Thursday, July 17, 2008

#108 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?


Me, a heroine? Are you kidding? Anyone who thinks that should be carted off to Linfield Mount, where they have nice, comfortable, padded cells for nutters. I was a normal sixteen-year-old lass living on the Branwell council estate in Thornton. Perhaps it’s what I did that autumn which makes some people think I’m special, when all that trouble kicked off between the Asians and us on the Branwell.

I’ll never forget the evening of the second Tuesday in September, a week to the day after my sixteenth birthday. We were all at home: me in the hallway talking on the telephone; our Will in the front room watching TV; Mum ironing.

An icy draft blew under the front door, raising hundreds of goose bumps along my bare legs. My mini didn’t do much to keep away Jack Frost. But that wasn’t the main thing on my mind. My boyfriend was on the phone. Danny was in the year above me at school. I’d started seeing him when I was thirteen. He was my first proper boyfriend. You know, the first one I went… riding with.

I’d met Danny down the stables where my best mate Tara kept her horse. His mum and dad were loaded, so they had four horses. We’d been inseparable. But then his parents decided the grass was greener on the Emerald Isle. As soon as he finished his GCSEs, they moved there, horses and all.


  1. Ye-maybe.

    Again. I think I'd want to see more of the first chapter.

    The problem that I see is this snippet feels somewhat rushed.

  2. The voice is kind of good. I don't know about sustaining the past imperfect or whatever that tense is--It would be hard slogging for a whole novel. And is British regional racial conflict a genre? I'm curious whether this is for adults or young-adults. I have to say, and I could be totally wrong, of course, but this sounds like a guy writing in a girl's POV.

  3. Hi! I'm Hezzah on critique circle. I haven't been on there much recently, so I knew you revamped this, but I haven't had a chance to read the changes.

    My gut reaction is that I like the original opening better than this one. I don't know if that helps any.

  4. Hi Heather!
    I like it. I agree with the other comments, well except my pal Heather's, since I haven't read it before, but over all, YEAH! I'd totally keep going. And I'm thinking Young Adult all the way. Am I wrong?

  5. I like it. I'm on CC, too, but the first time I read this I was honestly too confused to keep going. I like this a lot better.

  6. I wasn't hooked, and mostly because it felt like telling to me. There wasn't much going on. But that's just my opinion. :-)

  7. I really had to struggle to read this. To my mind, what's the point of reading the story when you've given us the entire synopsis on thte first page? Except for the details, there won't be anything new to read for the next 200-300 pages.

  8. Yes. :) I absolutely loved the first three sentences. I'm not so sure about the rest of it -- I like the voice, but it's kind of infodumping -- but I think the voice would be enough for me to read on. :)

  9. Hiya C ;)

    I'm a cheat, because I'm not coming to this cold.

    Her voice is fresh and interesting, but the rest sounds a little bit like a girls own adventure, or YA/Coming of age.

    Instead the reality is that it's gritty and sometimes disturbing.

    I think you should hint at the depth of her guilt about what she'd done. Perhaps suggest the lows she fell to, before you launch into the details of her life.

    Just a suggestions.

    Good Luck.

  10. I really like the voice, but so far, I don't care much about what she's saying.
    You hint at "What I did" and then each paragraph after gets a little farther away from it, until we're already into a description of Danny.

    I'd probably read on- a little bit.

  11. I'm not coming to this cold, either, and I agree with tys. This snippet doesn't begin to hint at the story that will be told, and reading it in this cut-to-the-briefest-of-all-possible-chases form makes me think the novel might be served better by the introduction of some mystery or guilt or something "hookier." Here it sounds much like an info-dump. :-(

    The voice is fresh and exciting, and that alone makes me want to keep reading. :-)

  12. He he. I know who you are... :)

    I kinda agree that, since I know what comes next, the opening could be stronger. Not to give away the plot or anything (for those that haven't read this), but what if this started with the police coming to the door? Really, the Danny stuff never becomes so important that a line or two later on can't fix. And the reason Will left the house can also be introduced later in dialogue. Maybe. Just a suggestion to try out.


  13. Maybe.
    One thing bugged me.
    The voice. I'd expect it from a teenager in the 1800's, this feels more historical, but the tv bit tells me it isn't. I don't know of any teenager that thinks and talks like this, but then again this just might be because this isn't my thing.

  14. No, not hooked. I have trouble getting into stories that start with flashbacks. Beginning in the moment of conflict would bring more tension to the piece. Right now, it feels stale to be reading about a crucial event after the fact.

  15. Not hooked.

    The voice was...strange. I liked the setting and her story but, she seemed flat and not very engaging. Also, telling the entire backstory in the opening bit isn't a good way to start. It leaves very little to find out.

  16. Sorry, not hooked. I was curious at first, but then you resorted to lots of explanations and, er, back-backstory.

  17. Sorry, no. You mention what happened between the Asians and us and then on Tuesday in September. I don't know if these are separate events. I don't know any of the people you mention - they are faceless entities. The setting is also very nebulous to me, although your title would be enough to catch my attention as I love the Brontes and am an Anglophile.

  18. No, sorry. I liked the first few lines, even if it is summery, but after that you sort of lost me and I didn't really get engaged with the narrator or the story.

    Good luck,


  19. No for me. (I think I've made my point about self-identifying a genre that doesn't make me frustrated or leave me saying huh, so I'll move on.) The First four sentences don't work for me but the last one of the 1st para does. I like that the voice isn't the same old teen voice but the first page doesn't leave me with quite as strong a sense of where it's headed or who our mc is as I'd want.

  20. It has potential - first line is great, and hello, horses! :D - but as it is it feels a bit drafty and overwritten. Trim it down, weed out all the unnecessary stuff, and it would be a lot better.

  21. This was a bit slow for me... perhaps it's a style issue, but I culdn't really get into the character and situation.