Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #46

GENRE: YA Paranormal

Hiding underwater, that’s what my parents called it. But to me it wasn’t hiding at all, it was being free, like taking a deep breath. Sitting at the bottom of the pool with my eyes closed, I heard the muffled sounds of the pool party above me and I felt the children’s excitement; the water was overwhelmed with it.

Parties rarely took place during my Wednesday afternoon swimming lessons, but the YMCA pool wasn’t always available on weekends, especially during the summer months. My instructor, Valerie, had made sure to put me in the farthest lane over from them, and she’d still had to strain her voice to give me directions. I didn’t really care though. Just being in the water was enough of a reward for another week of being landlocked.

At the end of my lessons, Valerie always let me stay in the water a few extra minutes so I could float on my back or stay underwater until I ran out of breath. It was the best part of the class, and she’d given me even more time today, to compensate for the less-than-stellar lesson.

Listening to the party noise underwater wasn’t as comforting as the usual stillness, but it was enjoyable all the same.

When time was up, I put my hands on the edge of the pool to jump out of the water.

And then I felt it; panic and a struggle for breath… and soon after, silence going deeper in the water.


  1. I've read this somewhere before and seen the query so I know what the story is about. I really like the premise and still want to read more :)

    The opening does a good job of setting the scene and introducing the MC. You could get rid of some of the passive voice ex. Valerie put me in the farthest lane over from them but still strained her voice to give me directions.

    I really like your story and wish I could keep reading. Good luck!!

  2. I agree that this is a great beginning. My only suggestion is to maybe take out some of the sensory words and just show us what she senses. For example, maybe try something like "Sitting at the bottom of the pool with my eyes closed, I could feel the children's excitement from the pool party going on next to me." Or something like that. The fact that she can "feel" the excitement seems significant, so it would be fine to keep, but try eliminating the others. Great job!

  3. This is a really compelling premise, and the only things that really threw me off were the age of the main character and the final sentence.

    I don't know why, but the protagonist sounded much younger than a lot of the YA protagonists I've read. If she's 14 or 15, don't change a thing. Otherwise, it might be something to look into.

    Also, I get what happens in the last sentence, but I also think it could be written a little more clearly. Such as it stands now, I don't have a great idea what's going on. Maybe put it in first person: "I panicked, struggling to breathe . . ."

    Other than that, really nice job!

  4. I also wondered about the age since it sounds like she's taking private swim lessons. This makes me think pre-teen at the oldest. Are they really lessons or is Valerie her coach. That could easily pump her into a more standard YA range.

    Other than that, I like what you have.

  5. I also read the query for this somewhere lately. I'd suggest losing the initial "And" in the least sentence.

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  7. I loved this. You do a very nice job with imagery and setting up the scene of being underwater during the YMCA pool party. The only thing I still had a question about was what kind of swim lessons is she taking? (Is she on a swim team, an olympic swimmer? Since it's paranormal, is she some kind of mermaid hybrid or something crazy? Are her swim lessons more about hiding in plain sight?) Overall - great job, and I'd definitely keep reading!

  8. Hmm... I was with you all the way to the last two 'graphs. But maybe the next one would explain what was happening. The hazards of excerpts. I like the description, though! Good work! :)

  9. I really liked the opening paragraph but lost interest through the rest. The beginning immediately made me think of Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Am I showing my age? :) Therefore, I first thought of the MC as a boy.

    Is it necessary to the rest of the story to describe the pool party and the swim lessons?

    Also, I like the end of this excerpt but was a little confused. I imagined when she put her hands on the edge of the pool that her hands and head were out of the water already. Maybe not the edge of the pool but the wall of the pool?

    Keep going with this :)

  10. I love this! I think that you did a lot with only 250 words, and left with a great cliff hanger. I'd definitely read on.

  11. This is really, really good. I'm hooked, I love the premise, I'm in love with her love of the water -- brilliant!

    If there were problems with this, I haven't picked them up because I was swept along with the story -- woot! That's what you want to happen. :)

    Really well done.

  12. I like the contrast between the calmness under the water and the panicked struggle for breath at the end. I would like to see where your story goes.

  13. The opening paragraph does a great job of establishing the setting and sucking me in. But then not a lot happens until the last line. And I think you could condense the last 3 paragraphs into one.