Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #18

GENRE: YA Mystery/Light Sci-fi

I’ll remember you.

I couldn’t turn my head in any direction without seeing those three words. They were taped to the outside of my locker as I elbowed it shut and littered the ground as I stepped over them. They even hung on a shiny vinyl banner across the hall.

The letters were bold white against a midnight blue sky, sprinkled with sugary stars. The silhouette of an embracing couple completed the promise that every senior would remember this year’s prom for the rest of his or her life.

At least that’s what I assumed. Maybe I was reading too much in those three words, but I had my reasons for being the teensiest bit excited about this prom, for wanting it to be the most perfect day of my life.

I skirted past a fellow senior who had crumpled up some of the prom fliers from the ground and was chucking them down the hall like snowballs. Before I reached the end of the hall, I felt the unmistakable smack of a snowball hitting the back of my head. Nice.

I bent over and picked up the crumpled paper. Scrunching it tighter in my hands, I turned to glare at Spence Tilby. Rumor had it he wasn’t going to graduate with our class, and his normally immature behavior had lately migrated to just plain ridiculous. Last week he somehow turned on the sprinklers on in the middle of lunch, ruining my PB and J, along with my favorite pair of ballet flats.


  1. This is well-written, and I find the MC's voice quite likeable, but I'm not sure you're starting in the right place. Many YA open in schools/classrooms, and many have a bully or two to deal with. Is there a different conflict you could start with besides her tension with Spence? I love the title for your story, but I'm not seeing anything in this sample that supports it or suggests light sci-fi.

  2. I think this opening paints a very vivid picture. "I'll remember you" carries with it inherent bitter-sweet romance. I agree that a prom is not something new, but the way it's described seems quite beautiful to me. I'd definitely read on, for sure, especially for more descriptions like "sugary stars".

  3. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 16, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    This is a nice start. Being a mystery with sci-fi elements I would keep reading to see if something more intriguing happens soon.

  4. I liked that at first I thought something sinister was happening--like a threatening note, but then they're just prom fliers. If that was intentional, I think you could play up the contrast a bit--if that fits the tone of your story. The last two paragraphs have some repetition and could be pared down. Every word counts in an opening, and one simple line about crumpled fliers is all you need. I'm guessing the guy mentioned at the end is crucial to the story; maybe you can work this in with a conversation to get some dialogue in? Just a thought. Best of luck!

  5. I thought this was nicely written, and the words, 'I'll remember you' can be taken several ways which works well for a mystery.

    I think that last parg doesn't work for you. Until that point, you're telling the story and doing it well, and then you go into explanation for the reader. Don't explain. Show us he's a jerk through action and dialogue.

  6. Despite having some difficulty connecting with this, I think it has potential. The first two sentences gave me an impression that something bad had happened--kind of like Stephsco said--only when I found out otherwise, I was confused and felt a bit disappointed. It took me until the end of the excerpt to feel grounded again.

    I felt like your hook was buried in the fourth para--how she's putting a lot of hope into this prom, perhaps too much hope--and personally I would have liked to see that hook come in earlier.

  7. Your writing is right up my alley. :) I do agree that this is a bit slow for the opening, the first few paragraphs at least, and if you tighten those it'll rocket forward more easily. Perhaps you could show some of these thoughts and details through action and conversation with a friend, to break up the telling. I would definitely keep reading.

  8. You have a nice YA voice, but this is falling a bit flat for me. I’m just not drawn in by the prom fliers, and this opening scene at the locker is very familiar. It also seems too early to introduce the antagonist/potential love interest., and I wondered how, if he turned on the sprinklers, he didn’t ruin more than her ballet flats and PB& J, and why he wasn’t suspended. Unfortunately, I’m not hooked.