Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #10

GENRE: YA (Recent Historical)

September 11th was a beautiful morning.

The humidity that made us sweat our way through the last days of vacation had finally broken. It was nice to wake up and not have to peel the sheets off your body.

The Labor Day weekend had come and gone and with it went all the tourists that invade us every summer. They had high-tailed it the eighty miles back to New York and everyone in town was glad to see the back of them. We had our little upstate corner of the world all to ourselves again.

It was a morning when you didn’t mind getting up early to go to school. Tuesdays were always better than Mondays anyway. The weekend funk was gone from your brain. I let the screen door slam behind me and hopped onto the grass from the porch.

The sky was a cartoon blue. I’m serious. It was the same color you see at the opening of The Simpsons. I wouldn’t have been surprised to look up and see a bright yellow sun with radiating spikes the way we used to draw it in kindergarten. The air hitting your face was clean and fresh; your body was clean and fresh from the shower; your mouth was minty. It was like a living, freaking postcard for a nice day.

A morning like that made me do things I only did when no one else was watching. Things like tilting my head back and breathing deeply till my lungs were filled to bursting.


  1. The writing is excellent. I loved the description ending with "living, freaking postcard for a nice day." One little bump -- maybe a planned device, but it didn't work for me -- is when you seem to talk to the reader with "you." Try switching it back to your mc's pov, maybe like this: "It was the kind of morning I actually didn't mind getting up early... The weekend funk was gone from my brain." The reader will identify with your mc, without being pulled in a different direction with "you."

  2. The writing is strong, but I'd like to see a little more action up front. I think the Simpsons reference is funny, but maybe don't drag it out quite so long? You could lose the line about the kindergarten sun, for example. I understand you're trying to juxtapose what a beautiful day it was with what's about to happen, but I think you've made that point and you could move on to more action. Just a thought. Great writing though!

  3. Hmmm I'm on the fence with this but I would keep reading. I'm curious what your spin on YA 9/11 entails, beyond just a teen experincing it.

    I would suggest reworking a few sentences to weed out was/were/had. Some I understand are necessary but so many of them makes the writing feel distanced, which I think you intend to a degree, but maybe not so much as to distance the reader.

    Like this: Tuesdays were always better than Mondays anyway.
    Why? Thinking of why might help make the sentence more dynamic.

    I liked this line about the cartoon blue sky: It was the same color you see at the opening of The Simpsons

    Good luck with your work!

  4. The descriptive writing here is good, but the whole scene feels a bit disjointed. You slip pov, and bounce from one description to the next, with nothing that really feels like it holds it together. It's a good setup for the something bad that's about to happen, but it needs more to draw the reader in. I think with a little tweaking, you'll have it.

    Good luck!

  5. I find the writing to be very strong and that alone would make me go on reading. The topic would also. I love the first line. I agree with skywriter about the you and your etc - that would be an easy fix and I would make it. The voice sounds authentic and potentially insightful. I like the fact that the audience - the reader - knows something the character does not. YOu start with a place of peace, and beauty and joy and that justaposition to the horror to follow is very effective. I want to read more for sure.

  6. I like the writing--it's good, nice voice, tight description. And obviously, I know where this is going, to an extent. My only problem with this is that knowing it's SEPT 11th is all the carries the tension in this opening. Everything else is very pretty and calm and mundane. I thought we were going to get something interesting when the narrator said he (she?) was going to do something he only does when no one's watching, but all he did was inhale.

    This might hold my attention better if there were less description about how perfect everything is and more stake... like hints about a trip to Manhattan or a parent working there or something else that ties us back to the upcoming disaster.

  7. The problem with only getting 250 words is it's hard to ground a reader with your setup before the inciting incident happens.

    I'll bet one of those visitors from NYC winds up in one of those towers, and that's what the story is about.

    Your descriptions were fun - I felt like I could see the sky, feel the grass between my toes, and feel the oppression of the heat of summer and too many visitors lifting.

    So, life is finally back to normal here just before the biggest blow to ever hit us as a people happens.

    I'd like to see more.

    Good Luck!

  8. Normally I'm not a stickler for the something huge must happen in the first 250 words thing. But because I already have a vague idea of where this is going, and because you've done a good job of setting up how mundane the day was, I was expecting to be punched in the gut by the end of this sample.

    I feel like by that last paragraph, something big should happen. Spotting a plane, hearing a crash, people screaming, something.

    Set-up is usually fine with me, but I was tense with anticipation from the first sentence. Get us there quicker. I kept waiting for the axe to fall and it never did.

    What you have is strong, though. I'd be interested to see where you take this.

  9. Your writing is beautiful and I like the voice and the set up. Unlike the other commenters, I didn't mind the MC talking to me. Usually, it's a no-no, but I think it works here.

  10. Good writing. Good set up. My only quibble was the You/I switch.
    I'd read more.

  11. Gorgeous writing and description. I agree with Lanette that I don't mind the MC talking to me. I would continue reading.

  12. Nothing wrong with this - but nothing happens and I don't have any compelling sense of the main character ... No reason for me to want to turn the page.

  13. Is there any sense of foreboding? Perhaps that begins at word 251. I am patient enough to stick with this though because it is September 11 and that sky was so blue and everything did seem so peaceful and calm and that's why it was so hard to fathom what was happening.

    I'd read more of this. I think you're setting up something here and it's definitely got me remembering back, and yes, I felt the same way that morning (West Coast though) because it was another life entirely.