Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #11

TITLE: Key of Eden
GENRE: YA Paranormal

As I walked through the burgundy doors of St. Agnes Prep School, the busy halls were full of rich kids. Spoiled brats who took their parents for granted and demanded respect without earning it. To them is was a right, not a privilege. Their selfish mentalities were the reason school sucked and why my last year of high school felt like I was constantly being shoved through a meat grinder.

The good news? I only had a couple months left before I could tell those suckers to kiss it.

Planting my feet in front of my locker, I struggled with the combination lock. It never opened the first go round, and today was no different. I growled and grumbled, giving it a quick tug thinking brute force might pry it open, but my luck was never that good. It stayed locked and the whole process began again. This time, with a resounding click, the metal bar sprang free and my locker swung open.

I snatched out my Literature and Advanced Calculus books and shoved my gym clothes into my locker. I let out a curse as my elbow slammed against the corner of my locker and pain radiated through my arm. If this was any indication of how the rest of the day would go, I was tempted to go back home, crawl in bed and let the world continue in its chaotic blunder without me.

Slamming my locker shut, I jumped when I saw a figure standing next to me.


  1. Hello there!

    I haven't read many YA paranormal within a school setting, so please take my comments with a grain of salt.

    I like that you get a distinctive voice from the beginning: personally I've found this a little bit difficult to do, and you manage to slip it he setting and scenario without too much back story blurb.

    However, I feel that in this opening the MC comes across as whiny. I'm not sure if this is the point (MC develops through story, etc) but from the get go it feels as if she's only complaining. About the other students, her locker, etc.

    Maybe you could keep the first sentence, and then jump to 'the good news...'? I like to see a little bit more action in my opening scenes.

  2. I agree that voice is one of your strengths here. Even if the MC does come across as bitter and whiny, at least they have personality, and I'm willing to go a few pages to see the good (i.e., fun) sides of that personality shine through.

    However, my main issue here is that not much happens. You spend two paragraphs one the MC opening and retrieving things from their locker. Why is this important? You could condense that down to two sentences and then get to the figure which, I'm assuming, is essential to the novel's plot/tension. Also, we're getting told a lot rather than shown it, and I'd like to see this MC's voice in action describing the halls as s/he walks through them.

    Also, the third sentence has an error: "To them is was a right, not a privilege."

  3. I love the voice here. It has me wanting to read more as the voice alone draws me in. And I get it, your showing your MC starting off a bad day with a few ARGH!! moments. Maybe the trick here would be to still mention all these moments but not elaborate of every single one so much..if that makes sense. But regardless you still have me hooked.

  4. Starting off with a rant without first having an action: No no.
    Show us a reason for the vitriol first. It could also introduce other characters for the MC to interact with.

    Nice voice.

    Is there something interesting/illegal in his locker? Is it a he?

    Inverted action: "I let out a curse". First, show the elbow slamming, then let out curse at pain.

    Wordy: 'If this was any indication'. Also, the last part is confusing. Can you split it into two sentences at 'and'?

    The last line is a weak hook, but could be reworked into a great one.

  5. I agree with the previous comments that the voice is great for YA - after the first paragraph. I really think you should take another look at the word choices in that first paragraph.

    I initially thought a teacher was talking and did a double take when I got to the second paragraph. A teenager will not hate the rich kids because they take their parents for granted and don't respect authority. That's an adult's point of view. I'd be more likely to believe she hates their new clothes or flashy car or perceives them to have no problems in life.

  6. What I get from this opening page is that the MC is in high school and has a miserable disposition. Nothing entices me to read on. I’m wondering if there’s a better place to start this, where we perhaps get a hint, or a glimpse, or a sense of the paranormal, or where we see the MC in a different light. It’s okay for her to be miserable, but when you start that way, it seems that’s who she is.

    We also need a hint as to what the story is about, and with this opening, it could be anything. Steer us in the direction you want to take us.

  7. I like the second paragraph (line), but agree with other commenters that this may be too mundane of an opening.

    Nitpick: If she's had to do her combination twice all year, I find it odd that it still bothers her. I'd think she'd just be doing it twice without thought by this point.

  8. The MC's narration, I'm afraid, has somewhat of a generic feel to me. What kid doesn't have a grudge against the rich clique. Think of a stronger spin on this age-old problem. Make the MC's voice (and insight) really stand out.