Wednesday, March 10, 2010

43 Secret Agent

TITLE: Sad Girl

“We have something to tell you.” Steve said it. Like what they were about to say was something so terrible that he didn’t want the filthy words to cross my mother’s tongue. His stinking pink shirt, and his arm clamped around her shoulder, and that look on his face. Urgh that look. Hopeful and frightened.

Mom had it too. Like I was some kind of monster about to feed and they hoped the small lamb they were about to offer up would be enough to satisfy me. She sat there on that stinking stupid chair—the one that Steve insisted on bringing with him when he moved in two years ago—hands resting on her lap, looking at me. I can’t remember the last time she looked at me. In my eyes anyway. And her brown cow eyes were wet. “Honey,” she was shaking.

Come on. What could you possibly have to tell me that would shock me? You were there when Dad died seven years ago. You eloped with Steve when I was on an overnight camping trip. Seriously, I was ready for anything.

“Just tell me.” I tried to say it gently.

“Oh, let’s just come out with it!” Steve suddenly had a huge grin on his face. Mom squeezed his hand with a timid smile. “Kat, we’re going to have a baby!”

I think I might have passed out for a while. When I could refocus my eyes, all I could see was that Thomas Kinkade painting hanging right behind Mom’s head.


  1. I liked it. You built up suspense nicely as we waited to hear what the big news was. You gave the sense that Kat had been through a lot and was accustomed to life-changing surprises. I'd read on!

  2. I'd definitely read on. The narrator comes off as stereotypical snotty teenager, but not without reason. She's been through a lot. Good hook.

  3. This works pretty well, though the first two bits of dialogue threw me a bit.

    I don't like stories starting with dialogue, and it seems you could have paraphrased it (the two of them sat me down, and Steve said they had something to tell me) without losing the effect, and it would be less confusing.

    I didn't think the "Honey" was necessary, either. And you use "stinking" twice.

    That said, this reads pretty well, and I liked "brown cow eyes" and the Thomas Kinkade detail.

    But it's a good hook. With a bit of polish, it could be a great one.

  4. I'm sorry, but I wasn't hooked. All that build up to find out her mother is pregnant? She has been through a lot, I get that. But we don't know why a baby would be faint-worthy. I would need more.

  5. I really liked your hook and you definitely kept me reading to find out what it was that they wanted to tell her!

    Your writing is effortless, yet gives us so much information in those first couple of paragraphs.

    I do have to agree with the above comment that I was expecting something much bigger/more dramatic to take place over a baby, but I would continue reading.

  6. The third paragraph with the second person "you" didn't work. Why the tense change? Put it back in first person and take out one of the "stinking" and you've got a good read.

  7. I'm not really your target audience, so feel free to disregard. I'm not feeling a lot of sympathy for your MC, and not sure I want to read on and find out more about her. I think I need more than her mother remarrying after her father's death to empathize with her.

    Watch the repetitive words - "something" in the first paragraph, and "stinking." And I think the third paragraph would read better if you didn't use "you." "I wondered what could she possibly have to tell me that would shock me? She . . ."

    Good luck!

  8. I think you have some great descriptions. I like how you give us the protag's name almost right away.

    I'm not sure where this book is going, but the beginning didn't do it for me. I don't see why a new baby is a big deal, especially after everything else she's been through. It seems like a big build-up for such a small thing. Meg Cabot deals with this issue in her Princess Diary books, but that isn't the central plot point. And her character's reaction is believable because of the thought process that goes with it. So I'm left wondering why a baby is such a big deal to this girl - enough that she would pass out. It seems like an overreaction.

    Good luck!

  9. The set up in the first paragraph had me expecting something more sinister. A baby announcement didn't seem to fit.

    Such an announcement can be dramatic. Try a different set up.

  10. If this is your submission to my slush pile my answer would be no because it is slow. Action is important. Such as

    "Kat, we're going to have a baby!" and from there you backtrack. Quickly too because I have to have a reason pretty fast to find out why having a baby is so truly awful to me.

    for p1, Chapt. 1 this has no hook.

  11. I read the first paragraph and thought - They're either getting married or having a baby, so my expectation was right.

    I liked the build-up. You created suspense and you drew it out, but in the end I was disappointed. I think it was because she fainted. I could see her being upset by mom's announcement, but actually fainting seemed a bit much (unless perhaps she's pregnant too?)

    I really liked it all until the end. And the Thomas Kincade painting really threw me. Better to tell us what it's a picture of, rather than naming the artist, so we can relate. How many people know who Thomas Kincade is, or what type of paintings he paints? Better yet, how many teens know?

    Not hooked, but I wouldn't put it down just yet.

  12. There was way too much dramatic build up here and when the actual reveal was actually made, it felt like kind of a let down. I also think the build up was a little overdone. I wouldn't read on here.