Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #21

TITLE: A Waltz for a Stray Dog
GENRE: YA Contemporary

The sounds of whispers faded as I marched into the silence of the music wing. Lunch time was intermission from the gossips. The people in my school seemed to know more about the war over my ailing grand sire's fortune than me.

I locked myself into the music room. Something groaned when I put my red bean bun and thermos on the piano. A pair of legs stuck out from behind it. The boy was a rare specimen in this school. His hair was a bird's nest, there was a cut at the corner of his mouth, and his brows were trimmed. I've read from Wikipedia that trimmed brows was one of the unique features of bad boys in Japan.

But calling this creature a bad boy would be an insult to those punch throwing, profanity spewing individuals. He was more of a shaggy dog that just lost a fight. If he was more human than canine, I'd have kicked him out.

I knelt beside him and dabbed at his cut with an anti-bacterial wipe. He shifted away and whined.

“Don't get in a fight if you're afraid of pain.” I said. He mumbled something again, and pushed my hand away.

“I said I only need water. Man-woman.”

Man-woman? I didn't even have hairy legs or a mustache on my upper lip.


  1. I like this opening. I'm intrigued by her being a musician, the gossip about her family fortune, and her finding a beat up boy in the music room. All of this pulls me in.

    I love the line, "If he was more human than canine, I'd have kicked him out."

    I'm confused as to why the boy is a "rare specimen." Is it an all girl school? I like the way you tell us this school is in Japan with the wikipedia comment, but I think you should go further with something like, "but I'd never actually seen one," or something to personalize it more.

    I think you should change "into" to "in" in the first line of the 2nd paragraph and "from" to "on" in the last line of the same. Also, is it a music classroom or a practice room? It has the small feel of a practice room. You might want to clarify with something like, "I slipped into the first empty practice room and turned the lock." Or describe the cavernous music room and the sound of her footsteps as she walked to the piano if it's a big room. Just so we have a little more setting.

    Overall, I liked it and would want to keep reading to see how she responds to the insult. : )

  2. This is a good beginning. You show us quite a bit about the MC and the setting in a very natural way. I would keep reading.

  3. I'm intrigued about this being a school in Japan; this might account for some places I became tripped up (language issue):
    "grand sire's fortune" Is this like a grandfather? "grand sire" may be confusing to a teen reader, at least in the U.S., unless it was followed by a quick modifier to clarify this title.

    "red bean bun" is this a container or food?

    The dialogue and voice in this piece makes me think of a story that's paranormal or fantasy, especially considering the boy "creature."

  4. I really like this, but the dialogue threw me off. Was that intentional? I especially like the comparisons to the boy being a dog.

  5. I love the title!

    And I LOVE the line, "Don't get in a fight if you're afraid of pain."

    There were a few things I was confused about, but I think they could easily be fixed. Who is saying/thinking the last line? I believe it is your MC. You may want to put that line in italics to show it's her thought.

    Good luck!

  6. I agree with the above comments about tightening things here and there. But I like this. I liked the last line:) I'd read on.

  7. I was also confused with the genre. Some of your word choice made me think it was paranormal or fantasy, as well. I like the metaphors with being more human than canine, but this close to the start when we're still establishing the world it's a it's misleading.

    I do like the Japanese bits, with the read bean bun and the trimmed brows. And the man-woman comment at the end makes me wonder more what your MC is like.

  8. I'm a little confused by this..maybe too many questions all at once... her reaction to the boy, the man-woman comment, her grand sire? But there are lots of interesting bits that would keep me reading for a little longer.

  9. Confusing as heck, and sure doesn't seem contemporary ...

  10. I'm not sure about this one. Great description, but some of your word choice was off for me. If this is set in Japan, and I knew that in advance, then maybe, but as is, not sure I'd keep reading. It feels more like an adult voice to me. Good luck.

  11. I think I am more confused than intrigued, but this isn't my usual genre, so take this or leave it.

    I would cut "sounds of" in the first sentence, not needed. I think grandsire's should be one word.

    I didn't like that he/she put food and liquid on the piano. Even if it's just a cruddy school piano, a musician wouldn't do that.

    I didn't interpret this as a school in Japan. If we're in Japan, the MC wouldn't have to read wiki to know about the trimmed brows, right? Unless a recent transplant? But still, who looks that up, he'd get the info from other people if he was in Japan.

    Where'd he get the anti-bacterial wipe?

    From there, I just didn't connect with the conflicting boy/dog and man-woman comments.

    I did love the title! And I'd be curious enough to answer my questions that I'd read for a bit, but I'd need clarity very soon to go beyond that.

  12. This has potential. One thing that stuck out right away is that "ailing grand sire's fortune" does not sound like Contemporary. And the use of Wikipedia seems too lowbrow for the voice you use for your MC.

    I'm intrigued by this japanese boy. I'm interested to see where their relationship goes. I think you've got a good start here.