Wednesday, April 15, 2009

19 Secret Agent

GENRE: Young Adult

Santa Maria della Angeles e Dios Martyrs

Rome, Italy

“Kai, stay here.”

Kai wore his obstinate face, the one that said, “Don’t mess with me.” The face that said, “You’re only my sister and you aren’t in charge.”

Technically she was. Their parents were missing, held by an agent of Hell, and at fifteen Eve was four years older than Kai—in her book, that left her in charge.

“Eve, I’m a kid, not an idiot. Mom and Dad are in there being used in some kind of ritual that kills people, aren’t they? I’m not waiting out here.” He thrust his jaw out and crossed his arms.

Eve turned to Randon. Even in their current dire circumstances, she couldn’t quite ignore the fact that he was too attractive to be hanging out with her—not that she was complaining. He had a Hollywood face and a body to match. More importantly, he was two years older than she was and had one year of magic under his belt, while she had only just discovered her powers. Randon’s face was tense, hard. His eyes narrowed. His father threatened inside also.

“What do you think, Randon?” Eve asked.

“Kai’s probably just as safe with us as out here by himself. He’ll just follow us in.”

Leave her brother outside alone and defenseless, or keep him close? Magic, her parent’s lives in danger, an evil wraith trying to free monsters from Hell—life was a little too weird.


  1. I think I'm hooked. I'd definitley read more to see what happens, and I was intrigued by her parents being held by an agent of hell, but there was a bit too much backstory and not enough action for me. I'd rather some of that info be woven into the story as it happens.

  2. There's a lot going on here, but I'd read on. It's a high bar to start with something that sounds quite like a climax; I'd keep reading to find out what the actual climax is.

  3. The circumstances are very dramatic, but I don't have much of a feel for the characters as people which makes it harder for me to care about them. Maybe it's just a matter of preference--I know for some people starting with high-stakes action seems most important.

  4. It raised some story questions that would keep me reading for a couple of more pages to see what happens.

  5. I would probably read on. I don't get much of a sense of the characters yet, but I am intrigued by the idea.

    I do not really like the last line--"life was a little too weird."

  6. Nice tension in this piece. But the paragraph about Randon slows it down and seems out of place. It sounds more like it belongs in a formula romance. I'd leave her feelings about him till later.

    I find it contradictory that she claims to be in charge of her brother and is then willing to leave his fate in Randon's hands.

    Also I am perplexed by this line: "His father threatened inside also." Inside where? Threatened what or whom?

    Good action. I'd definitely read on to find out what happens once they go in.

  7. For me, personally, there is a little too much going on here for me to be hooked. In the second line, I think I would just go with one of the descriptions in quotations, I liked the middle paragraph that begins with Eve. I was overwhelmed by the last sentence.

    I would say if you changed the second paragraph and the last paragraph, I would have been hooked. I like the setting.

    Best of luck - AK

  8. I think just a touch less backstory\setup and this would be really great. Take the 2nd para - I think it would be more impactful to only say the second 'You're only my sister...'

    In the 5th para, I think you could just stop at 'not that she was complaining.' From that sentence, we get that he's hot, probably older, so I'd skip everything until you get to the '2 years magic under his belt'. The further description of Randon is redundant to me.

    I don't know who's POV we're in until the 5th para.

    Also, in every line of actual dialogue, you use someone's name.

  9. It's a good start, but I'm just not hooked. Maybe it's because I don't have as much sense of Eve as I'd like. And it just feels a little uneven, for what should be a really tense scene. There's something here, but maybe more revision would draw it out - draw Even out more. :}

  10. Sorry, not hooked.

    I wanted to stop reading at the info-dump about the parents being held by an agent of Hell. I think you could remove that whole thing and not hurt your story.

    Then I hit the info-dump about Randon. And that did it for me.

    I think if you let the story flow without trying to catch us up immediately on what's happening it would make me more intrigued.

    I hope this feedback helps. Good luck.

  11. Parents being held in hell si damn good hook for YA.
    I have a couple little sugestions for your consideration.
    The face...should be, A face.
    Than Kai, should be than him. (since he's telling the story).
    I think Kai should refer Randon standing by his sister, and perhaps be peaved by it, beacause it will make his later mention less abrupt.
    All in all, hooked.

  12. Sorry, not hooked. I feel there's more telling than showing, especially in the last paragraph. I'm just not interested in the characters at this point.

  13. I thought it was in Kai's pov because you started with him, but then it switches to Eve's. So I'm thinking maybe it was Eve's the whole time.

    In the second paragraph I wasn't sure if that was you as the author telling us that or if a character was thinking that. You need to work on that one.

    I didn't realize there was another person standing there until Eve refers to Randon. You might want to mention him earlier.

    High stakes doesn't mean much until we care about the characters. Maybe you need to back up a little in the story.

    Good luck.

  14. I'm on the fence. "His father threatened inside also" doesn't really make sense. And in the last sentence, I see where you're going, but it's a bit too mild to get the impact I believe you're going for. I got that we were in Eve's POV.

