Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2 Secret Agent

TITLE: Lost in a Heartbeat
GENRE: YA contemporary

Staring at the lake as if nothing else existed, I spotted one of my old teammates practicing her freestyle. Even from where I sat on the beach, her pale form was a beacon against the choppy blue water.

I looked away, wrapping my arms around my drawn up knees, and fidgeted with the dolphin charm on my bracelet.

“Are you cold?” Alejandra asked from the beach towel next to mine. She had already stripped down to her bikini while I sat there in my jeans and navy hoodie. The hood, as usual, was pulled up, hiding my light blond hair. The way I now preferred it.

“Maybe I’m coming down with something.”

“Or maybe you’re just not eating enough.”

I knew where this was headed. It was a path we had already traipsed down one too many times. “Just ’cause your sister’s struggling with anorexia doesn’t mean I am as well.”

“Yeah well, when we were on the swim team, it was like you were eating all the time. But now nada. Now you’re just skin and bones.”

Knowing I wasn’t going to win this argument, even though she was wrong, I quickly scanned the beach, searching for something so I could change the subject.

“She’s nowhere near as good as you are,” Alejandra said.

I looked at her to see what she was talking about. Her gaze was directed at our old teammate in the water.

“Her timing’s all off,” she said.


  1. Some intriguing questions are hinted at here, but I find myself wishing for a stronger sense of the character's unique voice and personality. It feels a little bland.

  2. I would read on to see if she does have anorexia and if not, what she is hiding. Maybe she's pregnant.

  3. My sister had anorexia, and I remember her sitting on the beach one summer in sweats while we were all in bathing suits. So the image strikes a chord with me -- but I agree that I wanted more of who she is/what she's thinking.

  4. I liked the image of her sitting in her sweats but i also want to get a better feeling of the character. And in your next revision it might help to clean up some of your adverbs - in this section there's 6 of them (not counting dialogue of course) and if you took most of them out, the language would be stronger. Especially in your opening sentence.

  5. I would read more to see what is going on with her, hoping it is something unusual. If it was not, I may not be as interested. Agree with what the rest of the crits have already pointed out.

  6. You have a nice set up in that we are presented with a problem, you give us the swimming aspect, and you leave us with a little mystery, but you don't give us any insight into your MC.

    Add some of her thoughts into the mix and it will show her character. For instance, in the opening parg., if you said - I spotted Suzy Smith, one of my old teammates, practicing her freestyle - then followed it up with a thought - she wasn't half as good as I was - that shows us a bit of character and presents your MC as confident or arrogant, depending on other things she thinks and says. Or she might think - Even on my best day I was never as good as her, or - she's coming along really well. - depending on the type of character you want to portray.

    You might also want alejandra to use her name, that way we know who your MC is.

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  8. A couple of things stuck out at me in the writing:

    "hiding my light blond hair"--This reads as though she's hiding the color of her hair. If the hair color isn't important here, just the fact that she's hiding, then cut 'light blond' and work that description in later in a more natural place.

    "doesn’t mean I am as well"-- The 'as well' sounds unnatural; 'too' would be better, or you could just cut it.

  9. I'm interested in your MC, and in the reason for her weight loss and clothing/hair selection, but ... Something keeps me from saying that I'd definitely read on. I think it's a lack of voice, which could be established by adding some of your character's thoughts to the mix.

    Best of luck.

  10. I can feel your character right away and I think she's very relatable.

    My suggestion would be to hint more to where the story is going...unless of course it is a book about living in denial of anorexia...and then I would just have to say great job.

  11. I don't know. I think I need just a wee bit more on her - maybe more thoughts or something.

    Could you skim through the rest of your manuscript and dredge up the most intriguing character trait on your MC and somehow interject it into your first 250 words?

  12. I don't mind the slower intro of the character. My mind went to cancer and I'm curious if I'm right. I'd like it to get deeper soon though.