Wednesday, February 10, 2010

18 Secret Agent

GENRE: Young Adult

I gave little thought to how my life could drastically change. How quickly death could
come and how, out of nowhere, I could be left all alone. Happiness filled me over the past
seventeen years, until that day—the day my life was spared.

Never in a thousand years did I think I would spend my last year in high school like this.
I mean, how many teens have to deal with being an orphan? And Gio, she will always be part of
me. Twins never leave each other, even if their souls are wandering somewhere else. She may be
in a coma, but she's still my sister.

I'm Ruby Angiolini, class president of Oneida High School. I was stronger than this. I
never let anything get me down—not until the accident. I used to be a normal teen. You know,
the ones who have a family, and like to hang out with their friends on the weekends, gossiping
about who has a crush on who. Instead of fighting with my sister about whose turn it is to wash
dishes, I'm missing her. I miss her fearless personality, how she would approach her current
crush without getting all clammed up. I almost hit the floor when I saw her talking to Logan the
day before the accident. No one had the courage to smile at him, let alone talk to him. Something
about him captivated half the school. Something more than just his good looks and charm.


  1. Your craft writing is good--technically you've written very well (a few tense issues, like 'I AM Ruby, I WAS stronger than this'). This feels like a preface/prologue though. I'm being told everything and shown very little. I admit that I'm biased though, because I don't like dead relatives as a way to build sympathy for the protag.

    I like an opening to start with action. You're good with words and description (like when she's missing her twin-that's when I felt closest to her). Can you rewrite this page so it isn't so reflective? If so, I think you're on to something!

  2. This seems overwritten. It seems like the whole point of this selection is to state how stunned she is that she's alone, but I got that in the first sentence.

    The last few sentences about Logan seem disjointed and just "stuck" there as well.

    What is the point of the scene? What is it that you want/need to portray, and what happens in the scene to propel the action forward?

  3. Agreed. Sorry, but I'm not hooked. I like the concept, and the writing is there, but there's not enough action to get me to care about this girl.

    More action might help, and as others have said, more showing, not telling. A lot of this is redundant; we understand how she's feeling from the first few words, and repeating it throughout this opening tones down what could be a very shocking situation. By the end of it I was ready for some normal emotions/situations.

  4. This is all backstory and all telling. I think Ruby has an interesting story but as it's presented, I don't want to keep reading. I think if you jumped into the events that lead up to Ruby's being an orphan and showed us that, rather than having her reflect back on it, I would be able to connect more.

    This is probably just me, but anytime I see a character say something like "I'm Ruby Angiolini" I wonder who they're talking to. It feels out of place here unless this is something she's actually writing to share her story.

  5. So... I really like this. And yet, it needs to be tightened up. It seems more as if you're 'telling' rather than 'showing'. Does that make sense? I want to FEEL devastated, not be informed that Ruby is devastated.

    I like 'I'm Ruby Angiolini' and 'I was stronger than this.' But I would leave out the bit about class president unless it's vital. You can make that known later and here it sort of breaks up an otherwise strong declaration.

    The only thing that actually bothers me is when Ruby talks about her twin Gio. I think it mostly bothers me because I, myself, am a twin. When she says that twins are always a part of each other, that's true. But it feels almost like an afterthought the way she describes it. My sister is more like the other half of OUR soul, rather than just another soul that's connected to mine.

    I would read on though. I like what you're doing. You just need to tweak it more into the showing, rather than telling us.

  6. I think you've got some good writing here, but agree you could tighten. How about cutting the first paragrah and leading with the first paragraph?

  7. Because grief is handled in so many different ways, it's a tough nut to crack. I get the feeling that she's trying to remind herself of who she is and what she is so she can continue to function after this huge tragedy in her life. But I've also dealt with the death of very close family members, one of whom was 17.

    So I'm bringing a life experience here that is not typical of your average reader.

    Your writing skills are good. I can see where tightening might help. Good luck!

  8. I'd suggest starting somewhere else. At the accident, at a visit to Gio in the hospital, the moment when the doctor gives her Gio's prognosis or tells her her parents are dead.

    As others have said. this is all backstory and nothing is happening. One of the rules that is always given out at conferences and critiques is to start the story where the MC's life changes - the day that is different. If her main problem will be her life as an orphan, start with the moment she realizes her parents are dead. If it's trying to get along without her sister, start when she learns Gio is in a coma. Start with something that is an event or moment in her life.

  9. Having trouble getting into this. I'm just not feeling a connection to your character. I think, as others have mentioned, it's because you're doing a lot of telling here instaed of getting inside Ruby and showing us how she feels and why she feels that way. Can you start in a scene instead of in a stream of introspection?

  10. The story idea sounds good and the writing is okay save a few minor issues like tense, but I think there's too much telling here. Throw us straight into a situation where Ruby's situation and pain become apparent through dialogue and reactions rather than telling.

  11. You've probably got the message by now, but I think there's too much telling and backstory here. I don't necessarily think you need to start with her parents' death and Gio in the coma. I'm guessing the story revolves around her dealing with her last year of school as an orphan. So many you should start with her first day of school or something. It's shaping up to be an interesting story, I just don't think this is the place to begin it.

  12. It's so important to craft a scene to show the reader what they need to know rather than just explaining it all up front. I think this novel may need to start somewhere else in the story. These details can be filled in as you go.