Wednesday, July 15, 2009

37 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Ward
GENRE: YA Mystery

According to the information packet I received during the summer, I had a roommate named Lamont Spencer. When I plunged under the covers that first night at Ward Academy, Lamont’s bed was still in pristine condition, sheets tucked carefully under the mattress. When my alarm shrilled the following morning, the sheets were scrunched in a messy ball at the end of her bed. She’d slept there at some point and departed before 6:30 AM.

The mere existence of her stuff told me Lamont must be a real person. A bean-bag chair, an antique desk, and photos arranged artfully across the wall. They depicted a pretty brunette arm-in-arm with a handsome guy in a suit; the same brunette in a different dress with other girls in a limo; then the brunette in a gown with her beaming parents.

She obviously loved wearing dresses. We already had nothing whatsoever in common. I’d never donned a ballroom gown in my life, much less been invited to some formal occasion requiring one. My jeans usually were tattered at the ends because I never found a pair quite short enough for my legs, and my mother considered tailors a frivolous waste of hard-earned money. Unfortunately, neither Mom nor I could hem, so my appearance was a perpetual testament to my lack of sophistication.

And Lamont… well, she looked like exactly the kind of person who attended New England boarding schools such as Ward. Sophisticated. Polished.

I shouldn’t feel so relieved she hadn’t introduced herself yet.


  1. This definitely intrigues me... but I think you could combine your first and second paragraph... they kind of say the same thing.

    I am hooked though... and TOTALLY want to read more... is she a ghost? A workout fiend? I definitely would read on!

  2. This sets the stage really well, although I'm a bit confused as to whether or not Lamont's stuff was already there. If not, then the sudden appearance of her things is really quite startling! If they are there already I can't imagine your protagonist NOT peeking and just giving us a glimpse. A little more clarity but otherwise a fun read and I'd keep going.

  3. I'm hooked. Nice voice, and great detail about the frayed jean bottoms because no one can hem. I'd read on.

  4. "I'm a sucker for a short heroine," says Lucy, who is short and has frayed hems. I do think the part about all the stuff suddenly appearing in the middle of the night (right?) could be clarified, because that's strange and interesting.

  5. I like this. I'm definitely interested in these characters and want to know what's going to happen and how their relationship will develop.

  6. I'm not totally buying the "must be a real person" bit if her stuff is in the room.

    Maybe a more plausible and interesting question is, what kind of person keeps these odd hours?

    Also, there's some description redundancy. "pristine condition, sheets tucked carefully under the mattress" says the same thing twice.

    "scrunched in a messy ball" - could remove "messy"

    "nothing whatsoever in common" - cut whatsoever

    "frivolous waste of hard-earned money" - cut either frivolous or hard-earned

    "she looked like exactly the kind of person who attended New England boarding schools such as Ward." - this is a tell. I'd prefer it if you described her straight-up without relying on the stereotype, and let me form my own conclusions. This way you're giving me the conclusion before the description.

  7. I love the sounds of this. Yes, I would definitely read on.

  8. Hooked. I think the character is coming through very strong so far, and I like the way you are giving us characteristics of the MC in interesting ways (tattered hems vs. I'm 5'2").

    I think you could show us that she doesn't like her roomie so far with a snarky comment re: her already being gone at 6:30am rather than telling us with the last line.

    I agree with Courtney Abruzzo about the confusion over if the stuff was there before or not.

    Nice subject--YA readers love boarding school stories!

  9. I was hooked from the moment she said her jeans were tattered because her legs were so short ;-)

  10. I'd keep reading.

    "The mere existence of her stuff" -- I'd deleted the mere.

    "A bean-bag chair, an antique desk, and photos arranged artfully across the wall" -- that's a fragment, not a sentence.

    "We already had nothing whatsoever in common" -- I think it would make more sense if you said something more like 'I could tell already we had nothing in common.'

    "I shouldn’t feel so relieved she hadn’t introduced herself yet." -- This doesn't sound quite right. It sounds like there should end with something that says, 'but I did.'

  11. "She obviously loved wearing dresses. We already had nothing whatsoever in common." - I loved that! (but agree with another poster who said lose the whatsoever).

    I was thinking the roommate hadn't checked in yet, and then magically all her pictures appeared on the wall. Did she put them up during the night?

    Good luck!

  12. Hooked - I liked this a lot. The main character's voice and what she's talking about lend themselves well to a mystery. I honestly can't come up with many things to change.

  13. I'm intrigued. I read a lot of YA paranormal and this sounds a lot like that. Maybe that's because the furniture appeared over night while the mc slept. Sounds like your character is a sound sleeper, not to have heard her new roommate come in.

    Great voice.

    Good luck!

  14. Hooked. I would keep reading. I might be the only one, but some of the tense confused me. She hasn't met her roommate yet, but it reads in past tense. Maybe it could be tweaked a bit to clarify. Great job.

  15. You've done a good job of establishing the original mystery of Lamont, but it's not quite enough to hook me. I can't really get myself to care about the mystery, or the narrator, from the first few paragraphs. The narrator's voice seems a little flat and characterless, though it's obvious that the girl's got character (the relief at not seeing her roommate, the jeans). I'd like to see more of that coming through.

    I'm also not really sure why the narrator feels she shouldn't be relieved to meet this perfect person. As a short, jean-loving girl, I'd never be eager to be face-to-face with someone like that, and I can't think of a scenario in which somebody like me would feel they needed to be. (Basically, the sentence just feels odd to me and I think you could maybe clarify it a little more.)

  16. Very well written. Nice voice. I'm HOOKED!


  17. Hooked. I loved everything but the last line. Maybe simplify it. I was glad she hadn't introduced herself yet.

    I didn't have a problem with how the stuff got there. Yeah, realistically, how could she have brought everything in and set it all up without waking the MC, but I'm figuring that's part of the mystery.

  18. I liked this a lot. Good job. Good writing.

    I think most people misread this. Lamont just came in and went to bed after the protagonist. Her stuff was already there. I wasn't confused at all, but I guess it's good to see where people are tripping up so you can make it clearer.... Or maybe everyone's just reading too fast? :)