on purpose, but I am curious. (imo a female racer would be really cool:)

  5. This beginning is action-packed and promises to be an exciting read. The pacing and descriptions in the opening paragraphs put us right in the driver seat with the driver. To draw us further in and make us care about the racing, it would help to know a bit more about the driver. Maybe give us more of an emotional hook, a small hint about why these racing goals are important to him/her. The picture of the father and the character’s longing for his support were intriguing and makes me wonder if this absent father is selfish or uncaring. Is the driver trying to prove something to him? Or, maybe, trying to prove something to another competitor or to him/herself? I would save some of the explanations about the race and the circuit for a little later. Focusing a bit more about the emotional stakes at the beginning will give this opening more meaning and make us care about whether or not s/he wins. Good luck!

  6. It’s a great intro, but I think you need to be careful not to share too much with the reader right off the bat. Just tell us he/she touches the wrinkled photo, not that Dad’s off on his own race, and definitely not that you miss his encouragement! Similarly, the “junior racing circuit” paragraph could be tightened.
    Aside from all this, you’ve thrown us into a super intense, exciting moment, so it’s really bizarre for protagonist to suddenly daydream like this.

  7. Great place to begin the story! The only thing I think would make it a bit better would be to have it be a real race, not just practice. The tension went out a little when you revealed that, and also when you stopped to give us a bit of backstory. It would be even stronger if you could keep up that tense feeling from your first sentence across the entire first page!

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