Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #19

TITLE: The Truth About Leaving
GENRE: YA Contemporary

The first time I saw Dov, I was twirling in the foyer of Wilmette Academy. Wearing Maddie's blue wig and my matching cowboy boots, my head flung back, eyes closed, arms outstretched, I felt wild and happy and free.

At least I did until my boots slipped on the polished black and white tiles. And then there was nothing wild or happy or free about it. There was a mess of arms and legs moving in every direction and that awful feeling of being suspended in midair when you know it won't last.

Here's the irony about my spectacular fall. As someone who'd started taking ballet classes about ten minutes after she learned to walk, I know how to spin without losing my balance. It's an easy trick, one that's taught to eight-year olds in dusty ballet studios all around the world. You pick a spot in front of you and focus on it as your body rotates, letting it leave your sight for only the fraction of a second that it takes to whip your head back around and find it again. Your focus on that spot is what allows you to keep spinning in perfect little pirouettes, seemingly forever.

You never look elsewhere, not even for a second.

You never, ever, close your eyes.

I did both.


  1. Nice opener. Good voice! My daughter is a dancer and would eat that right up!
    Good Luck.

  2. Love the description! I was twirling and falling right along with the character. Strong hint that there's something more coming, but not enough to even formulate a guess as to what it is. I'm intrigued!

  3. Love the idea of a ballet story, but if she's been dancing since she was five, why would she close her eyes AND look elsewhere? And how could she do both at once?

    Also, who is the guy and what does he have to do with her? Need more info about her conflicts and what's going on here.

  4. I truly truly love this. The voice draws me right in, and I love the last two lines. I would definitely read on.

  5. Your writing style is great. Voice is definitely a strength for you, which brings out your main character's personality well. I want to know who's watching her (cute boy, group of boys, group of girls) so we know the stakes. It would make this fall all the more humiliating for her, which then makes your reader want to know what's going to happen next.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. All I can say is that I <3 this. The voice is terrific, and the writing flows yet is efficient. Great job! Good luck!

  8. I don't know what to say because dance is not my thing but I like it and would secretly read more.

  9. I'm guessing this is a prologue, so if so, I think it works. A ballet angle is super interesting to me, having been obsessed with ballerinas as a child, although the dance part never quite worked out for me. I would read on to see where this story is heading. :)

  10. Having been a miserable failure in my one summer of ballet classes, I’ve always appreciated the hard work and skill that goes into dancing! I also appreciate the humor of doing something stupid in front of someone you rather be impressing.

    I had some confusion though. How could she see Dov if she had her head flung back and her eyes closed? If she was a trained ballerina, how come she wasn’t following the spinning “rules”? Maybe start with the spinning rules, with the assumption that’s she’s actually spinning. Mid-spin, Dov steps in front of her “spot,” she blinks, then goes into the fall. (You can pirouette in cowboy boots? Just asking.) You use the word “twirl,” so maybe she’s not doing an actual ballerina spin, but if not, I don’t get the irony and the reason for the explanation of the rules. I’d start with “Here's the irony about my spectacular fall” and put the actual fall after that.

    Delete: “And then there was nothing wild or happy or free about it.”

    Describing a “a mess of arms and legs moving in every direction” takes us out of the MC’s POV, as she probably wouldn’t see her own arms and legs in the chaos of the moment.

    Good luck!

  11. Wow, I was captivated by this once I got past the first sentence. With the first sentence, I thought we would hear more about Dov. (I'm scratching my head over whether this is a male or female name. Or if the MC is male or female.)

  12. I love all of this except for one thing: How in the world could she possibly have seen Dov? She was twirling with her eyes closed--she said so herself. This should be an easy fix: tweak the first line, and perhaps introduce Dov just a little earlier, so we haven't forgotten about him before he shows up.

    The voice here is great so far, though: believable, sympathetic, self-deprecating. I'd read on.