Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #35

TITLE: Loving Adeline
GENRE: Literary YA

Whoever wrote 'the world is my playground' obviously lives in a different universe. The world I live in is chaos at the best of times, incomprehensible at the worst.

These are the worst of times.

I push myself against a locker and try to fold the walls around me. It feels as though I stepped into hell, not high school, and hell is a constant myriad of impressions. I am only eight steps from the door, but I can't see it. I know Ms. Newark hovers around me because I can feel the warmth of her skin, but I can't see her.

Everything around me blurs. Faces, colors, sounds. Only the eyes are clear and they're all staring at me. Telling me I don't belong here. Strange. Abnormal.


I move my hands so my palms are flat against the smooth steel surface pressed against my back. It calms me a little.

Looking up was a mistake. Life is easier when you're staring at the floor. When you don't have to meet the eyes burning holes in your soul.

I can feel Ms. Newark draw closer, but I'm not prepared for the lightning bolt when she touches my shoulder. I jump. Out of her reach, away from her hands. Eight steps to the door feels like an obstacle course. Try to dodge the people walking towards me, try to keep them from touching me. I have nowhere to go, but I need to get out.


  1. I like this. It raises lots of questions that make me want to read on, like what's the deal with Ms. Newark, and how can the MC feel her coming, and why does that upset him/her? The obstacle course is an evocative image. The only thing missing is a sense of whether the protagonist is male or female, but as this would be on the book jacket, I don't find it problematic. Well done!

  2. I'm definitely intrigued with these opening passages. I am wanting to visualize the scene, so it does make me wish I knew if the protag was male or female.

    The opening two paragraphs effectively set tone. Then you move into setting the scene, which works pretty well. I didn't visualize the protag with back against the locker until the lines about the hands against the steel (which I love). Before that, I picture the protag facing the locker - maybe because you'd be hiding more if you were not facing all the action of the hallway.

    These are nit picky scene setting issues, but the intrigue is definitely present to make a reader continue.

  3. I'm intrigued and would definitely read on. I love the descriptions. I agree with ckbasi about the gender. I'm reading as if it's a female because that's what it sounds like to me, and also because most of the books I read have female protagonists. ;)

    Great job!

  4. I love the start. Great voice. I'm a little confused as to what's going on, why she's so freaked out, but that would keep me reading to find out.

  5. I like the rhythm and pacing of this piece.

    The line "It feels as though I stepped into hell, not high school . . ." confuses me. She is leaning against a locker, but is it the beginning of the school day? Is she deciding to ditch? I need something to show me the time of day because she's heading for the door. Also, "myriad of impressions" in the same line raises questions.

    I really want to know what's going on with Ms. Newark, who she is to your MC. And, I want to know why your MC is a freak. Very intriguing opening. I'd read on.

    Best wishes!

  6. Excellent.

    My one and only crit is subjective. I would change the last line to "...I need to escape".
    Pure opinion, btw.

    Loved it.

  7. I'm freaked out by Ms. Newark. That alone would make me read on. It seems that the kid is not only sensitive but having a psycotic episode typical with paranoid scizophrenics. (the kid's Reality alters, hands are reaching out to 'get' him, horrible consequenses. the door isn't visible. If that's not your intent IMO you need to qualify the kid's feelings in terms of emotional reactions to the environment, or maybe the kid breaks-out in hives or has a severe almost asthmatic reaction, and/or his vision blurs when this happens.

    Hey, I'd still read on because I think you know what you're delivering to us. After all "loving Adeline" tells me the kid can love or will love and not buy a magazine clip for his pistol.

  8. The lightning bolt confuses me (and I don't see what makes this literary YA) but I'd read on.

  9. Yes, I like this one. It draws you in. You make good use of the one word sentence, it's a powerful tool, but it loses its punch if you use it too much. Since it occurs several times in these first few words, it might be something to look out for. Good job.

  10. To start with, I loved the first line! And then I really enjoyed the rest of it as well. The reader feels the urgency of the protagonist, which isn't an easy task in 250 words or less;-)

  11. This entry left me with lots of questions - which, BTW, was a good thing. :) I'd read on. It doesn't feel like literary YA to me - more like YA with a serious message.

    When you initially introduced Ms Newark I thought she was a ghost that the MC could 'feel' - a bit confusing, but I'd changed my mind by the end of the piece. Is it a problem that I started off thinking 'ghost'? Not sure.

    Overall, a fab piece of writing. I'm hooked. Definitely.

  12. Great entry - intrigued by your MC and what is setting him/her apart from everyone else.

    Your flow is solid and I enjoyed the visuals you created. I also really enjoyed the voice of your MC (regardless of being either male or female!).

    Net/net - solid writing. I'd like to read more.

  13. I LOVE this. I can feel the MC's emotions, like I'm standing right there with her (I think it's a girl). And this line, "I push myself against a locker and try to fold the walls around me." just makes me shiver. More now please.

  14. Really like how you've thrown us into the MC's head straight away. Even more love the line "Life is easier when you're staring at the floor." Those little descriptions help me understand her POV right away.
    Can't find anything I don't like about it. Great job!!

  15. I get the sense that something has just happened to the MC before the story starts. (I imagined the MC to be male) And it bugs me that you didn't say what it was. There is obviously a reason for him to be acting/feeling as he does and as a reader, I want to know what it is.

    I also think whatever is happening to him is something I need to know now, not something kept secret. I can wait to find out why and how it happened, but I can't relate to him if I don't understand what it is that is actually happening.

    Having said that, it's written well, and I can feel his fear and anxiety, and nobody else seemed to have an issue with it, so maybe it's just me.

  16. Maybe I'm missing something but I just don't feel anything for this character. I'm left adrift. It reads very lyrical to me and I'm distanced from the situation.

    It might just take more for me to get what's going on but these 250 words leave me confused.

  17. I have to agree with Secret Agent, this was a very disconnected piece. I can see how people would connect with that disconnection in itself, mostly because high school makes you feel that a lot. It felt more like a philospher was posing questions AT me.

    It's beautiful writing, don't get me wrong. And literary YA is supposed to be abstract in a way, but I didn't connect with anything. Even a little 'I wiped my smudging eyeliner' would have connected me enough.

  18. I initially liked the voice of the MC in this one, but starting with the third paragraph it starts to feel like you're trying too hard to make this literary. I think Michelle puts it perfectly when she describes the piece as "disconnected."

    You definitely write well and I enjoyed your varied sentence structure. The technical aspect of your writing is very strong, but I'd pull out some of the literary stylings.

  19. Thanks so much! I really appreciate all your comments! :)

    To clear up some confusion - Jaime, my MC, is a girl. She's also autistic. The distant feel may be a result of that as her world view is pretty disconnected. But I'm off to take another look at the chapter with your comments in mind!

    Thank you <3