Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #3

GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

As far as Selina knew, she was the only seventeen-year-old with her own burial plot. And once a year, she looked forward to nothing so much as visiting her grave.

5:44am. Just one more minute.

The glowing red digits of her alarm clock stared back at her from the insides of her closed eyelids.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Music blared from the alarm, scattering the silence.

She flung aside her comforter and leapt to the floor. She’d already dressed the night before, so all she had to do was slip into her sneakers.

The stairs creaked as she tiptoed downstairs. She darted through the living room, and quietly closed the front door behind herself. But before Selina could get to her bike, her older sister appeared from around her car.

“What’re you doing up so early? School doesn’t start for another hour and a half,” Jess said.

Only fifteen minutes until sunrise.

“Yeah, I know. I just wanted to stop at the bakery first, for some cookies or cupcakes or something for homeroom.”

“Really? Well, I can drive you if you want. Since it’s your birthday,” Jess said, jingling the car keys.

“Actually, I want to visit my mother on the way so I’ll just ride my bike.” Selina stared at her hands and twisted her hoodie strings around her finger. She hadn’t wanted to play the dead mother card, not with Jess.

“We can stop at the cemetery on the way there,” Jess offered.

I should already be there.


  1. The first line is great, a strong opening, but then it jumps right into a cliché. Even though it's not the standard "woke up, went to school" opening, there's enough similarities there that whatever momentum you got from the first paragraph crashes.

    Open strong, yes, but stay strong. It's that loss of momentum that will lose readers.

  2. Excellent first line. At first I was thinking that your MC was terminally ill, but by the end I thought that she only had a plot because her dad bought a family plot when her mother died. Great way to introduce a character with a dead mother. As Secret Agent says, it would be even stronger if you keep the first line and skip to her being at the cemetery without the waking up and traveling to scene.

  3. I agree, that opening is killer (pardon the pun). I also like the ticking clock mixed in. However, something in the phrasing is throwing me - too many "she"s. The "behind herself" is also distracting. You might play up the tension - if she's sneaking around she should jump out of her skin if she comes across something she didn't expect - like her sister. More startled perhaps?

  4. Sounds like more of a query to me. The alarm clock helps us jump into the action, but it falls flat but I can't quite put my finger on it. I would completely start fresh. Sometimes, revising a fundamental flaw only digs a bigger hole (maybe it's just me).

  5. I love all the hints and character traits you put in here: Your MC keeps to a timed schedule, she knows before waking exactly what time it is. She knows exactly how many minutes she has until sunrise. Her older sister doesn't share the same mother as her. She feels guilty that she isn't dead like her mother. (She thinks she "should already be there" with her mother in the cemetery).

    I do wonder If your narrative voice would be stronger in first person because I feel like your italicized parts carry the most character.

    In any case, great job!

  6. wow, loved the opening. very strong. I would certainly keep reading. I would keep reading on.

  7. Selina says "my mother" to Jess, which I am going to take as meaning they have different mothers. I have a feeling that this has nothing to do with a family burial plot. I'd keep reading.

  8. I'm confused by several things, which may just be me but did put me off somewhat. First she talks about her own burial plot, then she's going to visit her mother's grave? She calls Jess her sister, yet they don't have the same mother? It may seem slightly heavy-handed to call her 'my adopted/half/step-sister' but it would leave the reader less lost. And when I first read 'The glowing red digits of her alarm clock stared back at her from the insides of her closed eyelids.' I took it literally, I thought it was some kind of sci-fi thing like Feed but I don't think that's what you meant.

    I also think having someone waking up on the morning of their birthday is cliched, however the rest of it isn't so I guess it's ok.

    Despite all this nitpicking I am intrigued, and I'd read on to see where this is going.

  9. I liked this, especially the scattered silence line. The older sister/my mother had me wondering, but nothing that I wouldn't keep reading to find out. I'd like to know more about her relationship with Jess pretty quickly.
    Nice job!