Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #28

TITLE: Stairs to the Past

Jason twisted the doorknob to his new room. It was stuck.

He’d told Mom and Dad not to get such an old house. Things in an old house were so….old. They just didn’t work right. He put the box he was carrying down and tried with both hands. Still stuck. But it opened just a few minutes ago.

“Wait a minute,” he said, stepping back. “The handle turns. Why won’t it open?” He tried again, growling at the door. It was getting late. He was tired and hungry and he didn’t need this. He stopped and stepped back again. That door wasn’t stuck. It was locked. But it had just been open. What was going on? He stood looking up and down the long hall, a question in his eyes. Counting doors, he snorted. It wasn’t the right door. His was the fourth door on the left. This was the third. Unbelievable. Back home they only had four doors in the entire apartment. Here, he hadn’t even tried to count all the doors. Back home. I guess this is home now, he thought, picking up the box and moving down the hall to his new room.

Why was that room locked? he wondered for just a moment, but he forgot about it as he surveyed his room. The room was about fifteen feet square, easily three times the size of his half of the bedroom he used to share with his younger brother, Tyler. A large bay window filled one wall.


  1. I really like the premise here--very House of Leaves for the teen set! But I think you could still polish this opening a little more. I'd start by dropping as many of the rhetorical questions as you possibly can (esp in the dialogue...teens are very savvy and know that no one would really say this to themselves out loud).

  2. I agree with robyn that some of this could be trimmed, but overall I like the setup (when YA doesn't start in a school, I sit up and listen). Creepy houses with self-locking doors? I'd read on to see what's going on.

  3. I agree with the talking out loud to his self part, maybe he can say it 'in his head.' But, I do like the idea of the book. I could see the long cooridor of doors and it made me want to know just what was behind the locked door. Good job!

  4. This starts immediately with the mystery, so that was nice. I know right away what I’m getting. The writing though, doesn’t do much for you. It doesn’t bring any atmosphere, mood, or emotion to the piece. There’s no voice. It’s basically just explanation – this happened, then this, then this. Perhaps rewrite it with an eye to bringing those elements into the piece.

    Also, I am assuming the door is stuck, because later you say the knob turns, but as written in the opening parg, the doorknob is stuck. ‘It’ refers to the doorknob. Then you say the ‘handle’ turns, but a handle isn’t a knob, and handles seldom turn. You pull or push on a handle, maybe press or lift.

    You might consider whether the info on the old house is relevant or not, along with the description of his new room. Are they things that matter? Does the reader have to know those things. And if they do, do they have to know them now?

    And the title kind of gives the mystery away. I am assuming there are stairs behind the stuck door that will take your MC to the past.

  5. You've got some great input from others. My only add is that I'd like to get a better sense of who your MC is. I feel like the focus is on the door, which obviously is key to the mystery, but who is your MC? what is their motivation?

    You've got a great concept here - I'm curious to see what happens next! Best of luck with this.

  6. I like the premise. Agree with the others that the rhetorical questions might be bit overdone.
    One other nitpick: "a question in his eyes" jumps out of the MC's POV. Someone else would see a question in his eyes. He wouldn't.
    I do want to find out why the other room is locked. :)

  7. This is a whole lot of repetition. It's repeating the same information over and over again. But when the information repeats, it does so with slightly different phrasing. The repeated information, however, still comes across as irritating. When the information is continually repeated, that's all the reader can focus on, and not on the plot. Plus that repetition keeps the text from flowing well as it's all just repeated over and over again.

    See what I mean? ;)

    Simplify the descriptions and trust that your readers will get the idea the first time. The pacing will improve and we'll get to the main action of the story a lot sooner.