TITLE: The Recruited
GENRE: YA thriller
The clank of her cell door opening startled Naomi upright. “Williams, you have a visitor,” the guard said.
Naomi stared blankly at her, legs dangling off the edge of her bunk. “What?”
“You have a visitor,” the guard repeated. “There’s a man here to see you.”
“But it’s not my parents’ day to visit, and my dad—”
“You. Have. A. Visitor.” By now there was no masking the irritation in her voice. “Get your a** up and come with me.”
Picking herself up off the bed, Naomi attempted to straighten her wrinkled uniform before her hands were cuffed. A small calendar on the wall, checked off boxes counting down the time on her sentence, read September 4th, 2025. The guard held her by an elbow as she escorted Naomi through a maze of hallways to the small visiting area at the front of the facility.
The room was about half full with girls and their families or friends. They talked in low voices, their volume occasionally flaring up on a shout or a curse. Laughter was all but unheard of here.
It took Naomi two seconds to identify the man who’d come to see her. He sat by himself at a table in the farthest corner of the room. His posture was perfect, better than hers, even though her mother had been snapping at her to sit up straight for years. As the guard led her up to the table she noticed his expensive-looking suit and his neat, close-cropped hair.
I like this. It's not super intense, but I don't think every opening scene has to be. I'm curious about who has come to visit and why she's in prison. My only suggestion is to change the sentence: Picking herself up off the bed... to something more simple: Naomi rolled off the bed. I would read on.ReplyDelete
I like this. I would read on. I'm a little confused about the date on the calendar, though - is today Sept 4 2025, or is that when she gets out of jail? Maybe change to "...counting down the time on her sentence, said today was September 4 2025" or "counting down the time on her sentence all the way to September 4 2025"? Just a thought.ReplyDelete
I like your writing style a lot, and think this is a great beginning. My only suggestion is to maybe have her say something other than "What?" at the beginning. It might have just been me, but it sort of pulled me out of the story. Just a thought. Great job.ReplyDelete
This is an intriguing start but I wouldn’t keep reading. I don’t feel connected to the mc, so I don’t care what happens to her. Add internalization and Naomi’s voice will come alive and give us a sense of her personality.ReplyDelete
"Picking herself up off the bed, Naomi attempted to straighten her wrinkled uniform before her hands were cuffed." I don’t know why, but Naomi’s pov felt distant with the sentence. Maybe use some internalization to show why it’s important for her to straighten her uniform, and show us her failing to achieve her goal. How does she attempt to straighten it? With an iron? (be specific)
You’ve got a good start here, but it can be made a lot stronger. Right now, it’s just description and action. Study the first page of your favorite YA thriller and see how the author balance internationalization, description, and action.
A YA that doesn't start in a school gets my attention, even better that she's in prison. You have a good writing style and voice. My only nit pick is for the last paragraph. I don't think this is the page to talk about her posture, but mentioning the visitor's said a lot about him.ReplyDelete
I agree with the comment asking for more internalization. Other than that, this is a good start. Prison is definitely not overdone in the YA market. :)ReplyDelete
I like this because I am left wondering who this visitor is and why NAomi is in jail.ReplyDelete
I was also thrown by the date. It seemed a "cheat," a way to set the scene in a too-direct way. I would cut this and either put in later or give us a sense of the future without directly stating it.
I like the comment about her mother snapping at her for years. Makes me wonder what her relationship to the MC is.
I like this a lot. I thought it was an original place to start. I agree that the date situation is unclear. Are we in the future? If we are, can it still be a thriller?ReplyDelete
But I like the fact that there is no 'attitude' or snarkiness or opinions. You give just enough information to make this interesting. I would keep reading.
This is a very engaging opening; I'd definitely read on to see who Naomi's mysterious visitor is. The mention of the year 2025 made me immediately think 'sci-fi/dystopian' instead of fantasy, but maybe that's just me. Also, Naomi's character feels a bit bland--I didn't get a good sense of who she is, but I'm sure you'll fill in the character details after the 250. Good job and good luck!ReplyDelete
This caught my attention, mainly because a prison opening is not something I've seen in many YA stories. I'll be interested to know what got her there.ReplyDelete
I'm interested in learning why Naomi is in jail. I think it might be stronger if you didn't use the "what" and the guard repeating his line. I think it might be better to dive into the story without any repeating in the opening lines. The visitor sounds intriguing. Nice work.ReplyDelete
I would continue reading. I like the fact that Naomi doesn't seem to have attitude issues. The lack of snarkiness made her more likeable to me, even though she's in prison. I thought your descriptions were just right, not too much, not too little. Good job.ReplyDelete
This opening makes me curious enough to read on. You found a nice balance between setting the scene and introducing some intrigue.ReplyDelete
I completely agree with Kathy that the MC's lack of sarcasm/snark made her more endearing to me than the cookie-cutter MC we usually get who is world-weary and full of bile. It is so refreshing to get a real person in YA instead of that cliche. The repeated line from the guard after her "what?" slows the pace which is something you don't want at the very beginning. Maybe a "who?" instead of a "what?" would take care of that. There might be more opportunity for description than just a "maze of hallways" - perhaps some visceral detail of what she sees/hears/smells as she makes her way to the visiting area. I think I like the way you establish this in 2025 by using the calendar - I would much rather know from the start where and when we are than have you go through contortions to try and bring it in using another way. So, I had no problem with that - plus a marked-off calendar on the wall seems absolutely authentic to me so unlike others I thought it was good. The way you set up the visitor as perhaps a threat, perhaps an ominous presence - or maybe just a key to her release - is handled very well. Whoever he is, we know we are about to get a story set in motion by what he has to say. So, I would go on reading and I think you did a very nice job.ReplyDelete
I appreciate that you've immediately conveyed the MC's name, and the setting. I like that the setting creates a mystery--why is she in a cell? And I like that there's another mystery--who's this visitor? Great job of sucking me in, and I'd read more.ReplyDelete
Great job, winning entry writer!ReplyDelete
I liked this overall, especially where you chose to start the story which makes a huge difference. I do agree with a few of the nitpicks. I don't think the repeated line from the guard is needed, you can take that part out and leave in "There's a man here to see you." Ditto for the "You.HAve.A. Visitor." line which I get, but is a third time repeat while you could just have the guard tell her to get her ass up and you get the irritation.
I'm intrigued! I think YA thrillers seem to be getting a lot of attention, so congrats.