Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #44

TITLE: The Girl In The Picture
GENRE: YA Paranormal Thriller

My part in this story starts the day I found a box of pictures in a creepy room in an abandoned house in the North Country. It was a story that started before I was born and it is a story that deserves to be told. I’m not even sure I’m the one that should tell it and I only hope that I can do justice to what happened this past summer.

Now I wasn’t some creeper out snooping around abandoned houses for no reason. I was there for a very specific reason. I wanted a car. When you live in a wasteland of strip malls, Targets and Chipotles, not having a car made you either an outcast or a leech. I didn’t want to be either of those and my parents refused to buy me a car. But, one day, in the middle of June as I was studying for finals, my old man came to me with an offer: if I worked for him for the summer, he would match me dollar for dollar so I could buy my own. He had already offered my best friend, Marlon Jefferies, a job too, so I’d have company. But I hesitated. I knew he wasn’t going to give me a cushy job in the air conditioned office. I knew I’d be out on the road with one of his crews.

My old man is locally known as the King of Junk. You might have seen him on TV.


  1. Rather than telling us the story starts with finding a box of pictures in a creepy room in an abandoned house, what if you showed us the MC in that scene as it happens? I'm intrigued by how wanting a car leads the MC to the abandoned house, and the mention of Dad as "the King of Junk" is a nice bit of voice that I wanted more of.

  2. I think you could start this story with the second paragraph. It immediately shows us his desire. A car. It shows he has been given an opportunity to have a way to get it, and quickly hints that this won't be easy. And The King of Junk? Love it, I would read on!

  3. Hi there!

    You've got some good material here, but you're expositioning a bit and it's not needed. (The "I'm going to tell you a story" is in a lot of query sample pages; you want to stand out with something fresh and unforgettable!)

    I suggest leading with the King of Junk and the summer of creepy old houses and weird people's stuff, and work in the backstory.

    You've got great elements--play with them to leverage them in the best service of the story. :)

    Good luck with this!

  4. I love the second paragraph. I think you could cut the first paragraph entirely and start right in with the second. It shows us character, motivation, and setting.

  5. Although I like your first sentence, I second the suggestion that the rest of the paragraph could go (or be condescend.) It could be interesting to either start with paragraph 2 or start in the creepy room (and describe it to show how it's creepy.)

    I was definitely getting hooked by paragraph 2 where I started to get a feeling for the narrator's personality and his situation.

  6. I would much rather see a character finding pictures in a creepy room, rather than being told. So much more dynamic and it allows me to invest in the scene (but I also wonder if that should come later. Just her trying to get a job could be interesting enough!). I like the voice here a lot and I see potential (I love that her dad is the King of Junk! Im fascinated!), but I’d rework how you are beginning the story so that the reader feels much more entwined in the action unfolding on the page.

  7. There are 3 uses of in in the first sentence which makes it a little bit clunky. Also, "my best friend" is telling and I doubt he would think of his best friend with his surname.

    Good luck!

  8. Not a fan of the "I'm going to tell you a story" opening. I would prefer to just start the story and get me into it in the here and now. Sounds like it could be an interesting tale though!