Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #40

TITLE: Fixing Shelby
GENRE: YA Contemporary

"Seriously, Shelby Honey. You could put on a little bit more make-up. You look pale." Mom held the steering wheel with one hand and grabbed her purse with the other. She plopped the large leather bag on my lap. "I know I have several shades of blush in there. Help yourself."

I glared at the purse for a moment before setting it at my feet. Sucking in a breath, I held it while counting the houses that passed by my window. Two more streets and we'd be there.

I sighed. "You didn't have to drive me, Mom."

I'd rather be home cleaning the toilet bowl with my toothbrush or straightening her poodle's kinky fur. Or even pulling my toenails out with tweezers.

Okay, maybe not that.

"Oh, I know, Honey. How nice of Ashleigh to call and invite you so youâ're not sitting home bored."

I rolled my eyes. Yes, how nice of Ashleigh to call me at the last minute.

"You should be a little more grateful."

Whatever. Ashleigh knew I wouldn't want to go. She should have realized my mom would jump at the chance for me to be social. Of course, that required Ash to put more than one thought together at a time. A little too complicated for my "best" friend.

"I don't know why you gave her such a hard time about going."


  1. Maybe start with a bit more about the MC. Starting with dialogue is a bit disconcerting and I really don't care about the MC yet.

    Not sure about the toenails, either. So gruesome. That idea took me out of the story.

    Seems like MC must be very young else why would her mother be driving her anywhere?

    Need something positive about the MC so I care about her.

  2. I really like the idea here. The main character doesn't want to go somewhere, but her mother's compelling her out of good will. However, I don't connect with your MC. More background?

    (The description of the toenails also drew me out of the story. Maybe something less graphic?)

  3. Well, I liked the toenails:) And felt it was right on with age catagory. I'll agree about starting with dialogue. It's chanc-y, because it comes off as "Talking Heads," meaning we don't know anyone or care about them, yet. I was really curious about her anger toward her best friend. It seemed she was mad at her for inviting her, and this intrigued me. I like the voice. I think you might want to strengthen Shelby so she's not such a victim, but I would read on.

  4. Nice voice, I especially like the line about cleaning the toilet with the toothbrush.

    I wanted to get an idea of the MC's age and maybe some small hint re: what happened with Ashleigh.

  5. I was okay with the toenail reference too, it seems appropriate for the age group (everything's SO dramatic) and tells me something about the MC's character. The general relationships between characters is there, but the actual problem with the invitation isn't. It's hard in 250 words.

    I was a little concerned about her mother routinely carrying around several shades of blush in her purse, and curious about the MC's age. If her mother wanted her to wear makeup, I would assume older, but her mother's driving her implying she's younger. It's hard to tell in YA, so that should be cleared up quickly (if it isn't a paragraph later.)

    Not hooked yet, but its got a good voice and I'd read on.

  6. In just 250 words, three characters were introduced - Shelby, Mother and AshLeigh. I am getting comfortable with them and I would liked to read on.

  7. I'm intrigued by the dynamics between the three characters already...why would the mother want her daughter to wear there a reason she's pale or is she simply not living up to her mother's standards and thus the title, Fixing Shelby...intrigued and certainly want to read more...
    Watch format, there were a couple very minor spaces, etc. that should be addressed. Nicely done!

  8. #40,

    When I read the first paragraph, I thought it read smoothly, but there wasn't much going on.

    Then I realized the MC was going some where important, and she was nervous. You "showed" this, which was great.

    However, I think the story would start stronger if you started it off like this:

    Sucking in a breath, I held it while counting the houses that passed by my window. Two more streets and we'd be there.

    Good luck.

  9. I didn't have a problem with starting with dialogue. I think it's clear who, and where, they are. ANd I thought you raised some interesting questions to prompt the reader to read on.

    The problem for me was that it seemed sort of disjointed, like the things they were saying to each other didn't flow very well. Mom comments about putting on makeup, and she replies about mom driving her. Wouldn't she reply about the makeup first?

    And I thought you could slip in the reason why she doesn't want to go to Ashleigh's as an ending hook, rather than having Mom ask the question.

  10. Nice work characterizing the mom through dialogue. Just that one word, "honey," does so much. The set up here is compelling, too, but this entry could use some pruning. One example that would appease my sense of economy and still maintain the tone of things here: "I glared at the purse for a moment before setting it at my feet. I'd rather be home cleaning the toilet bowl with my toothbrush or ripping out my fingernails than primping in the car on the way to my 'best' friend's house. 'You didn't have to drive me, Mom.'"

  11. I really enjoyed reading this excerpt. I liked all the descriptive details that made me immediately imagine the character and her irritation/ discomfort.