Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #33

GENRE: YA Sci-Fi (Multi-Cultural)

Yesterday? High school student. Today? Terrorist. That has to be some kind of record.

The chill in the sterile interrogation room had goose bumps standing up on her arms, but Kaia Davis didn't notice. She didn't notice how much her leg was bouncing underneath the plain steel table, either, or that she was pulling on her necklace so hard it was carving a raw red line into the back of her neck.

No matter how many times Kaia replayed it in her head, she couldn't pin down what had gone wrong. She had checked and re-checked the current "banned items" list while she packed – she'd even checked it again before she left for any last minute additions. True, no adult had gone over her luggage (Please. The Johnsons wouldn't have helped me even if I'd asked), but Kaia knew she had been extra thorough.

There hadn't been any problems when she got on the plane in New York. Nothing strange in flight, either. When she had arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport, she had been happy just to be somewhere new. Sure, it was only an airport, but it was a new airport, where the tubes connecting the terminals were made entirely of glass, and the voices on the intercoms weren't speaking English by way of Long Island.

When she had entered the security checkpoint, she hadn't been the slightest bit nervous. Why should she have been? The most offensive thing in her bag was acne medicine.


  1. Throughout the first paragraph, I found myself wondering why I was noticing these elements if Kaia wasn't noticing them. Are these details about her appearance or the temperature important if she's not paying attention to them? It seems that she's far more preoccupied about the conflict - why in the world she's been detained - than her surroundings, and I wanted to focus on that question as well.

    It seemed that you could just as easily begin with "No matter how many times Kaia replayed it in her head, she couldn't pin down what had gone wrong." This is the real problem she's having, and as a reader I'm more interested in it.

    The last line made me laugh, and the first line is also intriguing. I definitely feel the voice in these lines.

    Good luck! :)

  2. I agree with the previous comment. But your writing is really smooth and I kind of love it. :) I'd definitely keep reading.

  3. I'm intrigued in large part by the genre -- YA Sci-Fi Multicultural? Yes, please.

    I really liked the first line, because it made me want to see where you were going (it was also funny and had the right teenage voice). I got a bit caught up in your first paragraph with some wording and places where I would tighten (ie: I kicked into editor-mode), but once I got to paragraph two, I breezed through. I agree with the previous comment that you could ditch the first graph and start a bit stronger.

    But I would definitely want to read on! I really want to know more about the multicultural and sci-fi aspects.

  4. (to Authoress: if we're not supposed to comment in any way on our own items, please delete this message)

    Thanks for the input, everyone - you've already been incredibly helpful! :-)

    Honestly, I've always felt that second paragraph was awkward, too. I was just afraid if I integrated the "setting" details any further in I'd be accused of vague-ity (which is a lot like "vagueness" - except, of course, that it's not actually a word).

    Thanks again for the constructive criticism and kind words - they are both greatly appreciated! :-)

  5. Great hook right off the start. I love the little hints like the line about the Johnsons. It conveys a lot of information in just a few words. I've got an immediate sense of the conflict, and her age.

    Like WriteInPencil, I'm wondering why if she isn't noticing these things (the necklace, or the leg bouncing). You might want to consider reworking that second sentence to make it a bit more active. Show the leg bouncing and the necklace pull.

    I'm not seeing the Sci-Fi part just yet, but maybe that will come soon. I would certainly keep reading.

  6. Nice voice! As the others said, the one bit needs tweaking - but you've got me intrigued. I'd read on.

  7. I loved what you did with this. The timing flows from her in the interrogation room back to what happened that landed her there. It's well done and with just a hint of humor. I like that. I'd read on.

  8. I like your first paragraph but agree that it could use some minor editing. I would keep reading.

  9. I agree that the first paragraph could be cut. If she doesn't notice something, then we shouldn't notice it either.

    I LOVED the last line. I'd definitely read on:)

  10. The first line blew my head. I love your premise. Yes, the first para can be tightened and maybe you can do away with the parentheses. But other than that, it flowed brilliantly and has me hooked with the last line.

  11. First line doesn't work for me, since the rest of it doesn't bear it out. (As she's not a terrorist, nor do we know that anyone actuallythinks she is.)

    And by the end of this page we still don't know what's going on, so I think some tightening is in order.

    But I'd keep reading. (Love the mention of the Johnsons, which is a big indication that she doesn't have any sort of normal home life.)

  12. I would read on to see where this goes. Sitting in an interrogation room at an airport would be scary even as an adult, especially since you mentioned this was multicultural, I wonder if you'll explore racial profiling, which is intriguing for YA.

    For the first line, the way it is phrased makes it read that the chill in the room had goosebumps rather than the girl in the room. I would watch for the was + -ing verbs; usually you can just use the verbe (bounced, pulled etc) for stronger writing. But I do agree with the other commenter that she sure is noticing a lot while simultaneously NOT noticing! I get the intent of what you mean, but it might be worth reworking the whole opening paragraph. You want to make a lasting impression.

  13. Two things:
    The first line in italcs reads like it should be in a query rather than a opening line of a book.
    The first paragraph gives us a list of things she doesn't notice. It's not first person, so you might get away with it, but maybe not so many?
    Other than that--I really like it and would love to read on to find out why she's being detained. :)

  14. Seems everyone concurs on that first paragraph - including me (as mentioned above).

    Seems I should have gone with my gut instinct instead of overthinking it. What can I say? Openings make me nervous ;-)

    I definitely appreciate all the outside input. Thanks a bunch - the edits have already been made :-)

  15. GREAT opening. That will suck the reader right in. THANK YOU for saying the mc's name in the first couple of paragraphs. People forget how important this is. But it make you relate right away.

    GREAT LINE: "...and the voices on the intercoms weren't speaking English by way of Long Island."

    Also a great line: "Why should she have been? The most offensive thing in her bag was acne medicine."

    This has a lot of promise. I'm excited for it!


  16. Wow - thanks so much for the kind words! :-)