Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #33

TITLE: Secrets in the Woods
GENRE: Young Adult

Bring on the straight jacket and padded room because I’ve completely lost my mind. There was no other explanation for why I was chasing mysterious lights into the woods behind my house at 2:30 in the morning. Seeing little flickering spots had to be part of a mental breakdown brought on by too many cans of Dr. Pepper and not enough sleep. Yet, I couldn’t forget that my best friend Melanie saw those same lights, so I kept going, even though I was certain I would kill myself running around in the dark.

That was all the time I had for coherent thought before my legs started burning from overuse and the need for oxygen made me gulp down the frigid night air. Mel and I had covered most of the gap between the back of my condo building and the woods already. Out my first floor bedroom window, along the narrow path between the condo complex and a rolling hill of blackberry bushes, then down through cramped trails loaded with thorns and no light, and finally out to the empty baseball fields below. Of course, Mel was up in front while I brought up the rear, but then Melanie was tall, athletic, and a member of the track team. My best quality was trying to be invisible, though I had limited success.

As I watched her run in strong fluid movements I realized all too painfully how inadequate I was - in every way.


  1. I like this, but I might make it more active, especially for a sense of urgency.

    Example - 'As I watch her run with strong fluid movements, I realize all too painfully how inadequate I am - in every way.'

    It's just my preference though, I'm sure others won't have the same issue. :)

  2. Similarly to the previous commenter: the long paragraphs right at the beginning don't reflect the same sort of urgency. You've got some good sentences. Break up the paragraphs, or else shorten them. This is interesting, though. I would definitely read on!

  3. I loved the beginning, but it seemed to lose momentum a bit as she reflected. I get the "inadequate" line though. Don't we all feel that way next to our best friend sometimes!

  4. I liked the voice.

    I agree the paragraphs could be broken up - nothing like that good old "Enter" key and a couple of well placed periods.

    Yes, I want to read more. I want to know what the flashing lights are all about, and I'd feel the same way running around in the dark.

    Good Luck!

  5. Agree on the spacing comments - the first line can stand as its own paragraph for better effect.

    It might help the pacing and interest of this piece to break up the distant narration in the second paragraph with action as it happens. Throw in some dialogue with Mel. You clearly have a vision for this scene, I think you need to share it through a more visial approach to gain a bit more traction here.

    Best of luck to you with your editing!

  6. The first paragraph interested me, but then the second just seemed to slow way down. I lost the urgency, it felt sort of flat. I'd probably not read on.

    But thank you so much for sharing.

  7. I agree with a lot of the comments already made: love the first paragraph, kind of got dragged down in the second, and liked the sentiment in the last line.

    Breaking up the second paragraph (Not sure you need to tell us her whole path from her room to the woods... just the fact that they climbed out a window and went running out into the night is enough, I think), and toss around some dialogue with Mel will probably fix the pacing problem.

    I'm very intrigued, though. The voice in the first paragraph reminds me of myself a little bit, what with the Dr. Pepper love AND getting severely winded by running within 2.4 seconds :P So I already feel a kinship to her.

    I'd keep reading :)

  8. Love that opening line - but agree with others that you need to let your writing breathe - break up those blocky paragraphs - mix up your long sentences with some shorter ones and then I think you'll better be able to tell the story without getting all bogged down.

  9. I don't know what else to add that hasn't been said. I fell in love with the light-humored voice in the first paragraph, but you lost moment towards the end.

  10. I just felt like this was all tell and very little show. Your MC is telling us what she is doing, rather than doing it and taking us along for the ride.

  11. Sounds interesting. I do agree that breaking it down to smaller paragraphs will make it read better.

  12. I'm hooked and would like to read more.

  13. I am interested to hear more. I agree that there needs to be a greater sense of urgency, if that is what you are going for.

    I would also consider a change to the title. Secrets in the Woods does not seem like a great title for YA. Hope you get picked up, sounds like it would be interesting.

  14. Great voice, but this seems like a first draft/character exploration exercise to me.

    Now that you know that your MC feels inadequate, how can you show us this? How does she run around the building in the dark?

    And then I think the word inadequate is quite a singular choice. What exactly does that mean? We know it means the running, but what else does it mean for your MC? Why would she think she is so inadequate? There's not enough on this first page for us to get a sense of what will keep us reading.

    I think you should dig deeper. And maybe start us before this moment and show us that inadequacy in the light before she's running around in the dark.