Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #3

GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Part of me wanted to turn and run, but the reporter part kept moving me forward. I forced my legs to walk me through the foggy night, down the gritty street to Lu's Chinese Restaurant. When I stepped inside, I got a shock.

Right away, I could tell from the simple fact that some green-skinned guy in tails was strangling a purple-skinned creature with three eyes, that this wasn't a place to eat Buddha's Delight or Kung Pao chicken. Somebody got their signals crossed about this assignment, and it wasn't me. That, or somebody was out to get this girl.

I probably would have freaked, except that before my dad disappeared, he was a private investigator and he used to tell me stories about places worse than this, and how to hang tough.

Up ahead, a four-piece band swayed to Middle Eastern music that had an other-world twist to it. So far, this was weird and a little scary, something you don't generally see in a NYC restaurant. I straightened my red leather boots that carried my initials in gold studs on the heels, MC for Mira Cunningham, checked the zipper on my black leather miniskirt, and adjusted my matching top.

I so wished I'd worn jeans and a denim jacket with a high collar and a hat with a big brim I could hide under, but this is the real me. Not during the school day, of course. Then I'm a computer geek who wears glasses, baggy tops, and nobody speaks to.


  1. You might want to consider staying more in the moment of when she enters the restaurant, forget all the back story and double identity part for now. I am hooked to why she is there and stuff, I crave more of that.

  2. Not hooked. Some of the sentences still seemed a little rough to me. Like "the reporter part kept moving me forward." (Even "the reporter part kept me moving forward" would flow a little better, or you could go for a rewording altogether.) Also, I'm not a huge fan of the tell-y sentence "When I stepped inside, I got a shock."

    The first sentence in the second paragraph is one example of a too-crowded sentence. One revision idea: "Right away, I could tell this wasn't a place to eat Buddha's Delight or Kung Pao (C)hicken. Maybe it was something about the green-skinned guy in tails strangling a three-eyed creature that gave it away."

    I do like the title, and I think this definitely has potential. Best of luck.

  3. I think there's a bit of overwriting going on here, which is easily fixed. Krista V. gave a fabulous example above. I don't yet know what the book's going to be about, but would have liked to see more action and less of the background info, which should be divided up and come a little later. I would've loved to hear why the place is so freaky and what the MC's going through emotionally - fear, anticipation, excitement etc. I probably would keep on reading to find out what happens, but the action would have to come soon.

  4. I'd read more, but I agree with others that this still needs some revision work. Your last sentence is grammatically rough, and you have a few sentences that are awkward. However, I like the intrigue and the double life set up.

  5. Sorry, but I just wasn't hooked in by this one. First, the writing is rather clumsy--too many details in too short a time--and it doesn't give us a strong enough sense of the protagonist. Also, some of the details don't seem to match: Why would a Chinese restaurant play Middle Eastern music? Wouldn't it be Chinese music?

    This feels rushed to me, and very much like a first draft. I say go back to it, slow it down, and think carefully about the details you're using to build the story.

  6. I agree with the previous posters; I am not hooked. You are trying to tell me way too much in too short a time.

    If I can find out about her father's career and disappearance, her double life and taste in clothing, as well as the unusual goings-on in the restaurant in 250 words, then I don't need to read the rest of the novel.

    Slow it down and show us these details - let the information come out naturally as the story progresses.

    I'd really like to know why a green guy was strangling a purple creature with three eyes - that's what grabbed your MC's attention, and that's what we should be focusing on too.

  7. I feel like you may be trying to do too much with this beginning. There is a ton of information in these first few paragraphs, and it's delivered so rapidly that much of it comes off with a "telling" rather than "showing" feel to me.

    I would choose a couple of items here to focus on, and leave the other pieces for later in the work. Perhaps devote the section completely to Mira's observations in the Chinese restaurant, and then sprinkle in bits about her dad and her computer geek look during later parts of the book. (Just as an idea)

  8. I chuckled while reading this—the Middle Eastern music played in Lu's Chinese Restaurant is unexpected. I wish the MC got right into her mission instead of talking about her regret of not wearing jeans, a denim jacket, etc.

  9. In one way this intrigued me, in another way it didn't. As the previous comments have stated, it doesn't feel quite "finished". Some of it held wry humor (the strangling and this not being the place to eat chicken) but it didn't carry thru for the entire piece.

    Also, much of it was over-explained. There were too many details, and too much qualifying - you said something, but then explained it away by stating something else.

    I'd suggest working on it a bit more: finding a definite "voice" for your character would probably be a good start.

    Good luck!!! You've got some good material here, it just needs bringing out.

  10. This had me interested, but I feel like I need to be shown some of the detail, rather than told, for example, the bit about the dad being a PI and disappearing, I think you could bring that information out in a lot of interesting ways later in the story, rather than just telling us straight away.

    I do like the voice. It really made me think reporter.

  11. I like this beginning...

    "Lu's Chinese Restaurant wasn't a place to eat Buddha's Delight or Kung Pao chicken." Then something that explains the bit about the green-skinned guy and purple dude.

    Hm. Maybe that wasn't too helpful. To be honest, I couldn't quite figure out what was going on, so I don't know how to advise you to make it more clear.

    Just, um, make it more clear.

  12. This has some great detail and intriguing descriptions but I think you could tighten it up by getting rid of some of the telling.

    For example, in the first paragraph where you tell us the narrator got a shock, I think it would be more compelling for the reader if you showed your character's response. How did they react?