Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #46

TITLE: Koru -New Beginnings
GENRE: YA Contemporary/Ghost/Magical Realism

Possibility died. Logic. Sense. They were the next to leave, and I started my slow claw to something else - someone else. It should’ve been easy for someone like me. I’m the product of lies. I am a lie.

But, the facts.

It was Tuesday. The sun was shining. The sky dazzled blue. I got home early - Tuesday being my cruisey day, if anything could be cruisey about senior year. Something felt different as soon as I stepped through the back door. I didn’t know what, just something.

Then I noticed the seashell chimes hanging in the window. Mum made me take them down, said it pained her to hear them, but there they were again after weeks of only a bare string dangling in the breeze.

And the windows were opened. The room full of blinding light. I do not come home to light filling in spaces, or the smell of sea air forcing out the staleness of a house locked up in goodbyes. I come home to darkness, stillness – a careful-how-you-walk kind of quiet.

I dropped my backpack, and beyond the thud of it hitting the floor, I heard her. ‘Hey Soph.’
She sounded so – normal. So very normal.

The hairs rose on the back of my neck, a warning I didn’t heed, and yet didn’t quite ignore either. Tread carefully, a little voice whispered inside me. But when you want something so badly, the facts, reality, feet-on-the-ground stuff disappears.


  1. I really like the voice of this one and I was instantly intrigued, but this paragraph was a little confusing for me:

    And the windows were opened. The room full of blinding light. I do not come home to light filling in spaces, or the smell of sea air forcing out the staleness of a house locked up in goodbyes. I come home to darkness, stillness – a careful-how-you-walk kind of quiet

    I'm not entirely sure what that means that the narrator doesn't come home to light. Maybe it means this is the first time he's ever come home to a "blinding light" but I think that can be made just a little bit clearer. That being said, I would definitely keep reading to find out what's going on.

  2. I agree with Buckeyegirl That paragraph confused me but I really liked the voice. Also your genre confused me. Contemporary means everyday like ex: A girl stuck in a love triangle between her two best guy friends over the summer. Ghost seeing and magic is paranormal or possibly fantasy. The only way that magic would be contemporary is if you're talking about the fake kind that people use in magic shows.

  3. Great voice, and I'm intrigued. RIght away I have questions -- why are the seashells back? Who is Soph? Why is the house usually dark and stale but not today? I'm hooked and I'll keep reading to find out the answers!

  4. I don't know what "cruisey" is or should mean, but other than that, I think this is excellent. Well-written, intriguing right off the bat, quirky/odd-ball, descriptive. "a careful-how-you-walk kind of quiet..." "a house locked up in goodbyes..." This is the kind of turn-of-phrase that is the reason I read. Well done!

    The "blinding light" made me think paranormal as I only associate that with coming out from darkness or after life experiences, etc. If she's coming home from a school day and the lights are on, that is one thing, but I wouldn't call that a blinding light...this can be fixed by just taking out "blinding."

    At any rate, you've hooked me. I'd love to read more. Need a beta? :-)

  5. I'm hooked! Love the writing, as Courtney says, you have some lovely turns of phrase. I presume her mother has been in mourning or mentally unwell and so Soph is shocked to come back to find her and the house 'normal' again. I wasn't confused by the para about light at all - I presume the curtains and windows are normally closed.

    My only criticism would be that you verge slightly on the 'trying to be too mysterious and keeping too much back from the reader' side, but as long as I got some answers soon (which I think we will), that's fine. Good stuff!

  6. I really like this. I, too, picked up on the fact that her mother must be in mourning, shutting herself in, and being anything but normal for Soph. If she's lost one parent, possibly? The mourning of the other can feel like you've lost them both. A teenager would desperately want to have at least one of them back. I think you've set this up really well.

    A nit-pick for consistency: The sun was shining. The sky dazzled blue. (I would change to "sun shone" "sky dazzled" and take out "was")

    Otherwise, thoroughly intrigued! I would definitely read on. Thanks!

  7. I like the language, especially the bang-up start of "I am a lie." Pulled me right in. (Detail: "some" in some form is used a lot in the first bit.) I'm guessing Soph knows who belongs to the voice, and from the genre, pobably a ghost, but I'd liked to have immediate confirmation of that. Makes me wonder what it is that Soph wants so much to ignore all the other strange stuff.

