Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #12

TITLE: The Sidewalk's Regrets
GENRE: YA Contemporary

The notes swim on the page, blurring before my eyes. My bow stutters across the bridge and I wince at the piercing noise that squawks out as the E-string breaks.

“G**damn!” I want to throw the bow across the room, but I know better. I set it down on the table beside me instead. I glance at the clock. Four fifteen. Great. I got an hour in. Maybe a little more. That’s going to get this piece nailed. Not. Stupid Shostakovich. Whoever picked this to be the compulsory piece for the summer school auditions deserves a kick in the a**.

I place my violin on the table while I scrabble through the paper envelopes of strings I keep inside the case’s lining. I know I don’t have a spare E because I broke one last week too. In the same measure. There’s clearly something wrong with my technique in that section. I have to ask Mr. Dobson about that when I go to my lesson tomorrow. I’ll have to get a new E-string before then too. One hasn’t miraculously appeared, despite my wishes.

With a sigh, I pack my violin into its case, pausing to run a hand over the warm, golden wood before shutting the lid. It’s like locking away my best friend. It is locking away my best friend. God knows I spend more time with my instrument than I do with anyone else.


  1. It wasn't until the last paragraph that I felt drawn in by this story. I like the way the main character's thoughts are described and it's very clear what's going on.
    Even though this doesn't give a sense of where the story is going, there's enough of a small hook with the guitar string to keep me reading for a few more paragraphs at least.

  2. An interesting take on a teen musician. I think you did well to portray her personality without outright saying: she's a musician. Not quite sure I connect the title with the music, but this is only a short bit, after all :)

  3. I agree with the first commenter that I didn't feel drawn in until the last paragraph. I think this character is well drawn, but you need to be careful, especially in the beginning, that her problems are relatable. For instance, in the third paragraph you almost lost me because the loss of an E string, while troublesome to a musician, just doesn't bother me.

    However, frustration with a hobby, feeling torn between your life and your interests, or feeling forced into something you don't want to be doing--that's relatable. And that's what pulled me in in the first two paragraphs and back in the fourth.

  4. I agree with the previous comments that the last paragraph is the most powerful for me, even though I do have some musical background. Andrew put it well in explaining that the implied loneliness and frustration there make the character more relatable. I was also a little confused on the opening line. Why are the notes swimming in front of the MC's eyes? At first I thought your character was about to faint.

    With a different starting point though, this could get a very different reaction--and it is hard to judge these with just 250 words to go by. Good luck!

  5. I disagree with the previous comments - I was drawn in immediately. I could picture a violinist at play from the second sentence, and I know what it feels like to practice till your fingers cramp up and the notes blend together. Maybe it's because of my own experience as a teenage band geek that I could so readily identify with your character, but I loved this excerpt and would love to read more. :)

  6. Excellent job on conveying your MC's personality, and I love how you illustrate her difficulties (i.e. the string broke on the same part of music last week).

    While this may not be accessible to everyone because it begins with an activity not everyone can understand, I still found it very intriguing. Good job and much luck!

  7. I liked this precisely because the MC has an unusual talent (unusual in literature, I think, not necessarily in life). I appreciate her passion and drive, and want to know more about her. I also have faith from the details that the author knows what he/she is talking about.

    It's interesting how, even though nothing much happens in this excerpt, I want to read on simply because I'm interested in the character.

  8. I wanted a little grounding as to the setting. There's a big difference if she's playing in her bedroom vs. a music practice room somewhere else.

    What is the summer school audition for? A summer orchestra at the high school? Our local high school has a band/orchestra in the summer, but there's no audition requirement. I wanted to know more about the group.

    Why did the notes swim on the page? My first thought was tears of frustration or that she had been focusing on the music too long.

    I like how you show us the competing emotions of the MC. She obviously loves playing but is frustrated by the music selection and herself.

    The last line is perfect. It gives the reader so much information about the MC.

  9. I really like the idea of a musician main character, so I might keep reading a bit here.

    But I have to admit the opening scene was a little confusing. The way the music blurs makes me think there's something wrong with her -- is there? I'd like to know more about that. And I felt like there was a little too much explanation of the backstory of the piece and the audition when I wanted to know more about what was happening right now.

    But with some line editing I think this could be the start to a promising story.