Wednesday, February 10, 2010

19 Secret Agent

TITLE: Forget-Me-Nots
GENRE: Young Adult

I am invisible ninety-six point four percent of my life. Right now is not one of those moments, but I really wish it was.

Charles Addison is only three years older than me but tries to act like he’s forty-five when he’s not leering at me like a horny deviant. Which, much to my continued disappointment, is most of the time I’m with him. I’ve scanned my English vocabulary workbook for more expressive words that could best fit him, but patronizing and repugnant are the most despicable ones I can find, and they just don’t do justice to the walking, talking freak show deviant that is Charles Addison. Really.

As my manager at Marcela’s Shop ‘n Save, he takes his job much too seriously, as though being the nights and weekend manager at a dying family-owned grocery store is his life’s ambition. It’s more like no ambition. And, right now, he’s taking perverse satisfaction in the one dollar and forty-nine cent discrepancy he’s just found in my drawer total, hanging it over my head and refusing to let me go home until the money can be located. Now I’m cornered with him in his grimy little manager’s office in the back of the stockroom, unable to get the image out of my head of a bear snared in a trap, methodically gnawing at its paw until it finally tears it off, allowing glorious escape. If I could, I’d start nibbling.


  1. Love the visuals I'm getting while reading this piece. I can really "see" your MC and your voice is just fantastic. I already hate Charles Addison and I've only read a few words! One small thing, though, I'm not quite sure how the first sentence fits in with the rest of it. Very small nitpicky thing, though. Great job!

  2. I loved the first sentence, but then realized it wasn't meant to be taken literal. I was a little disappointed. How cool would it be to have an MC invisible most of the time, literally? But, despite that, the voice here is great. And I've so been there before with a short drawer and a "deviant" boss. I feel for her. I would definitely read more, even if she isn't really invisible ninety-six point four percent of her life.

  3. Nice job on making Charlie so unlikable. Makes us sympathize w/the MC from the very beginnings. I'm ready for some tension and dialog, so I'll assume (hope) that's what's coming up and would keep reading.

    One nit: You use "deviant" twice in the 2nd paragraph: horny deviant and freak show deviant. Because it's such a striking word, I think you should use it in one place of the other.

  4. I really like your first sentence! It's intriguing and unusual...and not another dead body. :-)

    But then...oh. It's not literally. Bummer. (Now I see another commenter said the same thing.)

    I also noticed the use of deviant twice. It jumped out at me...maybe because it's an unusual word? I don't know.

    But I think your voice is pretty good, and your narrative flows well. This seems like too short of an excerpt to say much more, but I'd keep reading to see what happens!

  5. I really liked the first sentence and never thought it was meant to be literal. I liked the voice too.

    I think what didn't work for me is that this is all internal with lots of telling. The narrator keeps saying "right now" (seriously, she says now three times) but then we never really jump into the action, it's just her, telling us about Charles and what he's doing without showing it to us.

    This scene would be much more dynamic if rather than her telling us he has already found a discrepancy and was forcing her to stay until the money is found, you opened with showing us that event as it happens.

  6. I liked this. The voice was strong and consistent, which can be hard to pull off so early. You even made the narrator's boss come alive, even if we might wish he were otherwise. My only suggestion would be to integrate the third paragraph into the dialogue (I'm assuming dialogue comes next, otherwise I'd probably stop reading). Have him verbally taunt her while they actively search for the money, having him catch her bending over or whatever, just having them interact on more than a descriptive level would bring it alive at this point.

    I liked this. Best of luck.

  7. Love the voice here. I feel like I know a lot about the MC after only a few paragraphs. That's not easy to do and you've done it well.

    The use of 'deviant' twice bugged me a little, but not enough to not keep reading.

  8. I loved the first sentence, but then, I felt cheated it wasn't literal.

    As for the rest, it did pull me in, but I can't quite put my finger on why. I would like a little less introspection & telling and a little more action.

  9. You created a great voice for your MC, but I don't get a picture/sense of who she is. Everything is about Charles Addison.

    It's made clear in the 2nd paragraph she doesn't like him, but that's all this opening is about - her telling us how much she doesn't like him.

    Perhaps show us the scene. Let us see just how deviant and creepy he is, through his own words and actions. Then let us see her thoughts and reactions to what he says and does. This will give her more than a voice. And telling only gets so much across. You can tell us a hundred times that the guy's a creep, but it won't be as powerful and effective as one scene with him actually being a creep.

  10. I too really liked the voice and the narrative. Particularly that last line about nibbling.

    Like the others, I too expected literal invisbility and was disappointed to realize it wasn't literal. Perhaps you should say: "I feel invisible ninety-six point four percent of time. People rarely notice me. Right now is not one of those moments, but I really wish it was." Something like that would clear up the confusion, so there's no disappoinment.

    Otherwise, great opening.

  11. Sparkling voice here and fantastic first line. My one issue with this is that, apart from your opening line, I don't get a great sense of your MC. I would've liked a few more hints of her earlier on so that I can better sympathize with her being trapped in the office with deviant Charles. But I'd still keep reading due to the voice!

  12. I really liked the first line too, but I agree it would be better to have us in the action and seeing it rather than her telling us.

  13. While there were parts of this opening I liked, I'm afraid I found the voice just a tad overdone. "much to my continued disappointment" felt a little adult to me, I didn't fully believe that she'd go scanning an English vocabulary book just to find words to describe Charles, and I didn't think the word "Really" was necessary at the end of the second paragraph. The bear metaphor also kind of lost me.

    I like the idea about the invisibility, but I didn't know if this was meant to be taken literally or figuratively, but either way I think you may need to spend a bit more time on that before moving on to the narrative.