Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #49

GENRE: Light Sci-Fi

I hated this part.

The bell rang exactly four minutes and forty-eight seconds ago. Which meant I had twelve seconds to get through the next door. I was a hundred yards away, the hall was too crowded for me to run like a normal person, and with AP calculus, I had little hope someone would show up later than me to slip in behind.

Perfect attendance record, gone. Not that they’d give the boy they couldn’t see a certificate.

I skidded toward the door. Closed, of course. Mrs. Harper always closed the door, like she worried someone would want to spy on her lesson. Not likely. Except, well, for me.

Eighteen days without a missed class. Not bad, but nowhere near last spring’s forty-seven-day stretch—lots of art classes and two P.E.s. That’s what I got for challenging myself this semester … and drinking two cokes at lunch. I knew better than that.

I couldn’t pick up Mrs. Harper’s monotone through the thick walls, but stuck around anyway, hoping for a straggler. No luck.

Of course it was this hour I got stuck. The worst hour. The last hour before the seventeen I had to spend alone. Maybe I’d go out tonight. I peeked out the nearest window. It didn’t look like rain. Probably safe.

Probably wasn’t good enough. Getting caught in the rain meant bigger problems than my discomfort level. Like the body-shaped hole I created when I stood in it.

I checked my watch. Still time to make it to the library.


  1. This seems like false tension without enough stakes.

  2. Great premise! You might consider rearranging this sentence for impact: "Not that they’d give the boy they couldn’t see a certificate." Maybe like this:
    "Not that they'd give a certificate to a boy they couldn't see." Also, art classes seem like he'd be busted because of brushes etc. moving through the air. Love the description of the rain creating a body-shaped hole.

  3. I like the premise as well. I was confused by the 'worst hour' paragraph though. I didn't really get what was at stake.

  4. I like this premise. The voice is fun. I didn't understand a few things - the coke and the worst hour. Other than that, I'd like to read more. How did this person become invisible and what will happen next.

  5. Love the premise. The best line is, "Not that they'd give the boy they couldn't see a certificate." However, I do like the way Lanette rephrased it.

    Until that sentence, I wasn't drawn in. I wonder if you could find a way to make that sentence the first sentence.

    I would read more pages.

  6. I like your voice. A lot. I'm intrigued and would keep reading.

  7. I think I'd like the premise but wonder what makes it different from just a teenage invisible man?

    The second paragraph felt awkward to me- like maybe there was a tense issue "The bell rang versus the bell had rung" etc. The first sentence felt very immediate and present to me. Then the second paragraph came and it just felt muddled a bit in relationship to time and space.

    It had a strong voice though and I liked that.

    I'd read more.

  8. I loved this. I also understood the coke and the worst hour, or at least think I do. The coke was a bad idea because he had to pee and that's why he's running late, and the worst hour because it's the last class of the day, and considering no one can see him and he spends the rest of his time alone, it means losing the last bit of "people time" he has before the end of the day.

    Personally, I didn't have a problem with the stakes. I also am incredibly intrigued and would love to read more of this. It's a nice, light voice, but at the same time has that hint of tragic because this person is invisible and doesn't get to interact with people.

    I normally wouldn't pick up a YA, but I have to say if I found this book, I'd keep reading in a heartbeat.

  9. I like this! I like the voice. And I for one like the two cokes line...hello bathroom break! This seems like a great premise.

  10. YES.

    I would love to read more of this.

    I love your voice. I felt like I was stranded outside the classroom. I wondered about the two cokes and the rain, and that's what makes me want to read on.

    How desperately lonely to get stranded outside of that class.

    Good luck!

  11. I thought the idea behind this was really interesting. I was confused about the 17 hours the narrator has to spend alone, but I'm assuming that will be explained in good time.

    I would get rid of the first paragraph and start with the bell. (Also, the second sentence of your second paragraph is a fragment--I'd suggest combining it with your first sentence in that paragraph. Fragments can work--they're great in your third paragraph--but here, it seems unnecessarily dramatic.)

    One small issue with the logic of the second paragraph: if he has only 12 seconds to get to class, so does everyone else. The hallways would be practically deserted, not too crowded for him to run through. (Of course, I go to a relatively small high school, so it's possible that the hallways wouldn't be that empty, but still--he should be able to run.)

