Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #26

GENRE: YA contemporary

Ryan’s music is too loud—not exactly a problem, except that it’s louder than mine. I jack up my iPod. My tiny speakers can’t drown out the noise.

Especially since they aren’t just competing with music, but laughter, splashing, screams. Fun. That’s what’s on the other side of the fence.

My phone buzzes and skitters across the swing’s wide seat. Amber’s name flashes on the screen, followed almost immediately by Max’s. Their texts are identical. She’s headed to his house, his parents are headed out, I can come if I want.

Half an invitation from each that doesn’t add up to a whole.

Can’t make it, I text. Family movie night.

Not a complete lie. The living room windows flicker with light from a DVD.

I give up the fight with the music and shut mine off. Despite the dark sky, the air is hot.

I could join my parents, but instead I stay outside, between my house and Ryan’s, pushing myself in the swing, digging my bare toes into the grass, listening to the party I’m definitely not invited to.

Until the soccer ball lands in my lap. I clutch it and blink into the darkness, trying to see if anyone’s there to claim it. A head pops over the back fence, followed by a body, which lands with a two-footed thump on my side.

“Nice one, man,” Ryan yells back over the fence, then turns and jogs toward me.

I could throw the ball back, but I wait for him to come to me.


  1. Is your title non-existent and therefore undecided? Or is the title 'undecided'? Just wondering...
    I like what you've got so far. I was a little confused as to why two invites don't make a whole, but I get that you're trying to communicate the narrator doesn't feel fully welcomed to the party. I wonder if the narrator is male or female? Perhaps a male because Ryan says: man...? I would like to have a name I can start to relate to the character more. Thanks!

  2. I'm having a little trouble imagining where everyone is in this...I think it's the sentence "Ryan yells back over the fence" trippng me up.

    Could he/she (and yeah, I agree w/ Vanessa that it's a problem we don't know yet) hear Ryan yelling ON THE OTHER SIDE of the fence and then see him leaning over the gate to talk to him/her?

  3. This was very clean and easy to read, and you’ve left us with the MC’s possible entry into a new crowd of kids who will take her life in a new direction, maybe? That’s what I’m thinking will happen.

    Parg 2 could be part of parg 1. I didn’t get how Amber and Max’s invitations were half invitations that didn’t add up to a whole. They seemed like legitimate invitations to me, like they really wanted her to come, and I don’t get why she felt otherwise and didn’t accept. I also didn’t get why it couldn’t be hot out just because it’s dark. It’s probably happened a hundred times in her life – being hot out after dark—unless she lives in Alaska or someplace where it’s cold all the time. ‘Until the soccer ball falls in my lap.’ – ‘Until” says that when that happened, she was immediately invited to the party. Perhaps replace ‘until’ with ‘then.’

    Overall, this had a sort of pitiful feel to it, like she was sitting there alone in the dark, just hoping and hoping the people at the party would see her and invite her over. I don’t know if that’s what you were going for or not but, to me, it made the MC seem a bit pathetic. Maybe give her a reason for sitting there on that swing. Why is she out there alone instead of inside with her family?

  4. I thought your scene was set nicely, and I did assume it was a girl. What I took from the invitations was that she didn't want to be a third wheel - but maybe you meant something else.

    Also, when he jumps the fence does he see her? Or is he blindly looking for the ball? This is most likely spelled out in your next sentence!

    I would keep reading. Nice job and good luck!

  5. LOVE the voice. Needs some tweaking - you don't want to be too sparse.
    This will capture YA readers' attention.

  6. I would definitely keep reading. The MC's plight of feeling like s/he doesn't belong was instantly sympathetic to me. I also liked that your first 250 words ended by showing the MC has some edge. I foresee some drama between Ryan, who has definitely not invited him/her to the party, and the MC.

    Also, I thought your writing was polished and the line "half an invitation from each that doesn't add up to a whole" really showed how the MC feels like a third wheel. I would love to read more.

  7. I like this. The voice is good, writing is polished. MC is sympathetic, likable. She doesn't want to lie to her friends, but doesn't want to be third wheel either. I want to read more.

  8. My suggestion would be to move the line "listening to a party I'm definitely not invited to" up to the top somewhere, because that's what she (assuming female) is really feeling here, isn't it? She's not invited to party next door, and she's half-invited to her friend's (crystal clear to me). I would suggest clarifying, in the opening lines, where she is (in the swing outside).
    I like the writing overall, and I am left curious about what will happen with Ryan. :) Maybe slip in a word or two that gives an indication of their relationship? Ryan, who used to be my friend, or Ryan, who doesn't know I exist (?)
    Just my 2 cents of course.

  9. Does the title Undecided refer to the main character's sex, because I can't tell if it's a guy or girl. Perhaps that comes right after the end of this selection, but I'd say it's still a bit too long to wait as it'll be on a second page at least and will likely cause confusion for readers.

    Also, the paragraph with the text messages is confusing because I'm not sure whose house she's going to: Ryan's or Max's.

    Otherwise, it's a nice opening, but there are a couple of things to iron out.