Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #42

TITLE: Unnatural
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

"Come with me, Alexa." A voice in the shadows said.

I looked around. I was standing under the bleachers in the gym of my high school, West Palm Prep; my back was pressed up against the cool stone wall-it gave me a chill. The leftover scent of sweat, stale popcorn and spilled soda lingered in the air from the last basketball game. Boom... boom boom...
Boom...the music of the homecoming dance kept playing as the latest hip hop song blared and echoed off the cavernous walls. The bass vibrated my chest. Colorful lights bounced in the otherwise dark space.

"Why?" I couldn't see the person's face, but I felt the weight of the words they spoke, that there would be dangerous consequences if I listened. I felt conflicted and confused but more than that, I was scared. I knew in my heart I shouldn't go with them, but my mind disagreed.

The monotone voice took a strange, possessive tone. "Because you're the one we've been looking for."*

I sat up in bed, breathless. I'd never had a vision of the future like that before. Maybe it was a nightmare-but my visions have never failed me. What could it mean? I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and stood quickly, not giving myself a chance to awaken. My legs tingled with pins and needles as the blood rushed down. I regretted taking a nap before the homecoming dance, but I'd been so tired lately, I needed it.


  1. I like the setup, but I think the author should add intensity to both the dream/vision and the wake. We get that Alexa has visions, but it should be more ominous and she should be more shaken when she wakes up.

  2. Nice description of under the high school bleachers. I'm guessing the MC has visions whenever she naps or sleeps, or often. I'm wondering more about her visions -- good or bad? Warnings or what might be or what will be? This got my heart thumping enough to read on.

  3. I enjoyed the descriptions with great sensory input and I think they could have even more impact if they were tightened up.

    On the other hand, opening up the story with a dream and waking is often done. I really wanted something unique to hook me about the dream to make me read further.

    I'm sorry, I wasn't hooked.

  4. After reading this, it helped me understand why everyone always says, "Don't start with a dream sequence." The writing was good, and I was interested in what was happening under those bleachers and who these creepy people were...until I found out it was a dream!
    That was a bummer for me...but I liked your writing!
    Good Luck!

  5. Nice sensory detailing put me in the scene. Great internal conflict, and the creepy voice has definitely piqued my interest. Wondering if the voice is otherworldly, or part of a mystery. I would keep reading to find out. But .. . . . . I had the same reaction as GretchenK. I felt a bit let-down that it was only a dream.

  6. Oooh, creepy. I like it. I know it's a dream and starting with dreams is taboo, but I think this is perhaps a bit different since she's about to go to the Homecoming dance. As a reader, I'm holding onto a promise that I'll know the outcome of this vision very soon.

    Just a small grammar issue, that first line should all be one sentence, not separated in two. "Come with me Alexa," a voice in the shadows said. (That's another rule of thumb-- don't start with dialogue. Is there another way you could start?)

    Best of luck!

  7. Somewhat awkward set-up and less than precise writing - a person speaks to her but she refers to this one person as "they" and "them" - the bass wouldn't actually vibrate her chest - the "it gave me a chill" is stuck onto the end of an already complex sentence - "strange, possessive tone" sounds like something out of a bad sci-fi movie. Needs cleaning up ... and perhaps not the best place to start.

  8. I was so excited and then . . . a dream. Could you find another way to start it that explains that she has visions without it being a "then she woke up" scene? I loved the detail, though, just not the technique.

  9. I have to admit I felt cheated when I found out this was a vision. Can you start with this as it's happening and add in the concept that she'd seen this in a vision already? That way, it's a strong opening scene in its own right.

  10. I really hate that it's a dream. The details of the dance were so good that I thought it was real--then I read "I sat up in bed", which is the same as being told "Ha! Fooled you!"

    Also, in the beginning, the voice says 'me', but the mc mentions the words 'they' spoke. That needs to be clarified.

  11. For me, I'd rather it didn't begin with dialogue. I wouldn't start with a dream either. It becomes too much of a let down. Perhaps, she could be on her way and recalling certain aspects of the dream, relating them to the present happenings. Perhaps she hears his voice and it reminds her of the dream, and she becomes confused by it. Hope you know what I mean. I've got flu - and I keep saying that in case I'm not coming across as best I could, but I hope you get the gist of what I'm saying. LInk it to the present happenings!

  12. I liked the writing but would suggest rephrasing a few sentences to avoid starting with 'I' too many times. I agree with the others, starting with a dream has been done many times before, which is why it's become a bit of a no-no, but all in all, I thought it was interesting. I'd probably keep on reading to find out why she's so tired lately.

  13. I would suggest perhaps starting in a different place. As others have noted, the dream, while interesting, turns out to be a letdown for many readers,and when she comes out of her vision, she's sitting up in bed and nothing is happening. YOu've given the reader two reasons not to read on. Starting in the real world at an interesting moment may work better.

  14. Starting with a dream is a bad idea for two reasons. Firstly, it's very common. You have to work a lot harder to impress an agent if it's an opening they've seen tens of thousands of times before. But more importantly, it leaves the reader feeling cheated. I was wondering what was going to happen to your character, who the mysterious voice belongs to, etc., but then your character woke up. Immediately the tension was killed because I realised your character wasn't in any danger, she was in her bed. Even if it is a vision of the future, she's not in danger now, so I have no reason to read on.

    That's a long way of saying I think you should start somewhere else.

  15. I'm with the others on the dream thing. I liked the premise of the opening and then was disappointed.

    One tiny thing. If I voice I didn't recognise asked me to come with them, and I couldn't see them, my first question wouldn't be 'why?' but 'who the hell are you?'

  16. What I liked: Some nice descriptions.

    What needed work: Find a different point to start other than a dream. The creepy voice felt forced and somewhat simple for young adult. I didn’t feel particularly connected to the main character.

    Would I keep reading based on this sample? No.

  17. I was really getting into it, but was all a dream. I think having a character who has prophetic dreams is fine, but I'd be careful of starting out with a dream when we don't know the main character at all yet. I suppose you could give the reader some warning by setting it off in italics (which I believe doesn't come through in these posts, even if you did put it in italics to start out with). But I'd still like to know the character better.

    Good job at putting me in the scene, though, as I obviously bought it as real until you said it was only a dream.