    Anyway, good job! I liked it and I think you did very well with writing a teenage voice.

  12. I like this. I know, having written in 1st, sometimes it takes a bit before the story starts rolling. I'm totally okay with that as long as the voice pulls me in, and this one does. Why is he invisible? Why would someone who no one can see still want to study AP Calculus? LOL...I think the voice is strong and with only 250's not always easy to convey the plot immediately.

    Strong writing too. Good job.

  13. i...i think i've seen this before. In a SA contest last year. I remember it because i enjoyed it then (and now) and because i was in that SA contest (and i'm in this one). Weird.
    I still enjoy it, so good job again!

  14. I loved the premise about a boy that is invisible, yet he continues to try and have a semi normal life. He seems to be smart for an invisible teen because he considers his circumstances and doesn’t push the limits ie… he doesn’t open the door to math because people would notice or how he won’t go out in the rain because again people would notice. That is a lot of reasoning for anyone, but we don’t see anything to show us he’s always using his brain like this.

    I think you could skip the first line. “I hate this part” it doesn’t tell us anything. The first paragraph would be a better starting point.

  15. I'd read more. Grabs my attention with just a bit of info and leaves me wanting more.

  16. I'm hooked. I guess my question is why isn't this YA since your protagonist seems to be a high school student, granted one that can't be seen. I feel like I've got a good sense of the character and what is going on.

  17. @Ted I'm guessing YA was inadvertently left off the genre.

    I got a bit stuck on how his perfect attendance could be ruined if no one could see him - they wouldn't know he is a student right? Or is it his own personal attendance record?

    So this guy is invisible and going to school, which is interesting. I would keep reading to see what the twist is - what caused him to be this way, what's the conflict etc.

  18. Too confusing, and I only got it because I've read some of this in another entry. think you could start with a lot more punch.

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  20. I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what's going on here.

    So this boy is trying to make it to class on time but can't open doors because he's invisible?

    On the plus side, I like how he has some goal in the beginning. If it's perfect attendance, it might not be very compelling, but to some kids hey, it just might be worth stressing over. :-)

    Good luck!

  21. I liked the voice of the MC and his rather unusual desire to keep besting his own records of attendance even if he will get no credit for it one way or another. It is intriguing enough to make me want to carry on. I would hope to learn more - fast - about whether this invisibility was an accident, an experiment or a plot. Also, does he wear clothes? People can presumably hear him. Unless, he is a ghost and not just an invisible boy. If he does not wear clothes, then standing out in the rain might be more dangerous than just leaving a mark on the ground - which sounds weird to me anyway. I've stood out in the rain and it never leaves a hole of any kind. But, enough here to spark my interest. I'd be anxious to read more.

  22. (continued) Duh! okay I get it, he creates a body-shaped silhouette like a cut out in the falling rain. My bad.

  23. I'd read on--which is what getting "hooked" means. So, yes, I'm confused-but I would read further. Nice voice and writing.

  24. I'm not sure what is the issue here. Does he want perfect attendance or just to get into a class so he wouldn't feel alone?

    I don't know why he thinks he's invisible either. Can he run faster than light and sound? Tell us this or show us here. I think you are saying something when you talk about his ability to slide in between rain drops, but it does not come through at all for me in this beginning.

  25. Don't be too disheartened by the Secret Agent's comments - she seems to have done a very quick read.

    I think it's clear that perfect attendance is mentioned as something the narrator can't have, so is obviously not a motive for attending class.

    Likewise, I disagree there has to be immediate explanation for *why* the narrator thinks he/she is invisible. I can accept that she/he just is.

    And the comment about running faster than light or sound just baffles me - there's no mention of that in the story; running faster than sound would make one noisy (sonic boom) but not invisible; running faster than light is impossible but, even if not, would not help if you wanted to sit in class, etc.

    Also, the idea of an ability to 'slide between rain drops' is not in the snippet - I got that you meant rain would show the outline of an invisible person (like Happy Dolphin wrote above). Perhaps your early mention of not being able to 'run like a normal person' created some confusion, spilling over to the idea of speed causing invisibility and a character sliding between rain?

    Anyway, I'm not a professional, so feel free to disregard my opinion, but I don't think the Secret Agent comments quite fit what is written.