Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #41

TITLE: TRUTH BE TOLD
GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Verity sank deeper into the chair with the tattered fabric on the arm. She wound the familiar threads around her index finger, waiting for Principal Weaver to get on with it. Outside, the wind tossed brilliant orange maple leaves around in the rain.

Principal Weaver folded her hands over her desk blotter and spoke. “In your favorite seat, I see.”

Verity let out a little breath of laughter. “What can I say?” she said, her hands going palm up. “Your office is just so cozy.” She crossed her legs.

"Tell me what happened,” said Principal Weaver.

“The fire alarm went off. A hallway was destroyed. And here I am.”

“Yes, yes,” said the woman with a sigh. “I can see you are going to be as cooperative as usual.” Verity wondered if it was appropriate for a principal to show such a tendency towards sarcasm, as the woman turned to the boy sitting to her right.

“Okay, William. What’s your story?”

Verity regarded him. Until then she’d tried not to look at him, but now she figured a glance couldn’t hurt. Okay, maybe more than a glance.

His brown hair picked up the pallid light coming in from the window, his careless waves somehow perfect. She noted accents of blonde and red, then studied safer surroundings: a vase of fake flowers, a framed photo of two smiling kids, a miniature U.S. flag aside a miniature Massachusetts state flag. Verity began inspecting the inspirational posters on the wall when Will spoke.

13 comments:

  1. oh I really like this and how it jumps straight into action! It seems like Verity has been in the principal's office quite a few times, and that definitely makes me curious. I'm wondering if it could be beneficial to start the story with "Principal Weaver folded her hands over her desk blotter and spoke. “In your favorite seat, I see.” as the first sentence though, as it's a bit more catchy and we immediately understand that UH-OH, she's done something now since she's in the principal's office and it isn't the first time. It would be more grabbing, in my opinion.

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  2. I actually like where this starts off. It immediately gives us the sense that she's no stranger to the principals office. I don't have much critique to offer, sadly. It's a very strong opening that just begins to hint at the characters and a problem they're dealing with. Nice job.

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  3. A comment—I couldn’t tell there was another person in the room besides Verity and the principal until the sixth paragraph.
    I can tell Verity is feeling very uncomfortable, angry, and betrayed… curious to know why! I also like the details that tell us that this isn’t V’s first time here, and that she really doesn’t want to be here with William right now ;)

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  4. I love the contemporary troublemaker kid vibe that comes through from the start - Verity clearly gets in trouble often, and that tells me a lot about her character. And her dialogue! Stating facts without admitting blame. I also love that the principal is a woman (small detail but great) and the image of the fall leaves/the little flags - clever way of telling readers Verity lives in Massachusetts. I was also surprised to see a third person was in the room, though - try and make that clearer from the very beginning of the scene.

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  5. I like how nonchalant Verity is about being in trouble.

    I don’t think you need to say inspected the inspirational posters. You can just say inspirational posters lined the walls. Maybe her eyes can gravitate to one in particular?

    Also, you could maybe lose the second to last paragraph? You convey most of that in the last paragraph so could move up William’s first lines into this!

    Great job getting us into the action and making us want to read more to figure out what happened!

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  6. I agree with what everyone was saying. I like how nonchalant Verity is with being in trouble.

    There is probably an interesting dynamic between the principal and Verity if she is constantly in there. I can see it with the sarcasm the principal bothers to give.

    With Verity's response 'your office is just cozy' I'd recommend considering a more transitional response for the principal to have. Did she click her teeth at Verity's response? Is this the kind of banter that the two are used to? She is very calm in her conversation with the principal I'd like to see a sigh or a tsk from the principal that would tell us 'not this again'

    I liked that she focused on objects around Will. It makes it more interesting that she consciously has to do so. Over all, very intriguing!

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  7. Great intro to Verity's character right away. I get the attitude and also a sense of vulnerability. She is protecting herself I think with sarcasm.
    You did a good job of setting the place and time right away too. And I assume Will is important (LI?) so good work getting them on page together so quick.
    I would split the sentence before we meet Will: "...sarcasm. The woman turned to..."

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  8. I liked the visual of orange maple leaves in the rain. Made me wistful for October lol.

    I thought it was odd to refer them as "the woman" and "the boy" in the 6th paragraph instead of their names.

    But, interesting set up and I would be curious if Will has a bit more to say to the principal that Verity did.

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  9. I like this opening and how Verity is familiar with being in the principal's office. I hope more is revealed later for this backstory. Maybe add the body language of William - especially if he's feeling opposite. How does Verity say her statement of what happened - with what tone? When Verity takes notice of the items in the principal's office at the end of this opening, like what make those items "safer"? Hmmm, a good clue of avoidance of him in the room. :)

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  10. Great first graph. I loved how we get to the point that Verity's in big trouble with William. She's a bit of a troublemaker. I do agree with the other thoughts. Nice sense of descriptions and drama and good natural dialogue. I do care about Verity and what happens to her. Nice descriptions.

    Minor nits: if you're asking something, use ask. Wondered is a filter word--you can phrase it as ? or have as thoughts. Somehow is passive--remove. And a little is passive, so you need to be specific on the laugh.

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  11. I really enjoyed Verity's snark. Cozy spot, indeed. I liked her instantly and that's a rare and good thing in a main character.

    I think your first sentence could be more exciting. You have lots of really great lines in the 250, and you could rearrange a little bit to start with a funny line instead of a description of the office.

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  12. The beginning seems a little clunky to me. Maybe something more like—Verity sank deeper into the armchair, her fingers playing with the familiar worn threads, as she waited for Principal Weaver to get on with it.
    Is pallid the best word choice to describe light?
    I’d suggest cutting “hands going palm up” and “said Principal Weaver” and other extraneous details that aren’t really necessary and slow down the pace.
    Be careful not to be too-too obvious/clichĂ© when she first observes the love interest. Right now she’s coming across as super cool, cool enough to laugh in her principal’s face when anyone else would be a ball of nerves, which is so great, so given that she doesn’t seem to know this guy, it’s a little early to be picking the various flecks of light out in his multi-accented hair.

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