Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #1

TITLE: Reborn
GENRE: YA fantasy

The end of Lily’s world started with a pursuit of knowledge.

Sneaking into her mother’s bedroom wore her nerves to their breaking point. Her heart hammered in her chest and her hands shook as she neared the dresser. Quickly glancing over her shoulder reassured her that she was alone. She grabbed the photo frame, but her fingers, slick with sweat, lost their grip, and it plummeted to the ground. For a moment, she stared at its descent, her dreams shattering under the sudden roar filling her ears. Then she dove and caught the glass, reveling in the cold press of the metal casing against her hands.The world righted again while she waited for her hummingbird’s pulse to slow.

A soft rustle broke through her trance. Jerking to her feet, frame in hand, Lily hid behind the door. Darkness cloaked the hallway, but she couldn’t spot her mother. She ran back to her room and closed the door right as her knees gave way. Relief crashed into her in waves, coaxing a goofy grin to her face. She gazed at her prize until a voice startled her.


As usual, her mother sounded exhausted. If Lily opened the door, her mother’s forced smile would highlight the deep circles beneath her eyes. Eyes which would also flash the moment she noticed that Lily had stolen her wedding photo.


  1. I don't know if I'm hooked, but I definitely am curious as to why having the picture is such a big deal to Lily.

    I get confused about where she is after she hides behind the door. Since it's fantasy I'm wonder if she walks through the door...

    One last thing, the first line seems so formal and for some reason I thought you meant the actual world, not just the MC's world.

  2. I really liked this. It started with mystery and a bit of suspense, which continued throughout the piece. There was constant movement, and there was always a reason to read on. You strung me along from sentence to sentence.

    Only two suggestions -- perhaps cut the first line. It basically tells us what's to come, hinting at why she's stealing the photo. If you leave it as a mystery, then there's more of a reason to read on, and you'll be starting with your actual story, rather than explaining it.

    And it could be even stronger if you showed a bit more, instead of telling it. For instance, intead of starting with 'Sneaking' into the room,(telling) show her actually sneaking in so the reader figures it out for themelves through her actions. Instead of 'Ressured her she was alone' let us see what she sees, show us she's alone.

    It's good as is, but showing it could take it to another level. Very nicely done!

  3. I don't care for the first line.

    You have a great deal of tension in this excerpt, which is great! It can be enhanced even more if you show, like Barbara mentioned.

    I would read on.

  4. Thanks for your input. That's such a good point about 'sneaking.' And I wasn't sure if the first line would mesh well with rest; I guess I have my answer now!

  5. I didn't care for the first line, either. I was intrigued by the 'The end of Lily's world started by', then I expected something momentous, not 'with a pursuit of knowledge'.
    Also, 'coaxing a goofy grin' - not unless she can see herself grinning.
    I would like to know why the photo's so important, though.

  6. I agree with the excising of the first line. "Sneaking into her mother's bedroom wore Lily's nerves to their breaking point." is much more immediate, if less mysterious (mystery being important since we're dealing with fantasy here).

    Though I drawn in by the tension in the piece, I'm also turned off by the almost cliche phrasings you sometimes have ("darkness cloaked), "relief crashed into her in waves", and the flashing eyes). I'd suggest cutting those phrasings or twisting them into something more startling.

  7. The first two sentences are telling. If you combine them, the scene gets even stronger. Its an intriguing beginning and I'd read more.

  8. I'm with everyone regarding the first line. The other thing that jumped out was the formal language and then 'goofy grin.' To me that felt out of place.
    But good job and good luck! I liked it!! : )

  9. You need to use language more creatively--you have a hammering heart, flashing eyes, relief crashing in waves, all pretty standard stuff. How else can you tell us she's freaking out without using "hammering heart"?

    I really, really like the set up here--I'm completely intrigued by the fact that she's stolen her mother's wedding photo--but I might not keep reading because I feel like you should use more vivid, interesting language.

  10. Thanks again for all the advice! Seems like I need to watch out for the cliched descriptions. Will look through manuscript for those and telling phrases now.