Wednesday, February 10, 2010

32 Secret Agent

GENRE: Young Adult Supernatural Thriller

My Grandma Pearl had this crazy ol’ saying.

“Jace,” she used to tell me. “Trouble sought is trouble found.”

Yeah, okay. Whatever. I would just scratch my head or maybe tug at my right ear. Sometimes I stuck my finger up my nose and picked a hard, crusty booger. What? I was only five, maybe six. I didn’t have a clue what my grandma was babbling about.

Even after I got older and did understand, I didn’t believe her. I just thought it was something she made up to keep me from having any fun. I mean, the way I figured, how could a guy have any real fun without getting into a little trouble, right?


But then I screwed up.

See, a little trouble was one thing, but I went and got myself into a whole heap of trouble—so much trouble I almost couldn’t get out. Right then and there I knew Grandma’s saying was more than a bunch of silly little words. It was what Grandma Pearl liked to call the absolute one hundred percent God-given truth. Most time she just called it the Gospel.

As I stared at the two ugly monsters crouched in front of me, I felt a wave of tiny shakes ripple through my legs. I ran my hands up and down my thighs real fast, but it didn’t do any good. Those beasts didn’t need to see my fear. They smelled it.


  1. The voice pops of this one!

    Hooked--based on the voice alone.

  2. Yeah, I'm hooked. I love the voice and I want to know how he ended up staring down two monsters.

    Good job!

  3. This is great. It also has a great narrative voice.

  4. Hooked!

    Great voice. And I really like the way you eased me into the story and then hit me with that surprising last paragraph. It makes me feel like I'm in capable story-telling hands.

    I loved the description of the legs shaking. But "ugly" is a bit of a telling word, and with monsters it could mean just about anything. That's the only thing I'd change.

    Good job!

  5. I'm wavering a bit, but I'm going to go with...hooked. It's the boogers. I can't help it, they gross me out. Still, I feel like I'm in for a fun ride. Great voice.

  6. Yup, great voice! And I can't help but sense that the mc is going to be fun to spend time with.

    I also like how the action starts right away. Great job!

  7. Definitely want to keep reading! Great voice! This is a characer I want to read more about! Well done!

  8. The booger line turned me off, but the voice and introduction of monsters would keep me reading.

  9. THe boogers hooked me too. One change I'd suggest: "So much trouble I almost couldn't get out" would be stronger if it were something like "so much trouble I wasn't sure I'd ever get out". If we're going along for the ride with what sounds like a fun MC, we don't want to know up front he's going to "get out."

  10. LOVE your voice. I would rather the backstory was shorter and you got to the monsters quicker.

    You have to describe the monsters a little more. There are so many out there nowadays, I don't know whether to picture furry wolves or horned demons.

  11. I enjoyed the jump from "back then" when the narrator was a small kid picking his nose and the "Now" with the monsters. Very effective. I'd read more.

  12. Hooked! Definitely. This is the best so from, from all I've read! (30+)

    My only issue is that the last paragraph made me think that I wouldn't make it to page three. Since I can't read page two, I don't know, obviously. Sooo...

    If the story goes on to show the consequences of the screwup, simultaneously showing us what the screw up was (without backstory) and while keeping the same chatty feel... then perfect! I'd keep reading voraciously.

    But if the story moves completely into him doing something with these beasts and the voice and style change dramatically, then that would leave me thinking you should cut the whole beginning part.

    I guess I'm saying this: make sure this isn't just a long introduction. :-) If you can keep the tone consistent, you've got a winner!

  13. Fun voice. Lots of energy behind it. Like others, I could do without the nose picking. It's not just gross, it's distracting and unnecessary.

    My only hesitation is with the tension, which isn't *really* tension. It's told in the past tense, so we know he's going to get out of the trouble he's in w/the two monsters. He can get hurt, of course, and it could be an injury that forever alters his life. But for now, this all feels like setup. Which is fine, I think, as long as you don't draw out the artificial tension too long. I'd still keep reading b/c, as I said, your voice is great.

  14. This one is absolutely awesome! The voice is crisp and the final paragraph totally hooked me!

  15. I absolutely loved this. I love the voice and the crusty booger cracked me up. It's what all kids do. I know this is Y/A, but I liked it.

    I loved the part about the beasts smelling his fear. I'm hooked!

