Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #30

TITLE: Soul Therapy
GENRE: YA Fiction w/Fantasy Twist

Jessica slumped in her seat. Her mother gripped the wheel like talons, eyes set dead ahead, unwavering. Jessica had grown to know that look so well. Her mother was lost in thoughts of her father and their world that shattered seemingly overnight. It felt like a lifetime when the divorce papers were filed, but really, he was just gone one day. Her mother never really could get over that.

“Okay, well, I’m going to go inside, alright?” Other students flooded into the high school off of busses. At least her mother worked so early in the morning that Jessica could get a ride. “Mom?” Jessica ran her fingertips over her mother’s knuckles.

Her mother gave her the sideways glance and that sweet smile, used to cover up any ill feelings. “Have fun.” Her eyes shifted back, out the windshield, unregistering.

“I’ll try.” Jessica snatched up her bag and got out of the car. She closed the door with a bit too much force. She looked over the high school, Westbury High. She only had one year left, but she was ready for it to be over. It felt long overdue, with as much drama that had been building. She couldn’t really stand to be home anymore, with her mother acting as a shell.

Jessica drifted through the hallways. She felt like a ghost, except for the small shadow she cast. But she was used to that feeling. She had a knack for making friends with all the wrong people.


  1. Nice job of making me feel for Jessica. I want to pat her on the head and give her a hug.

    The opening paragraph and fourth paragraph feel a bit clunky to me. Consider reworking for flow.

  2. I have some suggestions for cleaning up the first paragraph - I hope they don't come across as nitpicky. You used the word 'really' in two consecutive sentences, when I'm not sure you need it at all. Her mother gripping the wheel 'like talons' makes it sound like the steering wheel is the talon, when I think you mean her hands. I also was confused about her dad 'just gone one day.' Did you mean he just up and left one day, or he'd only been gone a single day? I think it's the former, but I had to reread a couple times to get it.

    I do really like your last sentence, about feeling like a ghost except for the shadow she cast, and having a knack for making friends with all the right people. This is where I began to feel connected to the character. Your beginning right now feels a bit more like backstory.

  3. I agree with Nicole. I really felt for the character. Also, like Shannon, "like talons" sounded like the steering wheel was the talon. I also got a bit bogged down with backstory. The last line is what drew me back into the feel of it.

    Thanks for sharing. I do believe you gave a good start here.

  4. Love paragraphs 2 and 3, with the MC touching her mother's knuckles and her mother sort of operating on autopilot.
    There is a lot I like in paragraph 1 too. You convey the feelings of the atmosphere post-divorce beautifully. I do feel, though, that this paragraph could be tightened up. The images in the first few sentences are wonderful, but, like others i had a problem with "like talons" applying to the wrong noun. Maybe you don't even need "like talons"? I love the line about Jessica knowing that look so well. The expression "shattered overnight" seems a little cliched and I'm not sure you even need it. I also don't think you need the last line in the paragraph. It's clear from what's come before that mom hasn't gotten over it.
    I live the line at the end about making friends with the wrong people. That is enticing. Is this a new school for Jessica? I wasn't sure. I would live to see a little more jump into the action here--maybe the start of a conversation with someone? Or even observing specific students and overhearing conversation? Or something specific that the MC is actually doing.
    Just my 2 cents of course, and I would be interested in reading more!

  5. Whoops. I meant to say, I LOVE, not live, in my post above, but I couldn't figure out how to fix it from my phone.

  6. I agree with the others who say that the flow of the narrative is a bit odd. "It felt like a lifetime SINCE the divorce papers were filed", as an example, or "She couldn't really stand to be home anymore, with her mother acting as a shell." doesn't make much sense. "Acting like a shell of her old self." would make sense.

    I do like your last line though. I think it sums up her overall feelings and outlook!

  7. I think you could cut everything in the first paragraph after 'father'. The next sentence didn't make sense to me, and I think leaving a little bit of mystery as to what has happened with her father wouldn't hurt. Also, in the second-last paragraph, you start four out of five sentences in a row with 'She'. Perhaps try varying the structure of the sentences to avoid this. I also think you could cut 'high school' and just say 'She looked over Westbury High'. It's clear from what you've said already that they're outside a school.

    The last line is a good hook to read on.

  8. Good hook! Yes, agree that the first paragraph could be much shorter. I felt for both Jessica and her mother. Shortening the back story throughout would be good. I love the reference to her feeling as a ghost! And especially that last line:)

  9. I'll try not to repeat any of the comments made by others.

    The line with 'her mother gripped the wheel like talons' is missing hands after mother.

    I think there are a few words you can cut to tighten this some. Such as unwavering after 'eyes st dead ahead.' and unregistering after 'her eyes shifted back, out the windsheild'.

    You can cut 'the high school' portion of the next line because we already know she's at her high school from the students from the busses.
    'She looked over the high school, Westbury High'.

    'Jessica snatched up her bag and got out of the car.' Drop the 'up' and also 'of the car.'

    In many cases, words like up and down can be dropped because the reader will understand there's nowhere else to go. He stood up. Up can be dropped. He sat down. Down can be dropped.

    I would turn the page.

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. This opened a bit too heavily for others noted, the language was a bit loose ("It felt like a lifetime when the divorce papers were filed," "Her mother never really could get over that" sounding strangely unsympathetic, etc.) and it all felt so NEGATIVE (people feeling badly about other people feeling badly) that I wasn't quite motivated to read on, not without a glimmer of something positive (even just a hint of something Jessica likes amidst the everything else that she's not so thrilled about)...