Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #44

GENRE: YA Paranormal

It was supposed to be the best weekend of my life. I had it all planned out. Dying? That wasn’t part of the plan.

It started out just as I expected, at least. I stepped off the bus and out into the most beautiful afternoon. I closed my eyes and inhaled the sweet scent of spring, savoring every detail, before moseying across the suburban road. Finally home.

I admired the yellow and pink blooms framing the path to my front door. I’d helped plant the flowers years ago, back when those colors had been my favorites. A lot of things had changed since kindergarten.

My thoughts drifted from the plans of the coming weekend to memories of my previous birthdays. I sifted through the images of candle-laden cakes and the smiling faces surrounding them, focusing on one in particular. His absence in the more-recent mental snapshots made my heart ache.

As I got closer to the front door, Mom’s voice pulled me from my reminiscence. She was in there, toiling away to remove the imaginary layer of dirt she swore coated everything no matter how recently she’d cleaned it. A smile crept up my lips as I gripped the door handle. It was almost time for my ball and this Cinderella had handed in her broom for the weekend.

“Oh!” I cried as I stumbled forward. Strong arms caught me. Intending to apologize for my uncommon clumsiness, I looked up at the stranger holding me and inhaled sharply. “Do I…know you?”


  1. Wow! This one pulled me in. The descriptions really set the mood, without overdoing it, and I was caught off guard at the last paragraph, as was your mc. It reminds me of The Lovely Bones. Chilling, but excellent.

  2. You show very well! I especially love the mom description. You don't say she's OCD, but it's certainly shown. :)

    Good job and thanks for sharing!

  3. The descriptions are fantastic. and that first line has me wondering what happened.

    Good job.

  4. Very good voice here, and that first paragraph has me curious to know what's going to happen.

    I don't really see anything to critique here, except maybe that you don't need to have backstory info so early in the novel. The details about planting the flowers in kindergarten and her previous birthdays might be better if they come later. However, the birthday memories does let the reader know that the character's birthday is that weekend. So you could probably leave that part in there.

    Good luck!

  5. Great opening. You caught me right away. The glimpse of her ordinary world before she's swept away is intriguing. I want to read more.

  6. Passive verbs are dragging this down. Use "I catch" instead of "I caught". Bring us into the action.

  7. Very intriguing first para, but then you switch back to the set-up and memories and kind of lose me a bit, because now I just want to know how she died. Also, not to be a downer, but there have been an awful lot of books lately that start with the MC dying, although if I'd read your query and knew how this was different from the others, then that'd probably be fine. Good luck!

  8. I thought you could start with her walking through the door and stumbling, or if you want a little intro, keep the parg. about her remembering past birthdays. Most of what comes before that seemed unnecessary – the beautiful afternoon you don’t describe, the details of spring that she savors but doesn’t share with the reader. The flowers up the walkway that don’t merit naming. It seems like filler that doesn’t have any bearing on the story.

    I also got the feeling that the real story begins after she dies. If that’s the case, starting with her stumbling may even be too early. Perhaps consider starting at the moment she realizes she’s dead.

  9. I agree with those that think you could pare back the back story a little bit. I don't particularly care that the flowers were planted in Kindergarten (although written well). I'm more anxious to get to her weekend plans and find out how she died (or almost died??).

    Also, I do really like the Cinderella/dust mention and the one sentence about "his" absence. It makes me wonder if the "strong arms" are from this missing guy. I would read on purely to find out about this guy, and then more to find out about the death.

  10. I would say one of the worst places to have the main character's thoughts meander aimlessly would be the beginning of the story. It doesn't give us anything to latch onto and leaves readers more likely to skim or even close the book altogether.

  11. You got me with the dying part in the first sentence. The part with it being a beautiful, sunny day slowed it down and seemed too ordinary. The third and fourth paragraphs don't seem necessary. I would picture the MC being so excited that she would sprint home. That would give this momentum. The last two paragraphs are excellent.

    Your entry is one of the best ones in terms of grabbing my attention and making me want more.