Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #30

TITLE: Taming the Crazies
GENRE: Young Adult

Blake sprints down the empty Freshman hallway, banging his backpack on every locker door he passes while singing 'Bringing Sexy Back' in some off-pitch falsetto voice. I cover my ears and thank God no one is around to witness his one man side-show. "Seriously, Blake. Can you be any more manic?" I say a bit louder than planned.

I'm not sure I can stand another embarrassing episode after the last big mess I cleaned up for him. It wasn't easy getting all the mud off Mom's Mini Cooper following Blake's genius idea that the tiny car would perform as well as a four-wheeler on back roads. I love the guy and all, but after almost seventeen years of life, fourteen of which were spent as his personal disaster janitor, I'm kind of burnt out.

He stops and whips his head back toward me. "Not funny."

I catch up to him and look around to make sure no random freshmen have appeared out of thin air. "Not intended to be funny," I say through clenched teeth. "If you don't want the whole freaking school knowing you're bipolar, then maybe you should put a little more effort into hiding it. It's a miracle you've kept it quiet for the last four years."

He pinches my cheek and smiles while batting his unnaturally long eyelashes. "This episode of 'Hide Blake's Illness' has been made possible by his lovely little sister, Annabelle Jones."

I shake my head and pull him toward the exit. "Idiot."


  1. Interesting! The characters come through very well. A little of the dialogue feels forced - maybe cut the "four years" sentence - and some bits would be smoother if shorter, but for the most part this is lively and good. I'd read on!


  2. I like this! I could picture the scene, and it seemed like something that could really happen. I would keep reading.

  3. I agree with the "four years" part, but otherwise I really, really liked this. The voice is great!

  4. Love this, definitly hooked!

    I'd change the work "following" to "after", but that's all.

    I have a bi-polar friend, and, yeah, it can get just like this. Love the "personal disaster janitor" line. Love Blake's sarcasm.

  5. I think this is really good. There is tension and we are getting to know the relationship between the mc's right away.

    I would like to see (this is way nit picky) that first line of dialog separated from its paragraph. I think it would emphasize it more.

  6. I like this! You craft the scene really well and I can picture these two characters very vividly. If the brother is actually bipolar, it seems a little forced that they would talk about his illness in the last two paragraphs ("If you don't want the whole freaking school etc."). But that's the only thing that didn't feel authentic to me.

  7. How many teens would be seen at school with their brother, bipolar or not?

    Just doesn't seem authentic.

  8. You have a very dramatic piece. I take it, the inciting incident is his freshamn year.

    I'd definitely give every piece of dialogue a separate line. It will look better, accentuate the relationship, and show just how different he is. i.e."Not funny." This little quip tells me he loves her. Let the reader pause and fall for your characters.

    She might want to lower her voice or observe no one around, but then we only have 250 words for this contest. I'm with you.

    I'd make a new paragraph starting with "I cover my ears .. . and as I said above, break it again for the dialogue.

    Good job, all in all. Very hooked.

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  10. Caretaker sister and bipolar brother? I love it already. I'm curious what big mess is looming for her to fix next. Make sure to work that inciting incident in soon. (Since we only have 250 words, it's possible you do this in the next paragraph or two. But if not, I would work it in here.)

  11. No. Just no. I'm already annoyed.

  12. I definitely like the personal disaster janitor. My only nit-pick is the first line- it seemed to be third person for a sec and then switched. Not a big deal, but it's nice to know whose head you're in right away.

    Fabulous voice- I'd read on!

  13. Voice is fantastic and I am intrigued by the premise already. I do have two concerns, though, both regarding the "almost seventeen years of life, fourteen of which were spent as his personal disaster janitor" line.

    If she's his "little sister", that would mean that she can't be any older than a junior, given that he's older. Seeing as how they're in the Freshman Hall, that immediately suggests that one of them (it would have to be Annabelle, since she's younger) is a freshman. Otherwise why not make it a different hallway? My concern here is that, at least when I was in high school, all of the seventeen year olds were seniors. She seems too old to be the younger sister at a high school and I'm looking for some explanation very soon.

    My second concern is with the "fourteen of which". So she's been covering up for her brother since she was three? Really?

    Still, the voice is good, the characters are interesting, and I'd read a little more to see if these age inconsistencies are explained soon.

  14. I thought this worked well, so I had to resort to nitpicking.

    Do you want to mention the name of the song? It will date your book.

    I said it louder than I had planned. This says she planned her tone of voice. maybe a different word.

    I didn't think the 17 -14 thing worked. She's's been taking care of him since she was 2-3? Perhaps be less specific and say she'd been taking care of him most of her life, although I'm guessing you used the 17-14 thing to get ages in?

    Overall, it's nicely done. You've introduced your MC and her problem and given me a reason to read on.

  15. Hmm. So I like the voice here. I think there's definite potential.

    I'm a little confused about the ages as several people have mentioned. I thought Blake was older but now I am thinking annabelle might be. regardless, it's confusing. I like the personal disaster janitor phrase and I'm not sure that I'm bothered by the idea that she's saying she's spent her whole life as that. Especially if you don't put the ages right there in the same sentence.

    I guess more of an issue for me is that it doesn't seem like Blake is doing anythign that unusual for a 14 year old (assuming that's how old he is). Is this really manic behavior? Maybe. But I'm not sure. And if he were in a manic phase, would he care about people finding out?

    And even more, I worry a little bit about what kind of message this is sending? It seems like more and more kids are being diagnosed with bipolar and other conditions every day. Whether or not I agree with that is another whole issue, but regardless, do we want them to feel like they should have to hide it?

    I just don't know that some of these issues wouldn't hold me back on a book of this topic. Then again, you could find someone passionate about it and who falls in love.

    And then again, this is just 1 page. So maybe I'm getting it totally wrong. But like I said to start, I think the voice has postential, and to be honest, the story does too even though I think it may have issues as well.

  16. I liked this but I'm confused about the ages too. I thought Annabelle was 17 and Blake was 14, but then he calls her his little sister. (It doesn't help that I'm not familiar with the American school system and don't know how old a freshman should be - I'm guessing 13 or 14?)

    I'd read on because I like the writing and the voice, but I'd like to see the central conflict introduced soon. She's been mopping up after her brother for years, so something else must be about to happen for your story to start here.

    Oh wait, it just occurred to me that maybe they're twins? That would make sense about she's younger than him but still 17.