Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #26

TITLE: Forever in Your Heart
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary

After tying my hair into a ponytail, I worked on my fake rip dribble then made a behind the back move, when a gray car pulled up and parked in front of the house next door. A fiery red-haired girl got out. I stopped dribbling, held the ball and craned my neck to get a better view over the dogwood branches.

Okay, so this was the new neighbor Mom had mentioned. The girl looked about my age, seventeen. She wore all black from her eyeliner to the half gloves. Scary and gothic.

I backed away from the branch and sighed. As far as I knew, hardly anyone in this town looked like her. And there was nothing special here, not even a mall to hang out.

I peeked again and two adults with a small boy stood in the yard. I guess they were her parents and brother. A minute later, all three of them, except the man who was probably the father, disappeared inside the house. I resumed dribbling just as a rental van arrived, backed up and parked in the driveway. The unloading scene turned busy with two guys helping the father carry furniture and boxes inside.

Mom told me about their impending arrival. "It's time for you to widen your circle of friends, Manda," Mom had said. I shrugged at her suggestion. I just wasn't interested. For twelve years, it was just me and Mom. So why change now?

A high pitched voice shot through my ears.


  1. I like this so far. It gives you just enough info about the MC and something of interest with the neighbor to keep you reading and find out what happens next. You could tighten up the prose just a little, but other than that I have no complaints.

  2. First, I like the action-ey feel of this. I'd charge right in, though. Say, "I tied my hair in a ponytail and worked on my fake rip dribble. I was making a behind the back move when the gray car pulled in and a fiery..." maybe?
    (The "After tying... seems to slow things down.)
    Do tighten the prose, but I like the pacing~

  3. Has potential but could be tighter on writing for sure; I agree with the edits already mentioned. And I'll add another suggestion: the MC wouldn't mention her own age (since it's obvious to her).

  4. I agree mostly with what has been said. That first sentence is convoluted and awkward.

    "A fiery red-haired girl" - suggests the girl is fiery, not her red hair. Is that what you meant?

    Third paragraph: I don't know why (sorry!), but this turns me off.

    "I guess.." tense change?

    I agree with Carol: it has potential but could use some tightening.

  5. This has great bones. The above comments give good examples for tightening but I'd definitely read on. I'd like to know what relationships develop and what the high pitched voice was about.

  6. This seemed pretty ordinary to me. The writing doesn't stand out, nor the premise. I'm thinking perhaps this isn't the place to start because nothing is really happening. All she's doing here is watching. Perhaps her first encounter with the new girl or her family might be a little more active/engaging.

  7. It's so hard to say, but I agree with Barbara, that this might not be the place to start. It's just too commonplace, and without enough vision into the main character. Also when she backs away in the third paragraph it makes the whole passage rather lackluster. Maybe if she snuck in for a closer look I'd be more interested in her. Your last sentence sounds like something is about to happen - play that up!

  8. I like the opening and introduction of the neighbor who I imagine will be the source of tension in this piece.

    I do have a few suggestions. One, I think "fiery red-haired" could be changed to something more original and I'm not sure a seventeen year old would say "scary and gothic". I think the MC sounds more like fifteen than seventeen. I'm also not sure that a mom would tell a seventeen year old to expand her circle of friends. Unless Manda's totally immature, which is a possibility, but then I'd show that somehow in the opening. It could be just me though.

    I do like how you have her outside dribbling a basketball, spying on her new neighbor. I guess in that sense I disagree with the others about where you start the story in that I think this is a natural place to start.

    Good luck with your novel.

  9. I think this is an okay place to start, but I had to re-read the first sentence to take it all in. I would try paring it down some (and the "when a..." grammar is sticking for me, given the rest of the sentence).

    Para 4 seemed a bit clunky to me and I found myself skimming - but I like para 5. A hint of what's to come in there :)

    I'm not hooked yet - but it has potential, for sure.

  10. I too feel that this is a fine place to start if the story kicks off with the new neighbors moving in and the drama unfolds from them. Also I get a nice sense of you character and what their life is like before the new people arrive. Feels like you told a lot in such few words.

    I would keep reading.

  11. It's always fun to have a wild character who moves in from out of town, especially if she turns the life of the protagonist upside down. But stylistically speaking, the writing feels clunky to me. You repeat twice that Mom had mentioned the red haired girl, which is too much in such a short span.

    This is a good, solid, premise, but it's also one that's very familiar, so the writing has to be nearly perfect to pull it off. Keep working on it and polishing it!

  12. It's an interesting way to start. My only thing is that I think when you start talking about resuming dribbing, I think that needs to be a new paragraph. Good Luck!

  13. I think the part about the moving van can be shortened. Saying their moving all their belongings should be enough. Even with the ponytail in the first sentence, I thought the character was a boy until I got to the name. Good start and I would read to see what happens with these two characters.