Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #8

TITLE: Tourist Trade
GENRE: Young Adult

I suspect growing up next to Bonaventure cemetery had something to do with the reason my dreams were filled with all this agony.

It only got worse as I grew up.

Same story almost every time I fell asleep, only the characters changed.

I had the sneaking suspicion I was going to have to take my brother James up on his offer for a referral for therapy, or at the very least, some serious drugs to help me get past what I saw when I closed my eyes.

I stared reluctantly at my bed as my eyes grew heavy. Jane, my sister snored quietly in the bed across from mine, peacefully enjoying her sleep. Envy crept in to the periphery of my thoughts as I watched her dreaming.

It had gotten to the point where I hated the idea of going to sleep. A self-professed night-owl, I came up with creative ways to keep myself awake. Finished more homework, listened to every song available in my library, read as much fiction as I could get my hands on.

I may as well get something out of this bargain, I rationalized, as I looked over at the alarm clock and noted the single digits of the new day.

I feared she’d bring the same, and as I collapsed onto my pillow, shuttered my eyes closed, I waited for her come like some twisted voyeur staring at something I knew wasn’t any good for me.

And I hated her for it.


  1. Well, the opening sentence hooked me with the cemetary mention and the agonizing dreams, but then i was all excited to learn more about said agony and you don't really give us anything.
    I was also a bit confused by:

    I feared she'd bring the same.

    Is the she referring to the new day? Why not "it would" instead so we don't confuse the pronoun with her sleeping sister

  2. I agree with Sarah that the opening had some real pull. I'm going to rehash what I've seen said all over the blogosphere about dreams and characters waking from/in the middle of/about to dream in opening scenes: to make this work, you need to show why your story is different than the rest right away. Whatever she's afraid of when she sleeps, it needs to be there in the opening with a hint to what this character has special going on that will interest the reader.

    It's kind of an uphill battle with the dream thing, but I think it can work as long as you feature your twist front and center. Good luck!

  3. I like the idea of this and the opening line, but then the narrative loses me because it's all summary and backstory. I don't feel like I'm in a story--I feel like I'm being told things. I'd rather move from the opening line to a good "show" of the character finding ways to put off sleeping and have all this angsting developed in context.

    I was also a little iffy about the "as I grew up" and old brother prescription reference because both of those made me think this was an adult narrator.

    I'm also confused about everything from "I may as well get something...." What bargain? Who is she? Is that the new day, as assumed above, the sister, or is the narrator dreaming about the "she"?

  4. I get the feeling we're just about to find out who "she" is, and that's the trouble with these 250-word openers. I have the same problem, where the "incident" occurs just after those first 250. I think if you took out the line about the brother (which kind of didn't fit the rest of the voice to me, for some reason), you could buy yourself enough room to get more info in. Just a thought! The writing is strong and I'm intrigued enough to read more :)

  5. I like the first line, but then I'm not really getting anything else interesting until the sixth paragraph when she talks about hating the idea of sleep. You might cut or move the stuff in between so we can get to the juicy stuff.

    Although, I do love the line: Envy crept in to the periphery of my thoughts as I watched her dreaming.

  6. There's too much backstory and not enough action. Not enough is happening.

  7. I agree with the other comments that not enough is happening in this beginning to hook me. I think you could cut out a lot of this to get into the dream faster. I was also confused by whether 'she' meant the new day or the sister.

  8. The first line doesn't really it for me. I like the idea of her growing up next to a cemetery, but as soon as I hit the word 'dreams' pulled me out a bit.

    I agree with the rest of the comments about back story and not enough action. Especially since it seems like we're going into a dream.

    "I waited for her come like some twisted voyeur"

    Here, I think you need a 'to' between her and come. But really I think the whole thing would shine more if reworked.

  9. I like it. It's setting the stage for something creepy, which I like, and I like the voice.

    I'd read on.

  10. I was a bit intrigued until the end when I got a whole bunch of pronouns thrown at me - "she" I hated "her", etc and I also thought you were talking about a new day and then I wondered "she"?? It needs reworking.

  11. Potential here-I feel like were on the edge of something good. You be-labor the hate of sleep. Just get to it. Good luck! Shelley

  12. There's a lack of flow and rhythm in this sample and too much tell. Also, the tension isn't strong enough for what you're trying to convey. There's probably a good story in here, but it'll need some work. Good luck with this.

  13. Living beside a cemetery would be creepy and I wanted the creepiness but it didn't materialize - yet. In agreement w/the others about cutting the mention of the brother & drugs/therapy and giving us an example of her scary dreams. Show us enough to hook us and scare us.
    I understand the limitation of the 250 words. Would want to read more.

  14. I like the voice and the creepy vibe I am getting. I made a similar comment on another entry about why I think waking up from a dream can often be the perfect way to start (its number 35 if you want to see what I said - it was long) - so I am ok with that. I would read on.

  15. Nothing happens here. Your MC is chatting with the reader, catching her up. Perhaps put her in a situation where something is happening and don't have her talk to the reader.

  16. I think the issue here is that this is all back story, and doesn't pull the reader in as well as current action would.

  17. Who is it (her) that the MC is referring to? I never quite got that.

    I wanted to see some of the characters that would show up if the MC did go to sleep, show which ones the MC is most afraid of.

    I think a few more specific details would help a lot here. Perhaps a different start—show us this character wide awake, going through life and then he/she remembers a detail from a previous dream and tries not to think about it. Would build up the dread of bedtime a bit better, plus we would already be in the world and care a bit more about the fact that the MC is obviously being hurt by these dreams as they affect his/her awake life.