Wednesday, April 15, 2009

41 Secret Agent

GENRE: YA paranormal

Mr. Larkin and I were not going to make it through an entire semester
of sophomore English together. Not unless he decided to stop talking.

Day number three of the Shakespearian voyage had me white-knuckling my
desk just to keep from screaming that he was for seriously confused
about the difference between studying the Middle Ages and acting like
he came from them. For. Seriously.

In an attempt to fully tune him out, I ran an ear bud under my shirt
and cranked the volume on my iPod. Unfortunately, this meant I missed
the voice paging me over the classroom speaker until people started
looking at me. "Mr. Larkin, please release Nicole Dupont to Principal
Weaver’s office immediately."

Not good.

School had barely started for the year, I hadn’t met Weaver yet, and
as far as I knew, high school principals weren’t known for taking a
special interest in new kids. Except maybe for students like me.

Pretending like the entire class wasn’t staring at me, I hitched my
tote onto my shoulder and headed for the main office where a secretary
pointed me past her desk. I stopped in front of Weaver’s office and
smoothed out my skirt. Whatever this meeting was about, I had to make
a good impression on the guy. Had to. I took a deep breath before knocking.


  1. VERY good! I definitely want to read more. The voice is young and I'm curious as to where you live because words like "for. seriously." and "tote" are unusual.

    But great intro!

  2. I liked this too. I almost thought "for seriously" sounded a bit too young for a sophomore in high school, but maybe I'm out of touch with the lingo.

    Also, because I have a super short attention span, I wanted you to be specific in that second to the last paragraph. "Except maybe for students like me who [insert why she's weird here]."

    Still, I liked it and would read on.

  3. Intriguing. I'd like to read more.

  4. This seems to open to a pretty good story. I would read more to see what happens.

  5. The title definitely grabbed my attention. The writing is good and I'm getting a sense of the character. I would read more.

  6. The only thing that tripped me up was the For. Seriously.

    I liked this. The flow is good, as is the voice, and there was just enough there to keep me reading.

    I want to know what makes Nicole different.

    One negative: You may run into problems with one cliched element – the girl starting at the new school thing.

  7. Your first paragraph hooked me. One small detail: perhaps you want to change the "Middle Ages" reference to the "Renaissance," if you're referring back to Shakespeare. It's a tiny detail, but one that caught my attention and brought me out of the story. Nice voice.

  8. I like it. Good voice.

  9. I loved the voice! I'd turn the page to read more. Great start!

  10. "Not unless he decided to stop talking." I liked this. Made me smile.

    As well, dropping the 'Mr.' from Mr. Weaver is a good detail--real to teens.

    I'm curious why she has to make a good impression. However, it would be nice to have a slightly stronger hook. You've got a good voice, but you need to really nail that hook. "Except maybe for students like me." And...? Can you give us a tiny taste? Please? (Without giving it all away--of course.)

    I would read at least another paragraph--meet the principal.

    You seem to have teens down--that's good.


  11. Holy revision! Good job! It's much more intriguing and the voice is a lot more punchy. It seems that you are going to get to the mystery part much sooner.

    A couple of nits - the "for seriously" stopped me. I've never heard that phrasing before and I have kids of all different ages. Also, if she slipped in one earbud, she would have heard the announcement with the other ear. The last nit is in her reaction to being summoned to the principal's office. If she's new, I'm not sure it would be that surprising. If she'd already met with him, then she might be more worried. If you give more specificity to her worry, it will tell us more who she is.

    Good job! I'd read on.

  12. Love the first paragraph.

    Great voice, though I tripped up on the "for seriously" part, too. I've heard it before, but I'm not sure how much I'd want that style of speech in internal monologue. Your character's voice and attitude comes across so well without lingo that might distract some readers.

  13. I agree-the "For. Seriously." confused the heck out of me. Just "Seriously." would have worked fine. The Middle Ages comment also made me stop. I think Emily suggested Renaissance and that seems perfect. I loved her edgy attitude and you showed it nicely with the iPod and the use of just Weaver. I really want to know what happens in that office ;o).

  14. I For. One. Loved the 'For. Seriously.' Followed up as it was by the 'not good.' It didn;t bother me at all that I'd not heard it before. I just assumed the protag is seriously hipper than me. Great voice, I totally want to know what kids like her are.

  15. I love the second sentence and vivid phrases like "white knuckling." Great title. I would definitely keep reading.

  16. Excellent. great voice. screams YA. Good intro into the character. Fun! I'd definitely read on to find out what was going on. Great job!

