Wednesday, April 15, 2009

8 Secret Agent

GENRE: YA paranormal romance

I stood in front of the high school, alone, and watched people trek
from the parking lot to the stadium. A family wearing Parkman Panthers
shirts like mine and carrying a blanket they wouldn’t need. Two
freshmen with their hair streaked blue and gold.

I tapped my foot. This was stupid. I should just go home.

A piece of paper blew against my leg, then stuck under my tapping foot.

Haunted House, Free Today Only was scrawled across the top.

The horror movie set-up flashed into my mind. Lonely girl goes to
haunted house and winds up dead, or worse. Eaten by a zombie? Turned
into a werewolf? The other way around? I had no clue, I avoided scary
movies. Maybe zombie werewolves?

I shook my head and tossed the flyer in the trash. I wasn’t going to a
haunted house. Not by myself, not ever. I’d never understood people
who scared themselves for fun.

My cell phone beeped. Finally. I dug it out of my purse and flipped it open.

Low battery, recharge soon blinked twice, then the screen went blank.

I just stared at it. The first strands of the band’s pre-game show wafted over.

Okay, enough.

I shoved the phone in my purse and started across the parking lot, not
toward my car, but the sidewalk. Maybe not the best plan, but at least
taking a walk was something to do, and I always felt better with my
body in motion.


  1. I so wanted this to hook me, the writing was really good, but I didn't get a good sense of where this was going. I'd probably give it another couple of pages to see where it goes, and I really liked the fact that she didn't fall for the typical horror movie set up :) Smart heroines are a good thing!

  2. I second Gillian -- I wanted to be hooked, but felt it was a mishmash of things that I couldn't figure out. Is she waiting for someone? Is she planning something for the game? Is she just lonely? I'd read on to figure things out, but if answers weren't given soon, I'd probably stop.

  3. I wasn't hooked, though the writing was good.

  4. The voice has potential, but I wasn't hooked. It didn't feel like anything was happening and I didn't get a clear idea of the setup - what's going on with this character, what does she want, etc. Lots of nice details showing personality, though.

  5. I thought this was cute. I think your fifth paragraph needs some attention, to me this sentence:

    Lonely girl goes to haunted house and winds up dead, or worse. Eaten by a zombie?

    didn't quite work, I think it's the ending with: at worse, made it seem like the period appeared to abruptly.

    I'm guessing she's waiting for a boy and something scary is going to happen. I like scary so even though I'm not totally hooked, I like it and I'd keep reading. Good work. -AK

  6. Agree with above. I like the idea that she's in the parking lot getting stood up, but not crazy about the thought tangent. Of course, on page two we may learn that it's crucial to the plot ;-).

  7. I'm pretty much with the above. Your style and voice is great. It's not overloaded, but a nice mesh of character and description. I would definately read on, but need some 'action' or plot point soon.

  8. I love your voice here and unlike a lot of people I don't feel like I need to be propelled wildly in the first thirty seconds of reading a book. I just learned a lot about her and the setup here has a lot of potential. I'm perfectly content to keep reading and find out what it is.

  9. If I'm going to get to everything I have to read, I have to be blunt sometimes, and call it quits. This is an opening page that would get the axe, just because I don't feel like anything happens. Sure, I know some stuff about the girl -- she forgot to charge her phone, she doesn't like being scared, she's being stood up -- but those are THINGS, not personality.

    I would pass.

  10. There is some interesting tone here, and with some revision, might be a really sharp opening. But as is, I'm not sucked in and a little confused.

    Also, I found the voice and the tenses a little inconsistent.

    But I think there's something here, and if you were in my crit group I'd be telling to keep at this, figure out how to get to the heart of her a little quicker so that the reader is engaged enough to keep going. :}

  11. I so loved the voice, but, like everyone else, it seemed a little bit rambling and I wasn't sure what the point was. But I really liked the voice.

  12. Hmm . . . this didn't quite do it for me. I'm not sure I care enough about the character to want to read more . . . especially if she's going to take a walk (which sounds pretty boring). I'm guessing something must happen on the walk . . . could you start with whatever happens? Make it exiting for the reader and give them something to make them keep reading.

    the Genre is Paranormal romance so there has to be some pretty freakish things going on somewhere . . . let's get to them sooner. =D

  13. I thought the dead cell phone was a little too pat. I am also left wondering what's going on -- is there a haunted house at the stadium that she's avoiding? Is the haunted house just something else altogether? What's the deal with the blanket? It's more confusion than curiosity though. I'm not really hooked.

    I did really like this part: "I had no clue, I avoided scary movies. Maybe zombie werewolves?" It made me laugh and gave me the one tiny clue that I might like the MC's sense of humor.

  14. I've seen this one before. I think I liked the last version where she's walking home and passes the haunted house. This version... I'm not sure. The character comes across as dithering and you're tossing the setup together.

  15. I would read on, because I know she's going in that haunted house.

  16. Having someone wait around isn't really starting where the action begins and maybe not even where the story begins. It might be the catalyst that starts the chain of events, but I don't think this is where the real story begins. Therefore, I am not hooked. Yet.

    I think things are going to take off in a few more pages. Maybe start there?

  17. Your MC is good, and the excerpt is well written overall. I'm interested to find out who/what she is waiting for. With the mention of 'scary stuff' and her going on a walk ALONE, I expect something spooky to happen soon.

    So the setting is interesting, I don't know much about the MC yet, but the overall situation is mildly intriguing and I want to know more.

  18. Not really hooked- sorry. The two incomplete sentence fragments in the first paragraph threw me off more than anything, and just standing around waiting for a phone call isn’t a strong hook, IMHO. Maybe give us more foreshadowing on why this call is so important to make us (the reader) wonder about it.

  19. I like your style and voice. I'd keep reading, but think this could be tightened to create more suspense. They flyer made me think of the haunted house as a tourist attraction with free entry today.
    I like a hint of the 'paranormal' element revealed in 'action' up front.
    Stay with it.

  20. I've read this opening before. From what I can remember, there were some things that needed fixed, but there was also a sense that something menacing was about to happen. I don't really get that here.

    I think the emotion needs to be a bit stronger perhaps. You need a compelling reason for her to go on that walk (or at least that's how I remember it), but at the moment it's like she's just going for a stroll because she has nothing better to do.

  21. Something desperately needs to happen.

  22. I liked the style of this but I don't have a sense of the girl. Why is she alone? Why is she at the game? I would read a page or two but something would have to happen quickly for me to care.

  23. I liked this one. It sounds like the kind of movie where you yell at the characters--"Don't do it!"

    The first paragraph sets up the situation but does nothing for making the character...I don't want to read about AnyGirl!