Wednesday, July 15, 2009

9 Secret Agent

TITLE: Fat. Geek. Rock Goddess.
GENRE: Contemporary YA

I once got a Chinese fortune cookie that said, “The way you start a journey sets the tone for the entire trip.” It was one of those nice little sayings that are supposed to make you feel good about starting something new. Now, I don’t usually believe in fortune cookies, or horoscopes, and stuff like that, but if my first ten minutes at Roosevelt High were a sign of how freshman year was going to go, then I was in for the worst year of my life.

The bell signaling the start of the first day of ninth grade hadn’t even sounded yet and here I was, huddled in the corner of a stall in the girls’ bathroom, with my extra-large body wedged between a still un-graffitied wall and the metal flusher thingy that jutted out from the toilet. On the other side of the stall door, Tori McIntyre and her evil sidekicks, Anna and Katie, were admiring themselves in front of the long row of mirrors.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The only reason I was in the bathroom to begin with was because I had nowhere else to go after Mom dropped me off out front, kissed my head and said, Knock em’ dead Jenna. Mom was in her typical oh-my-god-I-was-supposed-to-be-at-the-office-an-hour-ago mode and had dropped me off a freakin’ twenty-five minutes before the orientation assembly. Faced with almost a full half hour of free time in a school where I had no friends, but plenty of enemies; I did what any self-respecting fat girl would do. I hid in the bathroom.


  1. I'm not really hooked. There seems to be tons of stories that start with the beginning of high school...what sets this one apart?

    Also, each of these three paragraphs could be the beginning of the book. One starts with a theory/feeling/general-statement-about-life. Another starts us with the action. And the third starts us with her emotions. I don't think all three one after another work.

    My suggestion would be to think about what your hook really is. What sets this story apart from the thousands of other awful-year-at-school stories, and what is the first scene in your story that shows that difference? ie: In which scene of your story does the story leave the typical awful-year-at-school plot line and move into the this-story-is-different plotline? That is where I'd start this story. Everything before that moment will then be backstory, which you'll filter in every so subtly (avoiding the infamous backstory-dump, of course).

    Nit-picky grammar things, if you kept these paragraphs:

    The first paragraph needs to be broken into two, with the second starting at "Now, I don't usually believe..."

    The first sentence of your next paragraph is partially past tense, partially present. It seems you're writing in past (which most prefer), so "here I was" needs to be changed to "there I was."

    Hope this helps!

  2. I liked this and would probably keep going. The voice was good for me, and especially para 3 had me chuckling a little.

    I'm wondering if maybe starting with para 3 would work. That is where the voice really jumped out at me. The other paragraphs were good, but could maybe be woven into the rest of the story?

  3. I agree with Windy on maybe starting with paragraph 3. Starting off with "It wasn't supposed to be this way" is jumping right in, isn't it?

    Liked this a lot and would continue to read.

  4. Love the title, but the intro is too much talk, too little action.

  5. You had me at 'extra large body'. I'm intrigued. There needs to be more fiction like this, high school from the perspective of a girl self-conscious about her weight. It's such a common teenaged issue.

  6. I'm hooked. I would ditch the first paragraph, maybe the second (though I, too, like the "extra-large body" and "flusher thingy" bit). Like the voice, would definitely read more.

  7. I like the tone of this story, and I'd continue reading because it is a personal favourite genre of mine. However, some lines were confusingly worded and I did struggle with the imagery of your MC at first. But easy things to fix!

  8. I like the concept of high school from a plus-size girl, but this doesn't grab me. And it feels very, very familiar, but I'm not sure if that's because I've seen a version of it in an earlier contest or if (I fear) it is just a very common opening bit.

    Probably starting somewhere other than the first day of school would help, since it is so common. And huddled in the girls' room also seems sort of cliche.

    I don't yet have a sense of Jenna as anything special, and so whether I turned the page would depend on my mood...

    good luck.

  9. I like the concept a LOT... but I am not propelled into the story the way I wish I was... I suspect on like page four of this manuscript things get really juicy and good!

    Honestly... I am so intrigued by the concept that I want to read it... so if you're the author PLEASE email me so I can!


  10. I'd probably read on to see if it can maintain the humor.

  11. I like the idea- I just hope it's not one of those fat kid ends up getting the quarterback and is prom queen even though she's 300 lbs.

    Good luck -
    It's a great start!

  12. The first paragraph doesn't do it for me, but I'm intrigued enough by the rest of it to keep reading.

    Good luck!

  13. First things first. I liked the voice of this character a lot. The way she describes her mom paints a very vivid picture in my head. And I like that she's overweight. It's a problem a lot of teens have to deal with. But I'm not completely hooked.

    Your story really starts in the second paragraph; all the stuff before it isn't as strong. The picture of her alone in the bathroom, hiding from everyone else says a lot more about how this year will suck for her than your telling us in the first paragraph.

    Also, is this book only about weight issues? It's been done before. What I'd like to see is an extra-large heroine who comes to terms with her weight because she's able to solve a bigger problem despite her size. So, what if her being in the bathroom is what leads her to find out some big, catastrophic secret? Now that's a hook. Insecure girl hides in the bathroom and overhears the popular girls' greatest scandal. Something like that would put the weight issue as a secondary plot, which could be more entertaining (choose something exciting for the primary plot) and more original.

    Of course, if the weight already is the secondary plot, introduce us to the primary plot in the first page too, instead of focusing on her self-image issues. But since your title focuses on the fat and the geek (and I have no clue where rock goddess comes in), I'm assuming it's mostly to do with weight issues.

  14. I think there would be teenagers - of every weight - who could relate to this story in some way.

    I would at least read a few more pages to see where it goes.

    Good Luck!

  15. I think this could easily end up being just like a million other things already on the market or in my slush pile, but for now on the strength of the voice and the hope that the plot has a unique aspect as hinted at in the title, I am hooked. (I love the title.)

    Note: It doesn't seem like the worst 10 minutes ever just yet, but I suspect/hope that happens in the next few paragraphs.

  16. I've read eight of these so far, and I think three or four of them have been about the first day of school, so that gives you an idea of how common this theme is.

    You do have a slightly different angle (the fat kid) and you do have some humor in there, which is always good. But the opening is too slow and mundane. I wouldn't read on.

    Since you do have her in the bathroom with her two evil nemises, why not start the story there with a really horrible incident between the three of them.

    The incident would let us know she's fat, that the girls are evil, and that the year was going to be horrid, all without you mentioning any of it. And it would start with action to pull the reader in, rather than a lot of talk.

  17. I thought the start was great. I would though start to ditch some of the 'that' ... just makes things a little smoother.