Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #44

TITLE: The Boyfriend Plague
GENRE: YA Contemporary

I squirmed on the wooden bench, trying to avoid getting poked by loose splinters. The room was too small and the irregular buzzing creeping over the lopsided swinging doors set my teeth on edge. Each burst sent a cloud of rusty orange scattering through my skull.

“Is this okay, Livvie?” Mel leaned over and pressed a slip of paper onto my knee.

I studied it for a moment, still trying to shake off the burning color my synesthesia had painted the world. “Yeah. It’s perfect.” I grinned at her, but my lips trembled so much I’m sure it was more a grimace.

“What about yours?” Mel turned to Hannah who had her paper crumpled in her fist.

She smoothed it against the taut fabric of her jeans. “It’s good. I don’t think Mom could tell she hadn’t signed it.”

Mel sighed and glanced down at her own scrap of paper. “At least they’re all different. And how close are they going to look?”

Hannah’s eyes roved the enclosed space, photographs curling on every wall. “It’s a business right? They want to make money. I bet they just ask for these things ‘cos they have to.”

“You’re probably right.” Mel stood up and folded her permission slip back into her pocket. “I wish they’d hurry up.”

“Me too.” I shifted again, butt numbing against the hard surface. After almost half an hour on the wrong side of the doors, the stinging scent of rubbing alcohol drifting across us, I wasn’t sure this was a good idea.


  1. This is great. I love the voice, and I have nothing to add.

  2. It's not 'high action', but I think it's a fantastic hook. These girls are doing something they know they shouldn't be, and that's compelling. And I agree with the voice comment ^_^

  3. I like the starting point - girls forging parent's signatures - but I'm a little confused. You have a whole lot of names and characters, a plot hatching (that isn't clear...forged slips seem simple, but the "they want to make money. I wish they'd hurry up" is baffling without context). Then you have a mysterious space - wooden bench, old curling photos, lopsided clear cues where they are. And finaly there's her synethesia...a really interesting and unusual piece that's just dropped into the mix. I think there's some great stuff here, but it's all too squished in...I'm too lost to want to keep reading, even though I think I like where it's going!
    Good luck! Dana (#41)

  4. I just feel... confused. I'm honestly not sure what's happening here. I don't feel grounded. I got that they forged their parents's signatures (though I will admit that I read previous comments to make sure I got that right). But the "make money" part of the dialogue threw me to the point that I was no longer sure where this interaction took place. My first guess was outside a principal's office, but now I'm not sure.

    So my suggestion is to focus a little less on all the plot points, and ground us more so we're oriented in the direction you want us to go.

    Good luck!

  5. i'm gonna guess- are they getting tattoos?

  6. I'm intrigued and want to find out what they're up to, so I would keep reading. A couple things through me off--
    "Each burst sent a cloud of rusty orange scattering through my brain." I'm not sure what the "burst" is--prior to that you talk about a buzzing; is burst referring to that? And if I knew what the burst was, then the "rusty orange scattering" might make sense.
    "...still trying to shake off the burning color my synesthesia had painted the world." I really don't know what this means, sorry.
    Otherwise, I like this!

  7. I'm going to go with tattoos as well!

    Not strong enough to really entice me to read on. It was well-written, but I wasn't necessarily grabbed.

  8. I would keep reading because I have no idea what is going to happen next. I do feel hooked but I wish I knew more about the story.
    I was confused by the line "... burnig color by synesthesia had painted the world."
    I think it is well written though and would definitely read on.

  9. I like it. The writing is dynamic, the voices are totally teen, and their situation is mysterious. I like the hints dropped about bursting colors and synesthesia. This entry drops us in the middle of an intriguing scene with realistic people, not overdone tropes.

  10. I think this works. I'm curious and would read on. I've heard of synesthesia, the condition where you can smell color or see music or scents have a visual, etc.

    I the curling photos made me wonder if they were going to model, nude or otherwise, but tatoos would be a good guess as well. Obviously something most moms wouldn't sign a permission slip for their under 18 daughters to do.

    I'm hooked.

  11. I'm not hooked yet, but this is only 250 words. I'd read more because I think as strong as the writing is it wouldn't take much more for me to get there.

    Good job!

  12. I think there is potential here because the voice is good.

    At first, I thought you were way over-describing things until I got to the synethesia sentence. The only reason it made sense to me then is because I'd recently read Ultraviolet, which has an amazing YA MC with synethesia.

    But I think you're going to have to figure out a way to express her condition without bogging up the writing with way over the top and confusing descriptions.

    Also, I felt like you were playing with false tension here- withholding important info just to make the reader read on.

    And because that made me feel confused and annoyed, I don't think I would.

  13. Love the voice. I'm intrigued too! Curious what comes next and how the title fits in.

  14. I like the descriptions in the opening, but I was confused by 'rusty orange'. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. You have 3 that I count, the MC, Mel, and Hanna all in the first 200 words. That was a little quick for me. I like characters to be introduced a little more slowly (maybe that's just me?).

    The descriptions are strong throughout, but I had a little trouble following the action. Synethesia is anesthesia? I agree with Dana, there's lots of good stuff, but it all comes so quick we never get grounded.

  15. I was also confused by the synesthesia part, but other than that I am intrigued and would keep reading.

  16. Great voice, simple opening. I think it's contemporary enough to draw in readers. Immediately I want to know what is going to happen and how this unfolds. Nice dialogue too.

  17. I want to like this so much, but I think a little more context is needed. This scene would probably fit great a few pages in, or within another chapter, but for a first page i need to know exactly why they are forging signatures and for her to give more context for the synesthesia. Not everyone knows what this is; even a line about her reflecting how weird it was to see words in color gives more context than just saying synesthesia.

    I know there's a delicate balance between infodump and building tension, but first pages should really lay out what's happening so readers can hook into the story. I feel like i'm waiting to get to what's really happening.

    Best of luck to you - I've seen this excerpt elsewhere on blogs and I'm sure you have a great story!

  18. Would like a bit more punch - seems to meander.

  19. I am sorry but this left me totally confused. I had no idea what was happening or who was who. The descriptions added to the confusion. I think there are the kernels of interesting characters here - perhaps a solution would be too just be more direct - this is who I am, this is who I'm with and this is what we are doing. I read it again, then again, and I was still lost. Sorry. Since others have had such positive reactions, I am sure the fault must be my own.

  20. I think I need to know that these girls aren't doing something super dangerous. A bit more of a hint would be good.

    If they are doing something dangerous, is that why Livvie's that nervous and scared? Why aren't the other girls that nervous or scared? Are they just making her do it?

    The first line could be much stronger. I'm totally distracted by the bench description. Tell me about Livvie.

  21. The writing is fine, but I was also confused about where exactly they were and what they were doing. I think you need a little clearer description or more specifics to really set the scene and identify where they are.