Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #8

TITLE: The Legend of Itasca
GENRE: Young Adult Magical Realism

Jeni studied the set of keys dangling in front of her face, debating on whether or not she should accept her cousin's offer to go for a drive. She didn't see how she could turn him down and still save face.

For the millionth time she wished her grandpa hadn't died. Then I wouldn't be stuck in this cottage with Tyler for a week. The thought brought an immediate pang of guilt. There were better reasons to wish her grandpa was still alive.

Tyler jiggled the keys. "C'mon, your mom said you've got your driver's permit. I'm sure you need the practice."

"With you?"

"Why not? I'm a pro."

Jeni narrowed her eyes and scanned Tyler's face for signs of deceit. Years ago he'd recognized her inability to back down from a challenge and never missed a chance to take advantage of her weakness. She wondered what the hidden twist would be this time.

"Fine," she sighed.

On her way through the kitchen, Jeni let her mom know where she was going and retrieved a hoodie and her purse from the hooks near the door. Ignoring the ball of nerves forming in her gut, she stepped outside where Tyler waited. His right eyebrow arched up and a smile played at the corners of his mouth as he tossed her the keys.

Despite the slight tremor of her hand, she snatched the keys out of the air. What was he up to? And why should she be nervous? She knew how to drive!


  1. Good descriptions of facial expressions and body language interspersed with information and dialog.

    In this segment, there's no real action that hooks me into wanting to read further. Also, there's a change from 3rd to 1st person POV in paragraph two.

    Not hooked.

  2. I think the writing flows well, and I am wondering what this drive will bring. I suggest that the first time you speak of Tyler, say his name and not just her cousin. You can clarify that later, but not having a name there broke my reading flow as I wondered why she just called him her cousin.

  3. The description and the conflict between Jen and her cousin are good but I have a major problem with her inability to back down from a challenge. If she knows that she has this, it would be an even bigger challenge to back down, so she could do it of she wanted. It's like one of those characters that knows the murderer is in the bathroom but goes there deliberately. I don't want to discourage you but I think you should find a different reason for her to go with her cousin.

  4. This is basically all told, which makes it very passive. Make it active by showing us what she did. For example -

    Jeni studied the set of keys dangling in front of her face, debating on whether or not she should accept her cousin's offer to go for a drive.

    Jeni 'glanced' (or any word that means looked, because if she's 'studying' them, then that's what she's thinking about - the keys, not her cousin) at the car keys (specific) Tyler (introduces him right away) dangled (shows him doing it, rather than you telling us he did it) in front of her face. Should she go with him or not? (Again, she is actually doing the thinking, rather than you telling us she thought it.)

    Making it active will add a bit more life to it, and it draws the reader closer to your characters. We're watching it as it happens, rather than being told about it after the fact.

  5. I'm not hooked. Either need more dialogue or cut it out completely. Having it sliced to bits with all of the tags make it hard to get through. Also, nothing is happening.

  6. The writing is solid and the characters have potential, but there's not enough happening here to grab me. I'm sorry!

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  8. I liked your flow and balance of description, dialogue, and inner feelings. She's a teenager, which qualifies her to be very conflicted, and at this point unable to resist Tyler's challenge.

    On that note, going for a ride could also be fun, perhaps she'll think up a destination, a hamburger joint or the like. Also most moms will ask where are you going? Perhaps this will come with mom running out before they leave.

    The change from third to first mentioned by pj is allowed because it's direct thought. Perhaps, since italics are hard to transfer unless it's plain text, a separate line would help.

  9. Although I think the premise here has potrential, I thought the writing lacked punch. I felt like it was very passive and all told to us, as one commenter quite nicely pointed out with some nice potential corrections.

    I think there's potential to hook the reader here in this little caper, whatever it is, but I'm not convinced with this somewhat dry description. I think it needs some work.