Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #11

GENRE: YA Contemporary

I get to the front of the economy line -- I was afraid a teenager would attract too much attention in business class but I just hope I won't feel squished in a miniscule economy seat. I hand over the California driver's license, hoping the tall, skinny gate agent won't really look at it. She doesn't (thankfully!) and just sticks my boarding pass into the machine. The machine spits it back out and she hands it to me.

And doesn't let go of it.

She's staring at me. Uh oh. She looks at the boarding pass and then the driver's license.

She shakes her head and says, "Have a nice flight, Ms. Richards."

I smile and head down the walkway to the United Airlines plane, yanking the glasses off the bridge of my nose and sticking them in my pocket. I whisk the sunglasses out of my other pocket and pop them on my face. I wasn't planning on wearing the sunglasses on the plane but that thing with the gate agent has sort of freaked me out a little.

I settle into the window seat in row 27 and go to toss my hair over my shoulder out of habit. I smack my hand through thin air. My signature uber-long dark chocolate locks -- no, I don't think of my hair that way but that's how the media describes it -- got chopped off three days ago. I'm still having a hard time remembering my hair is now shoulder-length.


  1. I certainly think this is an interesting start that leaves a lot of questions open for me. But it could definitely do with some tightening up, and maybe a few added sentences to really propel me into wanting to read more.

    The first paragraph itself is semi-rambly. We don't really need to know that she considered business class but settled for economy. There are certain parts of this first page that are on the brink of too much telling. The part about the sunglasses is fine, but I don't think an entire paragraph is required behind her reasoning. A simple bit like, "I pulled out my sunglasses and put them on to hide my features better. The way the gate agent looked at me sort of freaked me out."

    I also think there should be some hint as to why she's sneaking away. Perhaps put in the first paragraph as a hook before getting into detail about boarding the plane. Because right now, your first sentence is a little much, and not terribly compelling.

    But this is a good start! Best of luck!

  2. I'm intrigued. I feel the first paragraph could be more hooky...if that's even a word, but I like how you made "And doesn't let go of it" it's own paragraph. It really gave it a punch. I think in the 4th paragraph, the very last line "sort of freaked me out a little", you choose "sort of" or "a little" instead of both because it's the same thing.

    Also the line "I smack my hand through thin air" sounds weird. Maybe change that a bit. But otherwise, I am curious and would read on to see who this famed person is.

  3. I like this. I was a little put off by "smack my hand". I see what you are trying to say, but I think smack is the wrong verb here. Also, would the media use the term "chocolate locks"? I am assuming she has gone missing and it is a sort of Amber Alert that she is referring to. My other thought with that is that maybe she is a child star or something.

    There is nothing here that would stop me from reading at this point though.

  4. I liked the opening. I thought it told me lots about your MC without you actually telling me. She's obviously someone used to first class and who doesn't want to be recognized. She's worried about being squished in a minuscule chair, which reinforces rich and adds snob to the list.

    And I loved - No, I don't think of my hair that way. It reminded me of Stephen King, who wrote "she hissed, even though there were no sibilant S sounds in the words she spoke." or something to that effect. And again, it reveals character.

    I do think it could be tightened a lot, particularly the last two paragraphs, and I would have liked a hint as to why she's sneaking off and what she's running/hiding from. Knowing that might push me into the read more category. As is, it's just not compelling enough for me.

  5. I'm hooked. The only thing I got caught up on was "caught my hand" and that should be easy to change. I liked the inferences in the writing and the way you showed and not told. To me, it seemed obvious she was a celebrity who was hiding or running away and I was interested to read on and find out why.

  6. This is fun. I agree some tightening is needed. And I would like to know more about where or why she's going but we're working with short samples and for all I know you add that before peanuts and drinks. Like the voice. Good work.

  7. I love the premise.

    A little picky: (thankfully!) could be written thankfully without the exclam. See "Self Editing for Fiction Writers" by Browne/King, page 200. The word should stand on it's own strength.

    Maybe 'had' instead of 'has' sort of freaked me out, sounds better.

    I get that she's overweight and either famous or running away or both, but I'd read on to find out.

  8. This has a good premise that makes me want to know more, but it's also got a fair bit of description that slows the pace down.

    (ex- I smile and head down the walkway to the United Airlines plane, yanking the glasses off the bridge of my nose and sticking them in my pocket. I whisk the sunglasses out of my other pocket and pop them on my face.)

    The above could be condensed and give the same info. A shorter version would propel the reader forward faster.

  9. So far intriguing. Not sure if she's a celebrity-in-hiding, running away from home, or on the lam, but I'll keep reading to find out!

  10. I'm hooked but agree that it could use some tightening up. A little less play-by-play and a little more hooky sums it up. But I would keep reading just to find out who she is.

    Dr. Krog

  11. So I like this. I think it has definite potential. I think you do a good job of show don't tell--it's clear she's maybe a celebrity or someone who doesn't want to be recognized.

    The obvious question is why is she running away? What's happened? What will happen? And I think you've done a good job hooking the reader with the first page here.

    I think the writing is a nice teen voice.