Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #1

TITLE: Game Changer
GENRE: Contemporary Upper YA, boy-focused

Jenn and her freckled shoulders had me s***-faced drunk on the smell of cocoa butter and the curves of her green bikini. Somehow, Ethan had convinced her to come to our annual Labor Day at the river, even though she’d only stopped hating me two weeks back. My brother worked his charm in almost supernatural ways. Damn, I owed him.

Our last big hurrah before school. The cap of another summer spent in the armpit town of Milton, where spontaneous combustion felt like a real possibility. Especially for Ethan and me, working in Dad’s shop through the whole thing. My best friend, Langdon, spent the season up to his a** in lemonade and air conditioning, tutoring Mandarin Chinese and Russian to kids two towns over. He had no clue what a summer in coveralls and exhaust fumes felt like. That kind of ball-sweat-hot made so much as a toe dipped in the river water almost better than an orgasm. Jenn added to the mix, though, quite possibly pushed it over the edge of almost. Maybe the reality of her was why I forgot the fireworks we’d snuck over state lines for. Not the best use of fake IDs and money, unless the fact that it was senior year was considered: the last Labor Day before Lang and I left for California to become more than just two additions to the Grover-High-Graduates-Stuck-in-Milton-for-Life Club.


  1. Love the voice, but this beginning didn't hook me--I'd love to get more action here, rather than hearing all the back story. I feel like if you gave us a better sense of the scene before giving us all the details about the characters, it would grab me a lot more. Good luck!

  2. The voice is great and I do get a feel for the I-want-to-get-out-of-the-small-town boy. But I think the second paragraph goes on too much of a tangent for a first page.

  3. Love the realistic teen-boy voice, but I think you've started in the wrong place. I need to know who this boy is before I hear all the details of his life. The toe-dipping orgasm is great, and that would be a good place to start. Then you could unfold the girl and the crappy summer job in a more organic way.

  4. Great voice but don't fall so in love with hearing it that you lose the structure of the story - especially at the beginning. There is a lot of info in the opening that could be doled out later. I don't need to know about Langdon yet, for example. In fact there are 3 relationships set up - MC and the girl, MC and his brother, MC and his armpit town. All are intriguing but we don't need all at once because it undermines each of their potential. So, keep the voice but rien it in enough to still hit the story points without falling into a stream of consciousness.

  5. I agree with everyone else - really great voice.

    But I also agree on the other points. Nothing happens here because your MC just talks. If he's there at the river with this girl he's crazy about, why not stay there? SHow us what's happening at that moment and get all that other stuff in later. At this point, I just don't care. I want to know what's happening now. I want to see if this girl still hates him or is softening towards him. I want to see him in action. What does he do to try and win her over? Don't kill your first page with back story.

  6. Like everyone else, I think you did a really great job of bringing your MC's voice to life. You made him *feel* like a young adult, which is harder than I think most people think it is.

    I also have to agree with what Happy said. Your first 250 feels a little crowded. There's Jenn, Ethan, and Langdon. Three separate characters, which means, of course, three separate relationships. There's a lot of information packed into these 250, which is great on one hand because, well, I can't turn down free information. On the other hand... it's still *a lot* of information. You might want to consider cutting Ethan entirely, since he doesn't seem to be as relevant currently, although that depends on when he makes his first actual appearance. If he shows up right after the cut, you should probably keep the reference :p

    Great first line, great imagery, great voice! Best of luck!

  7. There was a lot of good stuff in this excerpt, but what captured my imagination the most was this amazingly hot girl he's after, and I don't think he'd be so quick to move on to Langdon. I can remember being his age, and I feel like he'd spend a lot more time talking about her. I can understand not immediately revealing what he did to tick her off, though. I just think his thoughts would linger with her, and she's the strongest part of the excerpt, anyway.
    The first line is awesome. I think you've got a lot of interesting tangents in play here, but I do agree: spread them out a little more.

  8. You did an excellent job on the "boy" voice because this read VERY boy to me. Kudos!

    Aside from what others pointed out, this line threw me:

    "Jenn and her freckled shoulders had me s***-faced drunk on the smell of cocoa butter and the curves of her green bikini."

    It sounds as though the bikini has curves and not Jenn. :P It is probably just me though! Much luck!

  9. Love the voice - authentically male - but you are doing a lot of telling rather than showing. I love all the info and all of what is being told - but perhaps just sprinkle it through more action to ground us in your world first.

  10. At first I thought the MC was sitting next to Jenn sniffing her shoulder. What is the MC doing in this scene?

    The second paragraph is an info dump. These details need to be sprinkled in. Visually, the size of the paragraph is daunting. That does not entice the reader to continue.

    The part about Langdon doesn't seem necessary here. Could it be pushed later? That would keep this part to Jenn, Ethan, and the MC. Unless you have Langdon and the MC doing something in the first page. Have Langdon throwing him a soda or beer and Jenn looking over at him?

    I had to read the "ball-sweat-hot" sentence a few times. Could you simplify it to make it flow?

    Why did Jenn hate him before? Was is something specific that he did?

    When there are multiple characters in a scene, it seems weird for there not to be dialogue. Does it start soon after this?

    I think that you have something interesting here, it just needs to be tighter.

  11. I like the voice as well, though it gets a bit clunky in parts. I think editing out excess filler words and reworking some sentences will certainly help with that.

    I'm with the others regarding the info-heavy 2nd paragraph. You could break it up by showing some of what he's talking about, mainly in regards to the town. Make us feel the summer heat, taste the lemonade, smell the exhaust fumes AS you show how all these things affect your viewpoint character. He's not crazy about his armpit town, but I'm guessing it's due to more than ball-sweat-heat and air that stinks of gas fumes. Show me. Bring out your character more, not just his voice, and I'll be hooked. :)

  12. The first thing I noticed, and that threw me out of the story, was the phrasing of "the curves of her green bikini." The way it is now, you're saying the bikini has curves, not Jenn. It's a small thing, but in the first two lines of the story, it might send up a red flag to an agent about sentence structure.

    Besides that, I loved the voice, and I agree with the others about the tangent nature of the second paragraph.

  13. OK, I'm hooked. You've nailed the teenage-boy voice here, and I love the descriptions. I'd read more to see where this is going.