Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #2

TITLE: Still
GENRE: YA contemporary

My stomach clenches as Dad cranks up the volume on the TV. The news reporter's talking about the seventeen year old who went missing last month. Still no leads.

A memory assaults me. Being dragged along the damp forest ground. Fallen branches digging their spikes into my bare legs. The darkness suffocating me.

All I want to do is escape to my room and pretend I have no clue what might have happened to her. Instead, I push the remainder of my tofu casserole around a plate I'd rather smash against the wall.

"I can't believe they haven't found her yet," Dad says from across the table. "There's another reason why we don't live in a big city."

With a sigh, Mom shakes her head. "I can only imagine what her parents must be going through. At least you know better than to go off with a stranger," she says to me. "Right?"

"Right." The lie slips out before I can stop it. But what can I do? Admit what really happened to me last August? It's so obvious Mom blames the missing girl for not being smart enough to know better. After all the lectures Mom's given me, I couldn't be that girl--not in front of her. It would break her heart and destroy her trust in me.

Mom cuts her broccoli into pieces. "Do you remember my friend Amy Platter?"

A hopeful smile breaks on her face. Something about it makes me squirm.


  1. I really like this. You throw the reader right into the plot. You don't overdescribe or kill us with information. Seems like a mystery about an aducted girl with the apparent MC knowing how it happened. That alone makes me want to read on. It's a very surreal scene, and I always think first person reads the best. You show that here with engaging writing. I'd bite if I were an agent:)

  2. I like this! The part about her knowing what happened to the missing girl made my heart leap. Very well done!

  3. The mystery in here is definitely intriguing, and I'd read on to see where it goes. There's one thing in here that's tripping me up a bit though (and maybe it's just that I'm thinking too much about it):

    Your MC hints through memory that she went through something last August, something she thinks relates to this new missing girl. However, from the way her mother acts, it's clear that your MC was never gone for a month or announced missing on the news; in fact, it seems as though the mother never noticed her daughter was missing last August. Her mother wouldn't call her smart if she knew; this scene would be much different if your MC was gone as long as the girl on the news. So, my question is, how does the MC feel like she knows what happened to this missing girl, when the girl went missing for a month but your MC was never missing for more than one day? I'd hope this was resolved very soon, or else I'd worry that the connection between MC and missing girl really isn't there. But, of course, I'd read on a few pages to see if I could understand. :)

  4. I like how you set up the intrigue right away. We know there is a missing girl, and possibly that the protag knows something about it. I also like how we learn about the protag right away. She's obviously not who her parents thinks she is (what else is new? All teens are not who their parents think they are) but we also know that she's keeping a big secret about something terrible that has happened to her. And I can't wait to find out what that secret is!

  5. I wasn't confused by the events of last August and understood what happened (or at least I think I do). The MC was kidnapped/raped then and while she may not have been gone a month like the girl on the news, she can clearly sympathize with the girl's plight.

    I loved the voice in your work and thought you did a great job integrating the backstory without telling the reader what happened. The imagery and sentence structure in the second paragraph are fantastic. I think you've done a great job and would definitely keep reading.

  6. Excellent. The scene is strong. The conflict obvious. The voice strong and present. Plus, the reader has tons of unanswered questions.

  7. I'm intrigued and I'd definitely read on.

  8. I like this a lot. Your writing flows very nicely and I'm instantly pulled into the story. I want to know what happened to the character and why her parents don't know about it. I'd read on for sure.

  9. Difficult... I really like bits of this, but as a whole I'm not convinced.

    And to be honest with you, I don't know what trips me up. The writing is strong, the intrigue is there, but what I'm missing is something that sets this story apart. And I know it's not easy to do that in a mere 250 words, but this feels too generic.

    I love the tofu casserole though.

    I think the memory would be a stronger start. Completely subjective of course - but that paragraph is by far my favorite. Those four sentences alone make me want to read on.

  10. I think you have a geat premise here. It's certainly intriguing. Perhaps look at the writing a bit.

    Things like, a memory assaults me,and darkness suffocates me, don't help the piece because that isn't really what's happening, and if it were, it would be silly. Think about it - a memory assaulting her, being suffocated by darkness? Just say I remembered or the memory retuned, and if it frightened her or made her ill, say that. Tell us how the darkness really made her feel, or if she felt like she was suffocating, say that, not that the darkness did it. They're weak cliches and a bit cheesy. But they're easy enough to change.

    I'm thinking that perhaps she was taken along with the other girl, but managed to escape, so she never went missing? Right or wrong, you did make it intriguing, and I'd definitely read more.

  11. Changing to read 'seventeen-year-old girl' in the second sentence would add clarity to an already exciting piece, at least for me. and by using dashes you'd actually save words!

    The way the second paragraph is written (in later paragraphs clarified) our heroine could either literally be recalling her own real problem or through empathy visualize what happened to the other girl. So to fix that try getting rid of A memory assaults me and just say Something happened to me too. You'd add one word but I saved you one

    I'd read on.

  12. Definitely intrigued by your story - but a bit confused between the girl that went missing the month before, and what happened to your MC last August.

    Reading through all of the other comments, it seems we've all come to different conclusions (which happens when you can only share the first 250 words). My take was that your MC was part of whatever happened to this girl that is now missing - she knows what went down and that's freaking her out that it's all over the news (and recent conversation for her parents). However, if that really is the case - and everything happened just last month, it's a bit confusing with the MC thinking back to last August (makes it sound like it's months ago or even a year - vs. just a few weeks).

    Anyhow, very good set-up - I'd read on.

  13. I think start with: A memory assaults me. Being dragged along the damp forest ground. Fallen branches digging their spikes into my bare legs. The darkness suffocating me.

    and maybe continue with this scene; otherwise it feels too choppy and disconnected.

  14. Totally hooked. This is a great start. All I can really say is I want to read more. Very well done.

  15. The set up and plot is intriguing. But something in the writing is stopping me from becoming fully involved with your protagonist. I didn't feel like I had a connection with her. And, getting that connection on page one is so integral.

    Perhaps it's a matter of not distancing her from the action. She's watching the news; the scene feels very much a set up. If you started with her in the midst of a memory (brought on by the tv) and she's taken out of it by a question from her mother...that may better entrench us in her narrative.

    The premise has promise but I suggest really working on bringing us closer to your MC.

  16. Interesting set up and throws us right into the mystery of what happened to the missing girl. My impression is different from the others - I didn't come away thinking the MC had been abducted for any length of time, but perhaps escaped the situation at the first opportunity. Something the missing girl failed to do.