Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Sad Girl

"Kat, we're going to have a baby."

When he said it, I felt something crack deep in my brain. That might have been the moment I lost my mind.

"We have something to tell you." Steve said it. Like what they were about to say was so terrible that he didn't want the filthy words to cross my mother's tongue. His stinking pink shirt, and his arm clamped around her shoulder, and that look on his face. Urgh that look. Hopeful and frightened.

Mom had it too. Like I was some kind of monster about to feed and they hoped the small lamb they were about to offer up would be enough to satisfy me. She sat there on that matted brown chair--the one that Steve insisted on keeping when we moved in two years agoâ--hands resting on her lap, looking at me. I can't remember the last time she looked at me. In my eyes anyway. And her brown cow eyes were wet. "Honey," she was shaking.

Come on. What could you possibly have to tell me that would shock me? You were there when Dad died seven years ago. You eloped with Steve when I was on an overnight camping trip. You didn't tell me we were moving to Steve's house until the truck showed up. Seriously, I was ready for anything.

"Just tell me." I tried to say it gently.


  1. I'm intrigued. I would read more, especially since you did a great job hooking me with the main character's emotions.

    While I know you're not supposed to start off with dialogue, it worked here. It wouldn't have worked, though, if you had started off with the other piece of dialogue: "we have something to tell you."

    You have one little typo: two years ago. You've got a foreign language letter at the end of ago.

    Good luck! :D

  2. I like your character and the premise seems interesting. Find a way to show emotions behind the backstory, and reveal the backstory more gradually. It seems like a lot of telling right away.

  3. I love the second paragraph, brilliant comment! :D

    Other than that though, I'm afraid I'm not hooked. It sounds a bit muddled to me, and I'm having a hard time keeping track of what's going on.

    I think this could be clearer if you make the writing more focused. It feels as though you're trying to tell us too much too soon. If you can do that, I'd love to read on :)

    Best of luck!

  4. When I read the first line I wasn't sure I would like to read more, I'm glad I did though. This hooked me enough to want to figure out what's going on here. I didn't mind the quick tells, they speed it up to get to the good parts where I'm trusting you showed us what's going on and helped us feel what your characters are feeling.

    I trust this writing enough to go on. Great job!

  5. My first reaction was that the person in the opening quote was telling the protagonist she was having a baby. Might just need some rearranging.
    I'm also confused by the last line (Just tell me.) Wasn't the baby the big news?
    Good last paragraph. I'd read more.

  6. The first line seemed out of place. Like it should have been the last line in the excerpt rather than the first.

  7. I love "Like I was some kind of monster about to feed and they hoped the small lamb they were about to offer up would be enough to satisfy me." Lines like that say a lot about the three characters. Having the "we're going to have a baby" comment and then backtracking to before that comment really threw me out though... you might restructure the beginning of this.

  8. I get what you're going for in regards to spilling the news, and then going back and divulging the reader with what happened before the awful new was said, but I don't know if it actually hooked me. A lot of information was given in the first 250 words and I had to reread the paragraphs again to get the gist of it. I agree with the consensus to restructure, because it sounds like a very interesting story.

  9. I didn't see the point in telling us the news right up front and then going back to tell us how she was told. It's just one line, so why not tell it in chronological order? It might pull the reader along rather than being a bit confusing.

    And then you have the comment about that being the moment she lost her mind, which to me, says maybe she flipped out, started yelling and screaming, and there's none of that here.

    The emotion is strong but it would be stronger in the moment rather than after the fact.

  10. Intrigued, but some of the punctuation confuses me - and I'm confused by the very first line. Is THIS the news they deliver and the rest is flashback? That's not clear. And it makes the tension in the scene uneven - something momentous has already been said ... and then they have something to tell her? Your build-up after that is great, but the impact is lessened by what comes before it.

  11. I think clarity is the only issue IMO and it can be fixed with two words.

    Try: Kat, your mom and I are pregnant.

    Try: We have something else to tell you.

    Otherwise fine.

  12. I like the pessimistic and sarcastic tone of the MC. I'm a bit confused as to what the "big news" actually is - is it the baby? So why say it first, then do the lead up? Or, is the news actually *about* the baby (something wrong with it) that the 250 word count prevented you from going into? If it's the former, may want to reverse how you've got this set up to avoid the confusion - if it's the latter, still needs a little clarification. Perhaps MC should questions what further news they could possibly throw at her, as if the baby wasn't enough, sort of thing.

  13. This reads a bit unclear to me. I, too, am confused by what the news actually is. Clarification would make this read better. Yet overall I'm intrigued enough to want to read on. I have a good sense of the characters already and I think the premise could be compelling if it's not about being sent away to school. (This happens too often for my taste.)
    I think the title is...well...sad.

  14. Thanks, everyone! I appreciate your helpful criticism. And thank you, Secret Agent.

    It is not about being sent away to school. :)