Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #48

TITLE: Desiderium
GENRE: YA Dystopian

If I had a dollar for every time I found myself wishing for more time, I might only have to work two jobs. Maybe then I'd actually have time for a life. But I can't want more time. I can't want anything. Not if I don't want to end up in jail.

The light on my bracelet is already flashing yellow. My gaze fixates on the steel band clinging to my wrist and I have to remind myself to take a deep breath.

“Hey, Rhiley.” My heart leaps out of my chest as a girl from the high school waves across the hall. I furtively nudge my jacket over the bracelet to conceal the yellow light.

Forcing a cheery reply, I plaster a smile to my face and scrutinize her expression. Detecting no sign of recognition, I quicken my steps. When I'm within a few steps of the classroom I sneak a peek at my wrist and heave a sigh of relief when I find no sign of the desire I almost let myself feel.

I hurry through the door and slide into an empty seat in the back. Allowing myself a quick glance at the clock, I pull out my textbook to cram in a few extra seconds of studying. Calculus is the one class I don’t need to spend a lot of time studying for, which is a lifesaver. It’s the difference between going to bed at 2:00 or staying up until 3:00.


  1. Okay, I'm having a tough time with this one, mainly because I think reading more would fill in a couple of the blanks that appeared. As it was, I had to read it twice to 'get it'. Desire of any kind seems to be forbidden in this society, and the bracelets somehow detect it and send off warnings.

    The interaction with the girl at the high school threw me. She waves, and calls his name, but shows no sign of recognition? Or shows no sign of recognition of him wanting something?

    I like the concept here very much, I think it's got a lot of potential.

  2. I like this. However, when I read the comment above I realized that I imagined the MC to be female, while the commenter above thinks your MC is male. Perhaps you could have a less neutral name, or some other telling feature to indicate the gender? Otherwise one of us is going to be in for a shock later in the story. I think the story sounds interesting, though.

  3. Rhiley is definitely female. This is made obvious in page 2, but I can try to give some indication on page 1 if necessary.

  4. Caveat: I am tired of so many YA Dystopian novels glutting the market.
    However, thus said, nice beginning. Despite my prejudice, you pique my interest. I want to read more.

    Note: I don't think you need "furtively" because "nudge" is a strong verb. Similar with "quick": a glance IS quick.

    Good luck.

  5. Yeah, I completely missed the boat on this one. I can't tell if desire is forbidden, or if the MC is a fugitive of some kind. The words 'detect no sign of recognition' lead me to believe the latter, but I'm really not sure.

    Also, I can't tell if the girl is going to be a character later. I'd assume no because there's no name attached, but if she is, then I'd reveal her identity right here.

    The sentence about desire in the fourth paragraph seems telling, but the writing is a bit convoluted and I'm still not sure what you're getting at.

    I enjoy dystopians, but I'd say the first two paragraphs of this sample are your strongest work. The rest leaves me feeling a little lost.

  6. Questions! I love having questions when I read -- it makes you want to keep going. A threat of jail? A flashing bracelet? Why why? I want to keep reading

  7. I'm a little confused. 250 is so hard, sometimes, to get a sense, especially if you have to build a world! I don't know how anyone does it.

    I really like the first sentence, it gives us a sense that the MC's life is difficult.

    I guess a sense of place would make it more compelling to me. But I do see a really interesting premise here.

  8. The first few lines are great, but I get lost with the entrance of the other student. At first I though the MC is hailing a student named Rhiley. :/

    Also, the beginning has a great ticking time bomb feel to it so going into such a normal situation like class at the end of this section was a bit of a let down. I'd like to see the tension of this scene carried a bit more before we hit 'normal'.

  9. I also assumed that Rhiley was male - however, a cover and blurb would have cleared that up for me if I were purchasing this.

  10. The excerpt was a bit confusing, mainly because I think you're hinting at too many things at one time, and I don't see a clear connection between them. Also, confused on the fact that the girl addressed the MC by name, but then the MC could find no sign of recognition on her face. Unless she was calling someone else with the same name, which would be stretching it.
    I'm interested in that yellow light and would read on to see what it means

  11. You have an interesting concept with a bracelet that detects illegal desires, but I'm afraid that's the only intriguing thing I see in this excerpt. I don't think the writing, setting, or voice sets yours apart from other YA dystopian.

  12. I also thought the main character was male. My reason is the third paragraph where you describe the main character's heart leaping out of her chest when the girl waves. I thought from this description that she was a love interest.

    I don't think your opening line is your strongest. Maybe starting with "I want more time. But I can't want anything. Not if I don't want to end up in jail."

    You say "a girl from the high school." Should you say "my high school?" Confused here.

    Also, you say "forcing a cheery reply" by we do not get this dialogue and I wondered what Rhiley said.

    I like the concept of this story. Keep going and good luck with it :)

  13. Was very confused from start to finish which is not the strongest way to begin your story if you want to make the reader carry on. I had no idea who was make or female and this pet peeve is exacerbated by the common flavor of the month of the desire that everyone seems to have to give their chracters the most unusual and gener-hiding names possible. I wish I could be more positive but if I have to read the beginnign twice just to figure out what is going on - well, I won't. I would go on to another book.

  14. I think the opening is good. Yes, 250 is tough especially without a pitch or query b/c as a reader I don't know where this is going. It sounds like an interesting concept and I'd keep reading more just to see what happens. Good luck!

  15. I have always been a fan of dystopian, and I am intrigued by what you have here. I'm surprised no one mentioned this before, but I like the idea of using that first paragraph later and going directly to the yellow light. I'd keep reading. Good luck!

  16. This is an interesting opening, a little hard to get my head around, but most spec fic is like that for the first page.

    The bracelets detect her emotion, right, and she's not allowed to let people see her feeling desire? Or something? Interesting idea.

    I don't understand what purpose the girl waving served. It doesn't seem to have had any relevance, and I didn't understand what all the 'no recognition' thing was about.

    All in all, very good. :)

  17. I got a little bit lost in the middle too, but the opening lines hooked me in and I think you're really close to nailing the voice here. You could tighten in a few parts to help flow e.g. 'Allowing myself...' could become simply 'I glance at...' Overall nice work!

  18. Count me in as another one who didn't understand why someone would hail Rhiley then show no recognition. The words 'the high school' also sounded strange given Rhiley is apparently at the school. I think you could cut 'from the high school'.

    Apart from that, I was intrigued and wanted to read on to find out more about this world and why the bracelet is monitoring desires.

  19. I appreciate that you let us know one of the issues with this world within the first paragraph.

    In the fourth paragraph the mention of "Detecting no sign of recognition" confused me initially--this seemingly contradicts the girl's knowing her, but I understand you're talking about whether she saw the bracelet.

    Finally, in the last paragraph, I thought you could lose the last two sentences of it, that they didn't add anything.