Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #9

TITLE: Censored
GENRE: YA Fiction

I twisted the yarn bracelet tied around my wrist. It was a birthday present from my best friend Amy, but I wasn't thinking about that or how I still hadn't gotten her a gift for her birthday that was coming up. I had plenty on my mind.

What was I doing here? I had never been called to the principal's office before. Never. I looked around. I had passed through this hall bunches of times before on my way to guidance. But those times I was in a hurry - frantic about getting back to class so I don't miss too many notes or, heaven forbid, a pop quiz. I never lingered in the hall; never even looked around me. Now there was no hurry.

I studied the framed poster opposite the bench. It was one of those "inspirational" quotes aimed at getting you to work harder to succeed in life. I already work crazy hard. And I can't imagine anyone reading that poster and thinking, "Wow, I never thought about that before. Now I'll start studying and volunteering and some day I'll be President of the United States. And I'll owe it all to that poster."

I shifted my weight on the hard bench. I'm pretty sure having a wooden bench with no padding is supposed to make the student feel even more uncomfortable with her visit. I didn't need any help with that. But apparently help was on the way.


  1. I wasn't hooked, yet I would read on just a bit more to see if any action was going to blast in.

    The voice was ordinary. . . it didn't really stand out--to me, anyway.

    This is just my opinion, though. Other people may love it.

    Good luck.


  2. I think this has promise, but I agree that the voice kind of drags at times. I know that sucks as a criticism because there's nothing specific to point out. Sorry.

    I like making fun of those posters though. It does a good job of setting up what kind of school the MC goes to, and how she sees the world.

  3. Ok, looking through your post...

    First, apparently she was thinking about her best friend, because this is in first person. Remember that everything is from her point of view.

    Honestly, descriptions of a boring room, even if the point is to show that the room is boring, is, in itself... well, boring. You know what I mean? Maybe start later.

    The last thing is the voice, as other said. I agree that the posters commentary was the only real sign of a unique character point of view that we saw. Maybe cut the section, but go and re-read, trying to see what about those couple sentences brings out the character. Then maybe you can apply that in your edits. :)

  4. I would read on. I didn't like the opening paragraph, but the commentary on the inspirational poster got me. I suddenly love your character even though she's a little neurotic.

  5. This didn't hook me because nothing happened and I wonder if this is the place to start. Since she doesn't know why she's there, there's really nothing to show the reader, so perhaps start a bit later, perhaps when the principal actually calls her into the office, because then we'll get a reason why, which is more likely to hook a reader than someone sitting and waiting.

    In the first parg. you tell us she isn't thinking about her bracelet or her friend's birthday, but she obviously is if she's mentioning them, so you may want to rework that if you keep it.

  6. I'd skip the description of walking down the hall, etc. and begin with the MC looking at the dumb inspirational poster. THen she could give us clues that she's never been to the principal's office. I'd like her to hint about WHY she's there.

    I'd take out the entire second paragraph. You're just convincing us she's a studious, type A, good kid who never gets introuble. You do a better job of showing us that in the inspirational poster section where she says "I already work crazy hard."

    I wonder if the good stuff starts after the 250-word mark...

  7. LOVE IT! This is great, and I think you've the voice and tone for this genre. It is soooo what a young person would feel if they were like one of those kids that never gets called to the office. I really am hooked. Nice writing!

  8. The first-person narrator isn't being employed correctly again. E.g. if the narrator isn't thinking about her friend Amy then she wouldn't be talking about her in the opening lines. But that's only the first hiccup here. Bigger and more problematic is the lack of any tension. Instead of moving us forward in time, pushing the narrative forward, allowing us to see and feel the stakes, the narrator is constantly taking us backward and/or diverting us from story. Eg. passed trip by the principal's office; the poster; gifts for a friend. Finally, it would've been handy to know the narrator was sitting on a hard bench four paragraphs before we learn it. Specific placement in time and space is always nice when it comes at the start.