Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #19

TITLE: Melody Ghost
GENRE: YA urban fantasy/ sci-fi

"Anything but this," whispered Stella.

She stood in front of the dark wooden door. It looked as prohibiting as a sealed mouth, and she reached for her godfather's hand. Paris took it and squeezed.

"You all right?" His words dropped like pebbles in the silence. Stella nodded yes, but it wasn't true. Her heart flogged against her chest, as if a woodpecker banged inside her ribcage.

"Just seems so big," she said. How stupid that sounded. Why was she afraid of a simple Victorian house when she needed to worry about the reason she stood in front of it?

Paris only smiled and faced the door again. Bending over, he put down the suitcase and punched the doorbell. "Take a look around. This will be your home for a long time. This is a new change, Stella."

The door opened.

It was a young blond girl in kitchen service gear--blue skirt, white blouse, blue lace-up, white apron, white cap. She had an iPhone in her hand but when she saw them she stuffed it in her pocket.

"Yes, sir?" she asked, bug eyed and meek. "May I help you?" She looked at them closer, then said, "You must be Paris Osprey and Stella Phoebe?"

"That's it," said Paris with a grin. He held out his hand, and the girl smiled and shook it.

"Please," she opened the oak door wider, "come in."

They stepped inside the house. As the girl clicked the door shut Stella glanced around.


  1. The first few paragraphs really pulled me in. I love the language and I wanted to know what this girl was facing that had her so terrified. (I thought your comparisons with the pebbles and the woodpecker were nicely done.) I assumed there was something deadly behind the door. But then, in the fifth paragraph, it turned out just to be the new house she's moving into. I'm still curious as to what's upsetting her, but I no longer think her life is in immediate danger, so it took away some tension for me. I think if it was clear right away that she's moving in, I could still be intrigued without feeling disoriented. Hope that makes sense. ^_^;;

  2. Katrina S. Forest,

    Thank you for your comment! I was worried the beginning wasn't good enough, so your comment helped.

    Thanks again!


  3. This didn't work for me. It's too focused on the motions and not enough on the emotions. Why are they there? How old is she? Why is she being left alone. I know these will get answered in the story, but there isn't enough here for me to get attached to the mc.

  4. The idea draws me in more than the writing. I think there's a way to combine sentences to make it flow.

    For example:
    The dark wooden door looked prohibiting, a sealed mouth in front of her. The squeeze of her godfather's hand couldn't erase the dread she felt at the site of the old Victorian.
    The blond girl wore servants' clothes--blue skirt, white blouse, blue lace-up, white apron, white cap. She quickly stuffed her iPhone in her pocket when she greeted them.

    It helps to simplify descriptions, too. For example, in the third paragraph, you introduce pebbles, flogging and a woodpecker's banging. Pick one image and expand maybe?

    There's a creepy plot in there. Just nurture it out a bit more!

  5. I was disappointd too, that it turned out to be just a new house. I think what might be your real hook is 'why' she is there. That might be a more interesting fact to drop into this. You could say why, right after she says she should be worried about why.

    And it could be tightened up a lot.

    I don't feel like there's anything inherently wrong here, it's just that nothing really stands out. Maybe look at word choices and sentence structure to punch up the writing, and work in a bigger hook, which just might be the 'why' of it all.

  6. Pet peeve radar buzzing. Modern gadgetry with manufacturer name attached (iphone); odd/inappropriate metaphors (hearts don't flog; woodpeckers would tear through her ribcage if they pecked there...); an elephant in the room that manages not to be described (the Victorian's exterior); redundancies ("new change"). All that said, I'm a big fan of the predicament here. Just needs some cleaning and re-focusiing.

  7. Mr. (Ms.?) Secret Agent,

    Thank you for your time and feedback. Your comments are helpful. I'll cut out the odd metaphors, add more description to the setting (the house) and tighten the writing.

    And thank you, Barbara, Durango Writer, and Danielle Paglia.

    It is revealed in the next paragraph why she's so nervous. First it's Stella's inner conflict, then there's physical danger at the end of the chapter. Paris is an angel, and there's a lot of science fiction in this story too.

    Thanks again for y'all's time!