  16. I liked the voice in this one a lot! Reminded me a bit of Beautiful Creatures with the hint of southern twang.

    I would definitely keep reading, although like someone else said, I was a bit surprised how the last paragraph dropped into a scene with monsters in the present. I wonder if we're going to see what lead to the heap of trouble or just skip to the consequences. Either way I'm really interested to see what's next!

  17. Great voice. However, the backstory could be shorten, I think, so we get to the action faster. I would read more.

  18. I love this! I am used to reading romance, and mystery, so I know up front what the ending is -- so I want to be entertained along the way, and this seems to guarantee a fun ride.

    The booger thing grossed me out too, BUT I liked the narrator's response -- they know it's gross and that it grosses out the reader -- so that made it fun.

    Good luck with this. I like it a lot.

  19. Great opening! Loved the voice and the natural flow of the narrative. My only suggestion would be to cut - so much trouble I almost couldn’t get out -
    which implies he did, so we already know everything turned out okay. Without it, we know he made it out alive, but we don't know where he ended up.


  20. I feel like the odd one out as I just wasn't as hooked as everyone else. The voice was great but it sounded like it was trying too hard in a few spots ("booger" would've sufficed; didn't really need the "hard, crusty" to get the point across. Wasn't sure you needed both "yeah, okay" and "whatever").

    Thoughts are a little too rambly on the onset to really hook me. I don't get a lot of info about the story except the main character gets into trouble and doesn't listen to his Grandma. I don't have a great sense of what type of story this is going to be, as I'm not sure from this snippet whether the "monsters" are literal monsters or if he's just describing a real predator.

    Sorry, just not enticed enough to read on!

  21. Sorry, I nearly stopped reading after the booger line. I continued reading but didn't feel interested enough to want to see more.

    At the end, too much 'mystery' not enough 'hook'.

  22. Like most, I loved your voice - it was fun and engaging. I agree with making it something along the lines of "... so much trouble I might not get out" so it's not apparent that everything ends all peachy.

    My only real nitpick is wondering how he knows they can smell his fear. I'd rather see that by having them sniff the air, lick big fat monster lips and chuckle scary monster chuckles. I suppose he might know that if he has his Southeastern States' Monster Guide on him though.

  23. When you’re meeting someone for the first time, a polite handshake and exchange of names will do. You don't want to immediately be put in bear hug and have someone try and lock lips--to swap spit. Starting out reading a book is no different. Unfortunately, under the rules of this contest in order to fit into the specified 250 words, that's what many of these beginnings are...THEY'RE JARRING!!!!!

    However yours is a good start...

    I'd ease into the story even a little more than you're already doing...milk it...
    Try this on for size...

    “Trouble sought is trouble found.”
    That's what my Grandma Pearl used to say.
    But back then when she used to say it--I usually wasn't paying much attention...
    So she'd grab me up by the shoulders and sit me down in chair...and look at me hard.
    “Jace-” she used to tell me. “Trouble sought is trouble found.”
    Yeah, okay. Whatever. I would just scratch my head or maybe tug at my right ear. Yada...yada...yada...

    Do you see what's happening...a gradual lead in...
    This is what separates yours from the pack!

    Then your beginning gradually builds and builds to your final paragraph:
    "As I stared at the two ugly monsters crouched in front of me, I felt a wave of tiny shakes ripple through my legs. Yada...yada...yada..."

    That's class!...That's style!

    P.S. Some of the commenters tended to think there was too much back-story...too much lead in.
    Baloney! It all goes back to the 250-word requirement of shoehorning everything including the kitchen sink. My contention is that these contests with word count restrictions are engendering bad story telling. my suggestion takes the word count from 241 to what! Cutting out the entire booger line gets you to 265. Hey this is ridiculous! When novels become 140-word tweets, then talk to me about word count!

  24. The voice is very strong but maybe too strong for me. I don't know if I could read an entire novel with it. Also the transition from his internal monologue to the scene with two monsters felt too abrupt. Perhaps jump sooner to the monsters and include only a bit of set up so that we are out of his musings and into the action. I didn't like the crusty booger part.

  25. I'm afraid the voice felt a bit overdone and it didn't really work for me. I also didn't really understand the paragraph starting "Yeah, okay." and how the saying led to the character picking his nose.