Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #28

TITLE: The Dark Side of My Shadow
GENRE: YA Psychological Thriller

Celia is happiest when she’s cruel. On the shore she laughs, high and wicked. “You’re never going to find it,” she mocks me, my mirror image, my twisted twin.

Jason stands next to her. Hands balled into fists. “What did you f***ing do?” He’s mad. Maybe the maddest I’ve ever seen him. The chords in his neck stand out, and a muscle ticks along his jaw.

I dive back into the water. It’s cold, so cold that my teeth hurt from banging against one another and I can’t feel my legs anymore. Still, I propel my body down and furiously search the sandy bottom. Cellie’s been getting worse. And lately her rage, her chaos, her madness has been directed at me. I pretend I don’t know why. But I do. I stay under for as long as possible. My eyes sting from the dirty water but I keep them open, scanning the bottom for something that doesn’t belong.

My lungs burn and the oxygen in them begs for release. I am forced to the top. My body breaks the surface and I inhale a huge breath. Jason shakes his head and crouches by the water, his combat boots meeting the waves. He lights a cigarette while he watches me carefully.

“Please help me,” I yell.


  1. I would want to see more, and I think this is a good scene to open up with.

    However in my opinion I think the writing could be pared down a little bit: if Jason has his hands balled into fists and is swearing I don't need to be told he's mad.

    Also when the MC dives back into the water searching for something, the little bit about Cellie distracts from the action. I'd rather that came later, or before, and instead more focus was paid to her search.

  2. I think your imagery/description is quite lovely, 'my twisted twin' immediately caught my attention. That said the connection between paragraphs feels a tad disjointed, like you introduce three different characters and I really feel like I'm getting an introduction. Even if you played with your transitions a bit it might help. This was just me playing with it to get it to flow a bit better but keeping your words:

    [..]she mocks me, my mirror image, my twisted twin.

    "What did you f***ing do?" Jacob yells at her. His hands are balled into fists and the cords in his neck stand out, a muscle ticks along his jaw. ((He's mad. Maybe the maddest I've ever seen him.))

    I dive away from them, back into the water. [...]"

    Just one option, but I do think your writing is lovely. I agree with Sescha that the mad sentence is more telling when you've already showed it through the rest of your words, so I'd also consider cutting that.

    Overall you've caught my interest and I would definitely read more.

  3. I'd like to read more. I really want to know what the 'twisted twin' tossed in the water.

    I agree with the last two reviews on the 'mad' issue.

    I would take the sentences about Cellie getting worse and move them out of the paragraph where she's frantically searching. I don't think they belong there.

    Overall I'm hooked.

  4. Great opening line. Celia's awful, and I'm curious to know more about her. I'd read further. One little quibble: once your lungs burn up oxygen they're full of carbon dioxide.

  5. Very nice! The first paragraph is just so interesting. And I like that you don't tell why Celia is angry. The teases, the pacing, the writing–it all works.

    Fix: it is 'cords', not 'chords'

    Mysterious and heck, yes, I'd read on.

  6. Great set-up, but I think you're over describing the emotions. I agree with the comment above - if you show us balled fists, there is no need to tell us he's mad. I would also add that you're sometimes using two or three body language indicators when only one would be necessary to convey the feeling.

  7. I'm definitely interested in reading more and I don't think I've read YA since I was YA. I love this compelling opening, with three characters on a beach, one in the water. And the one in the water is looking for something. What is it? I want to know. I was on a canoe trip where someone lost a waterproof camera in the river and we dove and felt along the bottom for close to an hour until we found it. This was a dead on reminder of that experience. I do agree that some edits (e.g. removing the statement that Jason is mad) will make this even stronger. Nice work and good luck with this.

  8. It may just be me (because no-one else has mentioned it) - but from your title I was assuming your 'twisted sister' was your shadow and was the darker side of yourself? Even as I read through the first page I can still envisage Cellie being the evil shadow and not a real person.

    Either way, I was hooked and would read on.

  9. I was hooked as soon as I found out it was her twin. I like your MC's voice and your description was good, but I also agree you don't need to both show the emotions and tell us he's mad. I'd definitely read on!