  8. This is really really good except for the confusing, off-kilter line in the first graf about I started my slow claw to something else ... almost didn't read past that graf - but glad I did.

  9. I liked the writing, but wasn't sure who "she" it her mom? Was she dead and now she's back?
    And the first paragraph threw me off a bit, but I thought the rest was very lyrical...especially the paragraph about the seashells.
    I'd keep reading to find out more...
    Good Luck!

  10. Love the voice. However, as already mentioned by others, some sentences needs smoothing out.


  11. darkeningshadowsMay 19, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    Fantastic, I really loved it.
    - Great voice and character, very unique.
    - Excellent use of subtle background information by giving just enough to keep the reader intrigued, but not giving away too much as to take away from the mystery of it.
    - It draws me in from the start, and makes me wonder why? A feat that is quite hard to achieve by many writers.
    I feel the strong arms of the story already beginning to clasp my shoulders, and pull me into the world of 'Koru'.
    Keep up the great work.
    I must also add that in regards to Sarah's comment, I completely disagree. Contemporary fiction is defined by a series of characteristics, and does not just relate to the vaguely stated term of 'everyday events'. Contemporary fiction includes themes, events, feelings, and emotions, that appeal to the audience, and that the reader can relate to. Furthermore, it represents a story/setting, that is set in our modern world/present day.
    Therefore, in saying this, the genre suits this piece just fine.

  12. I too loved the writing/voice but didn't quite get the overall story. Lots of great images here: the seashell chimes, the "house locked up in goodbyes." The challenge is getting them to hang together into something coherent.. which may even mean weeding some of them out.

  13. Thanks very much to everyone for popping in and making comment.
    Always appreciated! Always helpful! Always interesting!
    To CourtneyC...anytime, so long as I can return the favour! :)
    Thank you again.

  14. I think you should start with this paragraph:
    "The windows were opened. The room full of blinding light. I do not come home to light filling in spaces, or the smell of sea air forcing out the staleness of a house locked up in goodbyes. I come home to darkness, stillness – a careful-how-you-walk kind of quiet."
    I think this sets the tone of uneasiness very well. The rest before that, I resisted because it seemed too "telling" and not "showing." The "smell of sea air forcing out the staleness of house locked up in goodbyes" is excellent description and really shows me that something sunny and bright is sinister which is a great opening to a paranormal/ghost story.

  15. I'm so proud of you! Totally floored. Can't wait for more. :)

    Marie at the Cheetah

  16. I think this would be a stronger opener:

    I'm the product of lies. I am a lie.

    I like the first few sentences as you have them, although I wondered if "claw" was a typo for "crawl." But they strike me as a reaction to seeing the house, with windows open and lights on. That reaction is interrupted by the sentences about lies. So I like them, I'd just rearrange the order a bit.

  17. I really liked this, especially the paragraph about not used to coming home to light. I'm not a fan of your first two paragraphs though. It's all telling and I don't know what's going on. Your writing is much stronger below. I would recommend starting at "Something felt different...", although I would edit the next sentence. It's not bad but the rest of your writing is so much better I think you could make it even stronger.

  18. I agree with Bron about the first two pargs. I didn't think they did much for you, and would have started at - it was Tuesday.

    I like the subtlety, how you hint at things instead of just coming right out and saying them. It gives an air of mystery that fits the genre.

    My only suggestion would be to show this. It's almost all telling, and in spite of that, it's still very good. So if it's this good in telling mode, it would be super in showing mode.

    DOn't tell us she noticed the wind chimes. Let her hear a tinkling sound which draws her attention to them. Don't say the windows were open. Let her feel a breeze or see the curtains flutter. Give us images we can see and you'll make this more than it already is.

  19. The first paragraph was kind of confusing for me, but after that, it really took off. I felt very present as I read, and would definitely read more.

  20. What I liked: The voice, some of the unique turns of phrase, like a “careful-how-you-walk kind of quiet” and the image of a bare string dangling in the breeze.

    What needed work: This feels like an odd entrance point into a story, especially considering the shift from the first paragraph to the second. I may have stopped reading after the first paragraph just because it’s so jolting and strange, although things did pick up enough as it went along to make me want to keep going.

    Would I keep reading based on this sample: Yes.