Wednesday, July 15, 2009

14 Secret Agent

TITLE: The City of Fallen Flesh
GENRE: YA dystopian

The sound of the town alarm was what startled me from my sleep that morning. Oh great. We were on lockdown until further notice now. A huge smile spread across my face anyway. Lockdown didn’t apply to me – not if I didn’t get caught.

I didn’t bother to shower. I quickly brushed my teeth at the same time as I hopped out of my pyjamas and threw on the clothes I’d dumped on the floor yesterday. The sun hadn’t risen yet, which meant hardly anyone would be awake to witness my escape plan. Excellent. Shoving my brunette hair into a messy bun, I grabbed my door keys and was flying out of my bedroom without a second thought.

Until I ran straight into my older sister.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Ah crap. “Nowhere.”

She raised one of those perfectly trimmed eyebrows of hers. I swear, my sister was so beautiful it was annoying. There was no one in the town whose beauty compared to hers. She had this amazing brown, glowing skin, with long, dark hair and hazel eyes. And she didn’t get spots either. Cow.

“You’re sneaking out, aren’t you?” she demanded.


She let out a sigh. “Melody,” she started, putting both hands on my shoulders. “I worry about you. Why don’t you just let the Guard do what they need to do and stay in here where you’re supposed to be?”

“You don’t need to worry about me. I just wanted some juice.”


  1. You did a good job of pulling me in. I get the idea this girl works to save the town secretly. You've done a good job with hints of the plot.

    I think you could tighten up and stay focused on the main plot line, maybe get rid of a few sidebar comments. Make sure you keep your voice though - you've done a good job there.

    Hope that helps. Good luck. Oh, and yes, I would read on :)

  2. I like the voice and the immediate conflict of not getting caught in the lockdown.

    The contrast between the MC's "messy bun" and her sister's "perfectly trimmed eyebrows" was a clear differentiator between the characters too. It made it clear that they were not alike at all. Your continued comments on the sister's beauty was distracting though, not that I didn't laugh at the "Cow." comment.

    I liked this overall. Good job! I'd keep reading.

  3. I'm hooked enough to keep reading. It needs to be condensed in a few places where it gets a little bogged down with detail.

  4. I'm hooked. But then, I love this genre.

    One thing - if she was awoken by the town alarm, why wouldn't everyone be? "Hardly anyone would be awake." Why not?

    I like the conflict with the sister, and the voice, and I'm wondering what it is that the guard needs to do.

  5. Personal note: This actually reminds me of somebody who is having OCD problems w/r to hiking exercise. Compulsion to run out at any time, including middle of the night.

    The other thing, and I haven't looked at the other comments but guess you already heard this = beginning with somebody waking up is one of those cliches which gets bashed on a lot. Might actually work if you skipped the 'waking up' or brushed over that detail as much as possible.

  6. The sound of the town alarm was what startled me from my sleep that morning.

    I actually wouldn't have got further than this sentence because it's so clumsy. Why 'was what'? Why not just: The town alarm woke me... Why not give us some idea what the alarm sound slike - n a wail? a bell? a buzz? How rare is it to hear the alarm? How does it make her feel? Make your first sentence work a bit harder.

  7. there is definitely a voice there... but I want your first paragraph to GRAB me more.

  8. I like the concept, but the execution got in the way of my being hooked because I was distracted by areas in need of revision.

    Some of the details are interesting, but on whole it felt distracting to have physical descriptions of the protagonist and her sister. It didn't feel natural at all - more like, "Hey reader, I want you to know the character has..."

    You set up some nice urgency with the alarm, but I wondered why everyone wasn't awakened by it? And if she is rushing to sneak out, why bother brushing her teeth or commenting on the color of her hair or her sister's appearance? Those thoughts didn't flow from the action.

    So, concept could work with more revision. And I wouldn't read on as drafted, but if I was in your crit group I'd want to see you work on it so I could read a later version. :}

    good luck with this.

  9. I recognize this. :)

    In looking at it in regards to just these first few words though, I would note that if an alarm woke up the MC, that probably means that people would indeed be awake to witness her escape plan.

    Note: One of the things that originally hooked me was the great title. Title isn't too important at the querying stage, but having a great one doesn't hurt.

  10. Ooh you're right everyone. It's supposed to mean awake and out of their house haha. I'll reword that now.
    Hi, Secret Agent! ;)

  11. The title to your book caught my eye.

    That said, I think this sounds good, and I'm hooked, but you need to watch out for "was" and "just". It's easy to overuse them.

    Great job!

  12. As soon as you mentioned that lockdown didn't apply to your MC, I was interested. I love a little mischief.

    That said, there are a few places you could really tighten this up. When you say she's brushing her teeth at the same time as she undressed and redressed, you could shorten it. "I brushed my teeth while I scrambled into my dirty clothes from yesterday." -That's just one example. Sometimes eliminating the -ly words and -hads really makes an image more concrete.

    Also, "hardly anyone would be awake to witness my escape." You don't need "plan." Actually, an escape plan is a thing, while escape is the act, so your addition of plan threw me off.

    But you have a nice conflict here between your MC, her sister, and the Guard. Good job. I'd keep reading.

  13. I'm hooked, and I wanted to know how the character would escape from the city.
    One thing I wasn't sure of, what period of time is this set in? If the town is in lockdown, and there is guards, it seems to me that the story is set in the Medieval ages. Yet, for some reason, the term 'town alarm' suggested modern times. I think you should clarify that.

  14. I loved the title, and I liked the idea, but the writing was a problem.

    First, she complains about lockdown, then tells us it doens't matter. If it doesn't matter to her, why complain?

    The siren wakes her but nobody else. And yet her sister is only not up, but dressed, too.

    She shoves her brunette hair into a messy bun. Have you ever said, "I think I'll put my brunette hair in a bun today?" Nobody thinks of their hair color like that.

    There was too much of that type of thing for me to read on. Make the writing cleaner and more logical, and you'd probably have me.