Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #14


I'm the girl whose mother is a ghost and whose father is a god.
My dreams are filled with messages from a talking book. They call
me to a secret cave in the dark forest.

I'm forced to go there or relive the dream over and over.
I tiptoe past my foster parents' bedroom. They snore on, never
realizing I'm on my way to do something really important, at least
according to my dream. If I get back in time for school, they'll never
know I went anywhere. I've tried to tell them about my dreams before,
but who's going to take the word of a fourteen-year-old girl who's
failing Spanish and Gym? Not them.

In the eerie darkness, a full moon lights my way. It's a little
spooky out here, but a great black opening looms ahead. Somewhere far
away, a coyote gives a mournful howl as I mount the weed-covered steps
and enter the cave, full of breathless excitement for what lies ahead.
Torches mounted on the walls flicker and shadows shift and grow
into monster shapes. Spider webs tickle my face, and I bat them away
with my hand.

Gravel crunches beneath my boots, and I pull my coat around my
nightshirt and yank my collar up to keep warm in the damp coldness.
Except for a few indentations, the cave floor remains flat as I
feel my way along in the dim-lit cavern and head toward the red and
gold door.


  1. You gave me goose bumps reading this. Your descriptions had me right there in the cave!

  2. At first I thought it was kind of rushed, but as I read on I liked where is was going.

    I'd read more. Hooked!

    Good luck with SA!

  3. I like your voice and I'm intrigued. I'd keep reading. The only thing that I stumbled on was the damp coldness. I would cut it a keep warm or say damp cave. Yanking the collar implies that it is cold.

  4. Really liked your first sentence. I'm a little unsure what the second sentence means, but I'm still intrigued.

    The continuing build up is also good. You ground us in the girl's age, what's going on in her life and why her parents won't believe her.

    Next two paragraphs work well, pulling the reader along with the MC.

    Good luck.

  5. I was hooked with the first paragraph. The only issue I have is that present tense tends to read awkwardly to me. I think it would be stronger in past tense.

  6. Well, the detail is good, but I have this thing about over-explaining the scenery, especially at the beginning. Many authors do this to set the tone, but what ends up happening is the reader grows frustrated because the narrative drive is stalled. Think of it like a journey. You are getting somewhere, and yes you look out the windows now and then to take in the sights, BUT you have to keep your eyes on the road. Right? This said, I might cut back the scenic/tonal descriptions (scale them back a bit) and put that narrative train in motion a little earlier. If I were an agent, I would like the writing and request a partial to see what might be lurking behind the scenery. Then again, I am not an agent.

  7. I liked it, although I might start with - My mother is a ghost - rather than 'I'm the girl who' and cut the "I tried to tell them about my dreams" part. Don't explain things to the reader. It stops the story. If the reader has to know it, find a way to get the info out without interrupting the story. You might change the 'tickling' spider web. You're creating an eerie scene and mood. Tickling doesn't suit it.

    I'm not totally hooked, but I could be with some revision.

  8. Nice first lines. I would read on, though I felt the descriptions at the beginning were a bit much (for the beginning).

  9. I actually found the opposite. I didn't like the opening at all, but liked the last two paragraphs. The first sentence felt sort of awkward. Maybe if you got rid of the "I'm the girl who" and rearranged it.

    If you started with something like, "I had that dream again," or something, then I'd be curious.

    Good luck!

  10. I wasn't hooked by this piece. I think because the first two paragraphs tell instead of show. Find a way to show us how the MC is different rather than telling us she's the offspring of a ghost and a god. The last two paragraphs were a bit better because we started to get into the action.

  11. I think this would be stronger if you cut the second paragraph completely. It's slowing down the momentum and we can find all of this out later if it's important.

    'the cave floor remains flat' -- I think 'remains' should just be 'is' here. Otherwise it sounds like she's somehow causing the floor to change.

  12. Your opening sparked my interest, but I had trouble getting past it because I got lost and confused further in . . . I can't tell how your MC feels or what her personality is like. She's just telling us things. I don't feel like there's enough action for me keep going. Once you flesh out her personality, it will flow better, I think. Best of luck to you!

  13. This is tough, because honestly it's one of those love/hate scenarios with that first sentence. On one hand, I feel it's something that would be better left told later, but on the other, I've yet to read the rest of your manuscript to judge if it's in an appropriate place.

    I'd definitely keep reading to see what happens.

  14. I won't comment on this now that the Agent has commented but I did find that my intrigue wasn't engaged - ghosts as mother married to gods that snore away in a bedroom... and me being scared of ghosts? when there's one snoring away in my parent's bedroom? I just disengaged but I think you do have some very good and constructive (not destructive) feedback.