Wednesday, April 15, 2009

42 Secret Agent

TITLE: Frosty
GENRE: YA (Fantasy)

I’d give anything on earth to be twelve again. Or thirteen. Even fourteen. But fifteen?


“Why not?” she asked, elbows pressing into the table. A bulb swayed above us, casting her face in shadows as the weak light reflected off her badge. A second Officer stood against the wall with his arms crossed, watching in silence.

I had no answer. Never did, never would. What use were words when no one believed anything I said?

I took a deep breath and started at the beginning again.

Summer vacation began seven hours, thirty-one minutes ago. It took twenty-seven minutes to walk home.

Seven hours, four minutes until now; until this singular, terrible moment.

My mother left to run errands, leaving me to watch my sister, Holly.

“Did that bother you?” Long fingers drummed; metallic echoes filled the room as her fingernails struck the table.

Six hours, fourteen minutes ago. After a snack, I sat down at my computer, Holly playing on the floor next to me as always. Five hours, fifty-six minutes.

Holly went to the bathroom. Five hours, fifty-three minutes. I went to the bathroom. Five hours, fifty-one minutes.

“You left her alone?”

Khaki shorts and a blue polo shirt, her school uniform she loved so much she even wore it on weekends. Dark hair, darker than mine, tied up with the pink bow my mother always forced on her. Brown eyes. Three feet, eight inches tall. Forty-one pounds. Six and a half years old today, June 25th. Our Christmas miracle, the baby sister I’d never wanted.


  1. Very intrigued. It's a little hard to follow when each person is talking or when it's in flashback, but I'd love to see where this is going!

  2. I really like this. Very unique way to start, imo.

    I felt a little miffed at the police officer for scolding her for going to the bathroom. Gee whiz. (That's not a criticism, it's a praise. I felt for this poor girl!)

    I'd keep reading.

  3. Very well written. I like how you've set this up. I want to know what happened to her sister, where she went. I also like the countdown! I'd read on!

  4. I do want to know what happened but I had a hard time following. The officer is having a conversation with her, but none of the mc's answers are in quotes. So is she narrating, thinking, or can the cop mindread?

    Long fingers drummed and fingernails struck the table are repetitive.

    All the counting down was distracting for me. Is this a flashback or really happening? The story idea seems neat but I can't get a grasp on it.

  5. Very nicely written. I did wonder why the MC's lines to the police weren't in quotes. I'd like to 'hear' the acutal dialogue between them. I liked the flash of hours and all, but it got a little repetitive. Maybe just not quite so many.

    I'd read on though to see what happened. Great job.

  6. "Our Christmas miracle, the baby sister I’d never wanted." Tee, hee.

    I like the count down to now. If that is throughout the story--very cool.

    I liked your descriptions. And I liked "Long fingers drummed; metallic echoes filled the room as her fingernails struck the table." and didn't find it repetitive.

    I'm hooked.

  7. I think the story was well written. I didn't find the numbers distracting at all, and I thought it was very unique to start a novel in this way that promises to be a very good read.

  8. Loved the countdown. I definitely want to know what happens. It's as if you've mastered the "24" school of writing. Ticking clock, good pace = interest.

  9. Well done! I love the tension created by the interrogation scene. I'm dying to know what happened to Holly. I had a little trouble with the hours counting down as I found myself stopping to look back at how much time had passed since the last countdown. Otherwise, I'm completely hooked.

  10. I liked the tension. I would read on.
    Some critters referred to the mc as a her. I didn't see a pronoun referrence. I assumed it was a boy, I don't know why.

  11. I remember this from a previous contest. I found this difficult to follow because of the way you describe the time passing. Perhaps you might consider describing the actual scene rather than her being questioned by the police afterwards? It might make this more readable and would certainly be very dramatic. I think flashbacks are very often less compelling than being in the middle of the action when it happen.

    Good luck!

  12. I remember this also, and I'm still confused about that first question. Why would the officer ask if he wanted to be fifteen again? And in answer to "why not?" he starts a story at the beginning. So, in actuality, their conversations went like this:

    "Would you like to be 15?"
    "Why not?"
    "Summer vacation started seven hours ago."

    I guess I'm just too literal for my own good. I really like your style, I just think it needs a logical base from which to grow. I like the countdown and the variation of quotes and memories. And I liked the rest of this that you posted in the 1000 words thingy. Good luck!

