Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#27 January Secret Agent

TITLE: Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Dear Diary,

I've done some things I'm not particularly proud of, but you can be sure a lady doesn't pound a person with a golf club for no particular reason either. Don't act so shocked, diary. You know the way I can get with my pins and voodoo dolls. People should learn not to provoke me, or they might just end up with pins inside them or golf clubs attacking them, whether they be doll or flesh. They are lucky I controlled myself, or I might have really damaged what they consider their pretty faces. If I achieved anything today, it was scaring the arrogance out of them. I suppose you can call it a day well spent.

Today marked my second week in Canada and Mom took Fanny and me to the local golf course. Mind you, diary, I haven't swung a club in three years so "rusty" would be an understatement. I had to remember all those specific details like bending my knees, gripping the club, and straightening my left arm, which isn't an easy combination to execute. I was about to swing my pitching wedge when, from the edges of my vision, I beheld the most cutest (bad grammar intended) boys I might have ever encountered in my whole seventeen years wandering this planet. I pulled down my visor so they wouldn't catch me staring, straightened my posture, and slightly leaned on my golf club, looking off to the distance with a "you don't intimidate me" mystique.


  1. She's sassy. Funny.

    She comes off a little older than seventeen but in 250 words I'm not really sure. This could be because I'm picking up her perceived status.

    I liked this. If you meant for her to sound rich and sophisticated at a young age, then well done. If that's not at all intended, then maybe look and see if she's supposed to sound that way.

    Great job!

  2. I'm a little confused. You have her writing her diary in a very stuffy, sophisticated voice, but then you have her talking about voodoo dolls. Something just isn't quite meshing for me. She's an intriguing character, at least.

    Some of the wording seems a little off, like when she slightly leaned on her golfclub instead of leaned slightly, which sounds more natural.

  3. I'm very intrigued by the first para (the first sentence in particular is great and made me laugh), but then the tension just disappears for me in the 2nd. The voice is also a bit odd - it sounds kind of old-fashioned but also immature. But I'd read on a little to see if there was a reason for that.

  4. I guess it's theoretically possible that I could like a character whose first confessed action is beating people with a golf club, but right now I'm just a bit perturbed by your MC. That's not quirky, that's psychotic. Especially because I don't get the sense that the boys did anything particularly bad (other than being arrogant).

    I do like your writing style, and I'd probably read on for a few paragraphs to find out if her actions are actually justified, but you'd have to work really hard to convince me to sympathize with her.

    Best of luck!

  5. She sounds like she's from another time, but the genre says contemporary, so that leaves out paranormal/time travel. I'm wondering why she talks as she does.

    The first parg was intriguing with her pins and voodoo dolls, but again, it's not paranormal, so I wonder about them, too.

    I guess I just can't figure out what the story is about or where you may take it.

  6. A bit too creepy and odd a start for me.

  7. seems intriguing. title is interesting. but gives a feel that it's for adult readers. the "conversation" between the gal and the diary makes the book more creepy... I think either don't do it that much or do it a bit more to create the sense of "insanity" in the gal.

  8. This did not feel contemporary to me. It had a historical time frame feel by the way she spoke and the use of the word lady and even the title. The mc does give off a crazy vibe which is good if that's what is intended.

  9. The title, combined with the 'voice' of the MC made this seem like a turn-of-the-century novel (1890's-1900's), more than YA Contemporary.

    "...but you can be sure a lady doesn't pound a person with a golf club for no particular reason..." definitely sounds 'historical' fiction. "Fanny" is also a name associated with the turn of the century.

    That said, if this were a historical novel, the pluck and spirit of this character would keep me reading to see what 'horrors' she would impose upon her less fortunate associates...

  10. I'm going to disagree with those above and admit that I don't really like the opening paragraph. Partly, it's because that first sentence doesn't read quite right to me. Partly, it's because there's no weight to the statements because there's been no setting of the scene.

    I get into the story with the second paragraph, though I admit that's not as much of a hook as the first line. Really, though, why wouldn't she start her diary with the day and the record of the events? The first paragraph sounds as though she's talking to us, the reader, while the second sounds as though she's talking to the diary, i.e. herself.

    I agree with LadyPrufrock that the MC sounds psychotic and, for me, at least, unlikeable.

    Other than the first sentence, I think the writing is strong and I'm always tempted by formal structures like the epistolary novel. As it is, though, I wouldn't keep reading, as I don't like the MC and the plot seems like it's going to be about her behaving badly.

  11. This is just my personal taste, but starting with letters/ diary entries/ etc… always comes off looking like a cop-out to me—a way for you to drop a whole bunch of characterization/backstory on us at once. It is well-written, and I do like the voice (although I agree it doesn’t sound contemporary), but whether or not this is an effective opening, for me at least, hinges on whether or not the whole book is written in this format. If it is an epistolary-esque novel, then this is well done. But if, in the very next paragraph, she gets interrupted while writing in her diary and we’re suddenly propelled into action, I’m going to be disappointed. And wondering why we didn’t start with said action.

    So, I guess what I’m trying to say in this (terribly unhelpful) critique is that I’m definitely interested in where things go from here. Every time I go back and read it, I like the voice more and more, even though your main character sounds a little crazy. :) Good job!

  12. You've set up an intriguing premise with an old-fashioned style but a clearly contemporary premise, but this didn't work for me. The writing was very dense and required a lot of concentration to follow. While I'm intrigued by the narrator's old-fashioned voice, it also annoyed me. Her whole attitude put me off. I'd like at least one reason to feel sympathetic towards her on the first page.

  13. Although the premise is very interesting to me, I didn't like it starting off as a diary entry. I'd like to get to know the MC another way. But I'd definitely continue reading.

  14. I love love love the first paragraph, but--and this is just personal preference--I really don't like golf, and if I thought after reading the first page that a book would have a lot of golf in it, I wouldn't read more. Again, though, that's just about me and my dislike of golf. Nothing more.

    In terms of the writing, I like it. I like the voice, even if it does sound a touch odd for a contemporary MC. I like the sophistication and I really like the creepiness and voodoo dolls.

    I might keep reading. The golf holds me back. But that's me, not you.

  15. I've just come back from an SCBWI conference where the agents and editors were very emphatic about staying in scene and cutting heavy exposition.

    I agree with the other commenters that I'm a little confused about the time period, and I'm not a fan of the diary entry approach. I'd like to see this scene as it happens rather than have it told to me.

    That being said, I like your MC, and voodoo is definitely intriguing. Good luck!

  16. Hey, Secret Agent here! Yikes! I thought they were supposed to be mellow in Canada, eh? I’m a bad judge of this one because I really think that the “Dear Diary” conceit is a) not very marketable these days and b) an excuse to ramble on instead of actually crafting narrative. Not to say this isn’t crafted, but I’m not seeing an entry point into a story. Start with the scene of the encounter, I’d say.