Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #9

TITLE: Cousins - A choose-your-own-adventure novel

An eerie cloud of smoke hovered about three feet off the floor. The room was dark except for the eerie blood-red hue of the computer screen and the small, fiery glow of a cigarette put to lips. A large sinister figure sat at his computer, hacking away. His cough chased the smoke from his lungs. His wings pounded away on the dirty keyboard with all the skills of the hacker he so proudly was.

“Okay, I am in,” Raben announced. “Let’s see what’s in your inbox today, young adventure-writer Nash Roberts. If I am right, you have an email from my cousin. After all, it is your birthday, and old cuz is so predictable. And there it is. Well, now we are going to have some fun. I’ll delete this message from Raven, and replace it with….”

Good morning, Nash, and happy birthday from Hilda and me. Nash, Miss VonRedhairenschnoben and I have a special gift for you this year. We have decided to let you write a few chapters with my worldly cousin, Raben. Your readers might like the change of pace. He prefers to keep things a little creepier than we do. Still a lot of fun, mind you, just creepier. Anyhow, we will catch up with you later. I’m going to step out of the way and let Raben take over the rest of this email. Don’t forget to take good notes.


Good morning, Nash, and happy thirteenth birthday to you, dude.


  1. Choose your own adventure? That's fun!

    Just a note, you use the word 'eerie' twice in the first two sentences.

    I admit I'm pretty confused by this. Maybe a little context? I don't understand what's going on. Maybe the next commenter will have a better idea.

  2. Agreed, choose-your-own adventure definitely sounds like fun. In the classics, though, they generally start you off immediately in a specific situation, prizing clarity and plot over tone and language.

    I guess what I'm saying is that, I, too, am a bit confused. Okay, a lot confused. I'm not even sure if Raben is Raven or not. Why have two names that are so similar? Also, if Raben is the cousin of Raven, and therefore also a bird, I'm not sure wings would be the best for typing (as opposed to beak and claws).

    This reads more like a MG novel to me, but maybe that is also a result of what I expect from CYOA novels.

  3. It's been a few decades since I read a choose your own adventure story, but aren't they usually written in the second person? As in, "you wake up to see a computer screen glowing in the corner of your bedroom, and a cigarette-smoking raven pounding on the keyboard," or "you open your email and find..."

    With the third person narration, I couldn't tell if this was really a CYOA or if the title was tongue-in-cheek.

    I'd second the comments above, that I wasn't quite sure what was going on and Raben/Raven was confusing, but keep working on it. I think there's a good concept here.

  4. I like your writing style. The "blood red" description was fantastic.
    I'd probably read on a bit further, but only to see if it was "just me," or if the story was going to continue to confuse.
    Some great books begin by purposely being vague (I"m thinking Maniac Magee), and this may be one of them! Maybe just a bit more clarity up front would help hook less patient readers.

  5. I also thought CYOA was in second person. This could work with some tweaking, though.

    More info up front would help with clarity/choices.

    Raben/Raven is confusing

    Funny: VonRedhairenschnoben

    This might fit MG very well. Just a thought.

  6. A nice, creepy opening that immediately sets the scene and creates an overall mood of dark and sinisterness. Perhaps cut the ending – with all the skills of the hacker he so proudly was. It’s extraneous and you don’t need it. And perhaps that cloud of smoke could come when you show him smoking.

    I didn’t get the point in the letter where Raven supposedly writes he’s going to ‘let’ Nash write a few chapters with Raben. Why would he have to ‘let’ him? Can’t Nash write with whoever he pleases? Perhaps it’s just a case of choosing a different word? But I’d read more. I feel like there’s a creepy, but fun, adventure in the works.

  7. I also got held up by the story being in third person instead of second person. It's tough for me to picture how this will work as a choose-your-own-adventure.

    But I did enjoy the opening imagery and the sinister feeling. Might help to clue the reader in on why he feels compelled to hack into this e-mail and change the message. Is he purely evil, or does he know these people?

  8. I had a hard time getting into this for a couple of reasons. One, the first paragraph is overwritten. Two, we're thrown into the CYOA scenario so quickly that I honestly have no idea what's happening. Cool premise, though.