  13. I think this goes back to my ancient hatred of math. I got hung up on all the numbers listed off here.

    I am curious what happened though<<:

  14. I'm interested in where this is going, but I had a hard time following what was going on.

    It felt a little disconnected to me, but maybe that's because the MC's responses are not in quotes? (goes back to the following issue.)

    But I think I'd still keep going to see what happens.

    Good luck!

  15. OMG. You've entered this so many times I'm getting bored of it.

    I liked it before but now it's just plain confusing. You have your MC take a deep breath and start at the beginning but he or she doesn't actually talk. She just does the internal monologging thing yet the individual drumming her fingernails seems to know what the MC is thinking. I did like the fingernail drumming description, though.

    In the beginning the MC say, "No." Uh . . . what was the real question? Was she answering out loud her own question? "But fifteen?"

    Sorry, no longer hooked. The dumb thing is, what enticed me to keep reading last time (1,000 word crit), turned me off this time. Go figure.

    Good luck!

  16. Hmm...I remember this one, too, and I'm still not really hooked. The time drops confuse me, more than support the pace you're trying to establish. It's more confusing than anything else, I'm afraid. Though I did really like that last line.

    Good luck!

  17. I like this, I've never seen it so I'm looking at it with fresh eyes.

    My only crit is the numbers and counting are overdone, I think in this case less would be more.

    I'd keep reading, nice building of tension.

    Good luck - AK

  18. I hadn't seen this before, and I was a bit confused at the stucture. I couldn't tell what was conversation, from internal thoughts, from narrative prose. So that made it hard to connect with. Though one of the comments mentioned it was a boy, I thought the voice sounded like a teen girl.

    The countdown is ok, if it is clearly narrative or dialog or internal thoughts, but ambiguous I was just confused.

    And I also felt that for what should be a tense scene, ie, getting questioned by an officer (and why wasn't a parent prsent if the MC is 15?), it didn't feel tense.

    I'd advise reworking to clarify and add tension.

  19. I agree with most of what people said about being confused. The one thing I'd say is, if you're going for something stylistic, at the very least, be consistent so the reader has an easy time catching onto the pattern and following you. Like, with the timestamps. First they're just in the beginning. Ok, fine. Then they're after, or two right next to each other. Stick with one cue. Like the time goes in front and that means you're, I don't know, stating something that has to do with the officer, if it doesn't have that marker then it's something else. Does that make sense? I was also confused about the quotes thing. i liked the last line though!

  20. I think this is both a good place to start, and an interesting technique to introduce the story. Like this one.

  21. Really loved your opening sentence.

    Got a little confused after that- I wondered who "she" was. I was thinking the mom? then a psychiatrist? Is this a backflash?

    I think its OK to just say the police officer (it is an officer, right?) so I can get what's going on- I would still be intrigued, thinking oh! the police!

  22. I wouldn't mind reading this story in another format, but the way you're telling it here doesn't work for me. You're wasting words with all the numbers -- I'd rather get into the story. As it is, it feels like you're deliberately delaying beginning your book.

    Get to the story faster.

    I don't mind as much the internal monologue type style, which reminds me of a noir mystery.

  23. I still (this was in the 1,000 words, right?) think the countdown is too much. And I find the "You left her alone?" comment a bit silly. She's six years old and can be left alone long enough for her sister (I'm guessing) to go to the bathroom. I was more hooked with the 1,000 words but with just 250, not hooked.

  24. I like your last paragraph, but was confused somewhat by the rest. I think for this style to work, you need to keep it consistent - every thought must follow a question from the officer.

    That first line seems especially out of place, and I don't think you need it. I'd just start with the "why not" and find another way to reveal her age. Revealing this is a flashback right away is kind of a turn-off to me anyway. I'd rather not discover that until I'm too invested in the story to care.

    I like the countdown, but you might be overdoing it. It also needs to be very clear and consistent which event goes with each time point, and it's not right now.

  25. Different take. The first line just turned me off. If the ticking clock is important though, why not set them apart. Like '24' does?

  26. At first the style piqued my interest, but after the second time reference I started forgetting about the story and spending more energy doing the math in my head, it's very distracting. Then at the end, you completely break from the story to give us a description, which interrupts any flow that may have existed. While I appreciate that you're trying to build a picture of the little girl for the reader, I really don't care exactly how tall she is, or how much she weighs. There are much more creative ways to describe a person's physical attributes.