Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #45

GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

When I am changing for swim practice after school, I fully understand the cryptic statement my grandmother made this morning. December 6. “You’re 17 ½ now. Today is the day you become a woman,” she had said. “I’ll explain this evening.” In the rush to get out the door, I hadn’t paid close attention, and just chalked it up to her absent-mindedness.

But while I wrestle my swim suit over my unexpectedly curvaceous chest, I realize that, somehow, suddenly, I went from a barely B to a voluptuous D. We’re talking, like, Kate Hudson to Katy Perry.

I pinch myself, and run over to the mirror. The cold, hard tiles beneath my feet remind me that I am awake, though the bright overhead lights make me look like a zombie. I have seen enough—this change is real.

Typically, I fly under the radar at school. To be fair, I’m noticed at the academic awards assemblies, but it sure isn’t for my looks. If anything, my height and lack of curves gets me negative attention. My name is actually Eugénie —Genie for short—but because I’m so tall, the oh-so-original popular kids have been calling me Bean Pole—Beanie—since my growth spurt in sixth grade.

Shaking my head at my reflection, I’m annoyed and bewildered by yet another spontaneous, dramatic physical change. I’ve already had to do a lot of adjusting and damage control recently.


  1. If big boobs=woman then all the small chested ladies are still kids? Come on, Grandma, you should know better than that. There will be small chested girls reading, and they'll feel really bad about themselves.

    Also, I would cut "I'll explain this evening," the sentence flows a bit better without it.

  2. I felt like there was just a tad too much information crammed in here. I was all set to hear more of what the main character thought her grandmother meant and what was going to happen tonight, but then the story starts talking about other things: her figure, her name, her status with the other kids, and leaves me hanging with something about damage control.
    I would liked to have seen even just a sentence or two about what Grandma might have planned before moving on. It would have set the hook even deeper for me.

  3. I liked the idea that her physical appearance changed so rapidly from what she was use to - it gives the reader insight that something drastic is about to unfold. Reminds me along the lines of the Tom Hanks movie, BIG.

    That being said, I would've started with that - furthering the hook of what could possibly be happening and dropped the detail about her grandmother lower down. Or, as Bird commented above, given more around the conversation with her grandmother. Choosing one and expanding just a bit further, will really help to draw your reader in.

    I think you've done a clever job with her name and tying it to the obvious theme with the title. I'm curious and would read on.

    Best of luck!

    And Empress Awesome, shame on you for 1). Calling the author 'Grandma' (really, is that necessary?) and 2). Assuming this submit is only about chest size. Neither comment is particularly constructive and deviates from the point of these contests.

  4. Excellent teenage voice. Loved have quickly the story moved. I feel like I know how he thinks already. I would Definately read more.

  5. Too much explaining, but an interesting start. How about having one of the popular girls come in and ask where she bought those?

  6. I thought it started okay. SHe's changing for swim practice and notices the drastic change. But then, instead of walking out to the pool and having everyone else notice, or maybe her bathing suit doesn't fit now, thanks to her sudden growth spurt, or any of so many other possible scenarios, she starts chatting.

    Who is she talking to? WHo is she explaining to? The reader is not part of the story. She shouldn't be talking to me. And while she is talking to me, nothing is happening. The story stops.

    Keep her in the moment. Keep her in the story, and if you find yourself explaining, cut it.

  7. I have to agree with Barbara.

    If her change happens so quickly, why not have it be like she steps out of the locker room and gets dirty looks and whistles and stuff. Have her bewildered and confused about why everyone is acting that way, then go back into the locker room to discover what the big deal is. Then it would make sense for her to be talking to herself (and thereby the reader) at that point.

    I've read this excerpt before and enjoyed it then. I'm still intrigued and would read on. :)

  8. I remember reading your other opening and being intrigued by it just for the fact that it's a genie story. Unfortunately, this opening isn't working for me because the only change you mention in the first page is her breasts. I don't think you have to mention she's a genie on the first page, but maybe you could give more of a hint that what she's going through is supernatural and take her away from the mirror.

    BTW, I like Samantha's idea of having other people notice Genie's dramatic change.

  9. I'm afraid I don't think the opening is quite working here. It's an inherently funny concept -- how awkward would it be to jump a bra size at the wrong moment? -- but I think you're playing it down a little too much. And I think I'd need a little more context about Genie and to get to know her voice a little better before I was really hooked by the sudden physical changes she undergoes. This strikes me as an end-of-chapter-one event, not an opening-page one.

    I'd also like to see more of the body horror that would come from such a sudden change. I don't think most people would react calmly to it!

    But this is a very creative idea, and you get story started quickly.

  10. I think this is a really fun idea, but you've started in the wrong place. Rather than beginning here and telling us about granny's warning, you should start with that, have Genie puzzle over it briefly, then get on with her day.

    Then at swim practice, when the transformation happens, it'll be more satisfying because you've set up a sense of mystery.

  11. These comments are extremely helpful. It's amazing that after revising and getting multiple reader critiques there is still so much room for improvement! I agree with a lot of the feedback and have already begun editing accordingly.
    Thanks, everyone!