  17. I really liked this and would read on - great job!

    Your first paragraph had me chuckling and ready to tuck into the story. Regarding the 'for seriously', when I read it in the first sentence of the second paragraph I thought the 'for' was a typo and it took me out of the story. When you later go: "For. Seriously." that worked for me.

    Good luck!

  18. Great opening! Good voice. I'd read on.

  19. I agree with Shannon: first thought typo. Like the voice, though. Besides that one bit I enjoyed your intro.

  20. Tripped up on "for seriously" also there were other wording issues that could be nudged or smoothened out.

  21. Great voice, very natural. I already like the Nicole and I'm curious about where you are going with this. Loved the detail of running the ipod ear bud through her shirt, and the fact that we already have the start of a conflict. The title is also wonderful. I would read on!

  22. I'm intrigued. The voice feels genuine for the MC and there's a good hook in the "Had to." line. Yup, I'd read on!

    Thanks for sharing!

  23. Interesting voice and cadence to this. I'd read on, at least a few more pages, to see what was coming.

    I will say the for seriously stood out to me, but I noted it as possibly indicating an alternate world. So, if this is contenmporary America as we know it, I'm not sure that works. But if not, it was a nice subtle hint.

    Also, I too think the new school and being called to the prinicpal are a little cliched, but if the rest works I think it would be fine.

    I also was surprised she got away with putting in earbuds, even threaded under her shirt...

    but nice start. :}

  24. This is great! The voice is authentic and the story pulls us in immediately. I am intrigued by what makes her different and would definately want to read on to find out more!

  25. I like this. I have to admit, "for seriously" threw me off. I think I'd like a little more info on what the teacher is actually doing that's so annoying. How is he acting like he's in the middle ages? Also, if he's not that important to the story, maybe you shouldn't start with him. I was expecting something more to happen in the class, but then she leaves to go to the principal.

    Just some thoughts. Overall, good writing.

    Good luck!

  26. I'm hooked. The first four paragraphs were a great introduction to the story, and then the fifth (combined with the title) really reeled me in with its final sentence. Great voice, great rhythm, as others have already pointed out.

    One nit-picky point: The first "for seriously" really tripped me up (it wasn't until I was reading the comments that I realized it wasn't a typo).

  27. No, sorry, not hooked. There's too much here that is off-putting. I think using slang like "for seriously" too often can be as much a turn-off for agents and editors as using dialect.

    Also, it's "Shakespearean," not -ian, and the period is neither the Middle Ages nor the Renaissance, but officially Elizabethan.

    All in all, I just didn't connect with this voice.

  28. Thanks for the wonderfully specific feedback. Nothing helps quite as much as knowing what exactly works and what doesn't. As my goal is precisely the opposite of turning agents off, I'll be making adjustments accordingly.

    Thank you, thank you.

    The Author

  29. I liked this in the beginning but then it seemed to drag. I like the writing style (except for "For. Seriously." I'd read a couple more pages.

  30. Actually I liked it. I thought the first two paragraphs were punchy. I had to reread the for. seriously bit, but this just served to help me believe the MC was a teen.

    You've set up that she's going to be a misfit here very neatly. Good job

  31. This sounds like your typical teenage novel. Though I am wondering what is so different about this MC, so I'd read further to find out.

    But I'm not completely hooked.

    Keep working.

  32. I like your opening sentences and am curious where the story is going.

    For the most part the voice is good, but I didn't like the "for seriously."

    **"Mr. Larkin, please release Nicole Dupont to Principal
    Weaver’s office immediately."**--If she couldn't hear the announcement, then it doesn't make sense to have this. And it doesn't make sense for the office to be repeating it, since they wouldn't know she wasn't listening, if that's what you were going for.

  33. I was hooked. Great voice! And seeing that the genre is paranormal only intrigues me more.

  34. Liked, I'd read more.

    One snag in particular.... Main character turned up iPod and couldn't hear the announcement. Then how did he find out what the announcement said? Did a fellow student elbow him and tell him? Did the teacher draw a long sword and point it directly at the main character and tell him? Joking there, but in keeping with the Middle Ages theme. *smiling*

    Actually I'd like the others looking at him to lead to a "WWWhhatt?" comment. Can't believe the number of times I hear that question around young people!

  35. The first sentence is good, I can relate to that ... then it falls on its face. Thanks to typos, incorrect historical references and bad teen lingo, I wouldn't read on. Also, if you're going to advertise the story as "paranormal" that would be a good thing to put in here. As it is, the one passing reference to "students like me" isn't enough to grab me.