Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #38


My mother's mission in life is to change me. She'll deny it, but it's gotten so obvious since Daddy's accident. For instance she's been buying me clothes, which she has to know I'll never wear, and just yesterday she made a hair appointment for me. At her hair salon.

"Jenna and I are going back to school shopping today," I blurt the words so loudly, that Mama stops playing with the paint can labeled Tuna Gray. She takes the spoon she's using to try and pry the lid off the can, and taps it on our kitchen counter.

"You agreed to visit Daddy today, Stoney, remember? We've already talked about this." Tap, tap. "I've been patient with you, but no more." She throws the spoon in the sink and it clatters. "Jenna can't go shopping any other time." Mama makes that face. The one that says, You Are Impossible.


  1. This entry seems particularly short, which only adds to my desire to want to read more and find out what Daddy's accident was, and why her mother wants to change her, and how the two are related. The voice is great and the little details like the paint can label and tapping the spoon on the counter are just enough to set the scene for me. Not sure if it's the way this was formatted when posted, but for a second the two separate speakers in the same (last) paragraph threw me. But I love the last line! Definitely would like to see more!

  2. Is Stoney a boy or a girl? That was my first thought. I'm guessing a girl, but the name seems very odd, like a nickname you'd give a kid whose film-buff dad dubbed "Rocky" out of spite.

    The dialogue tags strike me as a bit clumsy. As a general rule, it's better to default to "he said," and "I said," rather than "I blurted." If the dialogue is strong enough, the emphasis you're looking for will be there without the narration having to talk about it.

    Also, I wanted to be deeper in Stoney's head during all of this, particularly because I don't understand why, if her father recently died in an accident (which seems to be the implication) that she would avoid a chance to go to his grave, or see him in the hospital if he's still alive. As it is, she comes across as somewhat shallow, giving up a chance to see her possibly-dead father just to go shopping with her friend.

    I don't think that I would continue reading past this chunk. It needs a bit more work. Hope my suggestions help.

  3. Thanks for good feedback--It is short and I do feel a bit cheated on that--When I submitted it said I was 30 words over the limit-but by my count I was spot on. Anyway, this is only 149 words. Sadly, I think this is going to go against me. I do appreciate the feddback, and Addley the "blurt" bothers me too!

  4. I would read on! I'm curious about Daddy's accident, and I'm intrigued by why Stoney wants to put off this visit so badly. The writing is slightly choppy, but nothing I couldn't live with.

  5. I liked this! I'm guessing this is historical (from the word choice of mother and Daddy).

    Wished it was longer, want to

  6. I think you miss an opportunity in this short intro to give your MC a unique voice. Right now, it reads generic.

    Maybe something like:

    My mother's on a mission to change me. It's so obvious even though she'd deny it to her grave. Who does she think she's fooling? Every since Daddy's accident it's been, "Wear this," or "style your hair this way."
    I mean, just yesterday she made an appointment for me at HER hair salon. Am I some old lady?

    I don't know if a teen would say "back to school shopping".
    Might be another way to tell us the time of year.

    Also, there's not enough body language to show me MC is nervous and mother is frustrated/impatient.

    I'm intrigued by Daddy's accident. I'd read a few pages to see where this was going.

  7. Definitely comes out that mother is tensed. I did not understand the first para though. She starts with her mother obsessed about changing her and then it moves on to shopping with Jenna. It is a short paragraph, so I am assuming more would come after this. So, I would really would have liked to read more. It is good though.

  8. I liked Durango writer's comments/suggestions about how to make the MC's voice stronger, but since we don't know exactly where this is going, perhaps you have a method in mind. I'm curious about the time period too...that's what I love about these 250 words (or less, that happened to me too, the first time I submitted) you get a taste and are left wanting more. I also love reading about mother/daughter dynamics. Write on!

  9. Overall, this seems pretty generic, (Not bad, but it doesn't stand out either) but perhaps that's because we're not getting the full 250 words

    Who is Stoney talking to in the first parg? It seems to be the reader, but unless this story has already happened and she's telling it after the fact ( and she isn't because "I blurt" is present tense) then she shouldn't be talking to the reader. The reader doesn't exist in her world. Perhaps start with parg 2.

  10. It's decent writing, economic, with the salient details thrown in without unnecessary fanfair. Big points for all that. But, it may lean a little too far to neutral, tiptoeing into the land of bland. The dad's accident intrigues me but not enough. And the predicament of mother wanting to change daughter, intrigues me, but not enough. Perhaps a few more telling details will help. What sort of clothes did Mom buy? What kind of salon is Mom's salon (the sort where hair is set with curlers by women with blue hair?). What sort of girl is this Jenna character (trouble, I hope), and most important, what truly wretched thoughts is the narrator suppressing, and can a few of them leak out without giving away the store?