  15. I think you have a good setup, but at this point I'm not hooked. It feels like a lot of backstory/telling, and I found myself bogged down in the details. I also find it hard to believe she'd be reflecting on how hot Randon is when her parents are being held by an agent of Hell, and "weird" seems a bit soft and philosophica for the experience she is having.

  16. I'm on the fence. Not sure if I am hooked.

    Overall, I'm curious about a few things, like the "agent of Hell" and "ritual that kills people" bits, but the the paragraph where you're describing Randon seems a bit much given the "dire circumstances" so you kind of lost me there.

  17. I like the setting, but the writing didn't hook me. The problems I had were the same as most of the other comments.

    The POV is unclear at the beginning. You need to indicate right away that Eve is speaking that first line.

    And then there is too much info-dump/backstory that pulls the reader out.

    This should be a tense scene, Eve's parents are in danger, but I'm not feeling that tension.

  18. I'm sorry... not hooked. But that's all personal preference (PP) mainly.

    Pushing the PP stuff aside, I think this could be tightened up a little bit.

    This also feels a little like a midbook chapter beginning. I feel like I've missed a lot of stuff. :[

  19. WHOA! Hold on! I feel absolutely dropped out of an airplane with this one. It's good to have action to pull the reader in, but I feel like you may be jumping in at the wrong spot. I need to know what's going on without a ton of backstory to get me there.

    Also, the reference to Randon being too good looking seemed incongruous and made Eve seem like the most superficial girl alive. Also, they're "hanging out"? Aren't they trying to rescue Eve's parents? These are pretty easy to fixes, though. The big thing is that you probably need to start the story earlier.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

  20. Definitely hooked. Great tension and character voice and action right off the bat! Kai seems like a great character already! The only thing that threw me off was the part where you stopped the action and tension to allow Eve to talk about Randon's physical attributes. It seems very out of place in this scene, and there wasn't anything in here that can't be moved to a less-tense scene, IMHO.

    But yes, I'd absolutely read on!

  21. To me there are some great things in here, but they're slightly wasted in telling. If this were a sequel to something then I'd be OK with it as a reminder and a way to move into the story fast, but as a start you're losing some of the potential to grab me. I guess maybe you're going to go back and tell us how you got here, but could you consider showing these things to us, or even starting with the capture of the parents?

  22. I'm interested, though the MC does seem a little blasse about everything. All that going on and life is only a little too weird. Now that's an understatement. She seems more interested in the hot guy (not that I blame her).

  23. The writing here doesn't seem strong enough for me to want to read more. Whether it's a typo or an unclear thought, "His father threatened inside also" is very awkward, and I question if a girl whose parents had been kidnapped would really leave her 11-year-old brother alone on a Roman street.

    Not hooked.

  24. I'm not really hooked, but I tend to be suspicious of books that feature kids rescuing their parents from harm.

    I also tripped momentarily over Randon -- I thought she was turning to her brother, and I was confused why Eve would think he was too attractive to hang out with. I hadn't attached "Kai" to "brother" enough by that point. Maybe some description, like "Eve turned to her friend Randon" or something?

  25. The angel of hell made me sit up, but it was all a bit infodumpy for me. Could it perhaps start as they're entering the building or wherever the parents are being held?

  26. I just read the other comments, and I also liked McKoala's suggestion of starting with the capture of the parents. Either way, I don't think this is the right place to start the story - it either needs to be earlier or later.

  27. Your opening page has the opposite problem of several others that we've seen: The action starts too abruptly. Right now, I'm honestly not too worried that Kai and Eve's parents are trapped in hell, because they both annoy me just a little. Try building up a little reader sympathy for the siblings first--and then damn their parents:)

  28. I thought the writing was a bit stilted, especially the dialogue. I didn't like the last paragraph - too obvious. The idea is interesting and with a lot of editing, I think this could work.

  29. Almost, but not quite. Stick with the action on the first page--we don't need to know the backstory. Show not tell--trading a quick, not irresistable hook for action, character, setting, etc. Don't go for the easy out :)

  30. Time to confess. This is my first 3rd intimate POV--ever. 2nd, this is actually a forward flash of chapter 18. This was mentioned as a story line model in a workshop at Univ of IA and I really wanted to try it. The next page, read: 4days earlier... so it's like a movie trailer, then goes back to A to Z plot line. It's used so often in media that I wanted to try it.

    This is a learning piece. Yes, I'm shopping it, but not expecting anything... although it's a DaVinci Code for kids placed in Rome. (I didn't know the movie was coming out, I swear!) And I got to feed my conspiracy mind and go wild! I started and finished the first draft in Jill Santapolo's class, which was AWESOME! Highly recommended!

    The whole manuscript is a tight time line with clues, rituals, deaths, etc.

    Randon's bit --cut way back. THANK YOU! You were 100% on the money.

    Parent info bit --edited.

    possible confusion on POV fixed to just make sure.

    I wish we had a way to post our corrected pages for feedback. I'd be willing to read others work in exchange!

    Thank you again.

  31. Sounds too Harry Potterish to me. Also, I might wait to introduce Randon. The dire situation of the MC's parents combined with talking about how attractive Randon is makes both seem less important. Not hooked.