Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #9

TITLE: Kit Dawson
GENRE: YA mystery/thriller

“If you scream or try anything stupid, I will kill you. Do you understand?”

From my prone position on the floor, staring down the barrel of a freakin’ large gun, I nodded. My captor relaxed a bit and as the hard lines in his face smoothed out, I couldn’t help but notice that he was rather good-looking. Of course, the effect was spoiled by the whole being taken prisoner thing.

Behind him, another man dumped the contents of my backpack onto the threadbare carpet, pawing through stuff until he found my wallet. His brows lifted in surprise as he scanned my student I.D.

“It says she’s a geek from MIT.” He flicked the card over.

The one standing over me tucked the gun into his waistband and pulled over a white resin chair, one of four that had been set around a cheap plastic table. The only other furnishings in the decrepit apartment were a tattered orange sofa and an old rectangular coffee table, the faux wood grain surface peeling with age.

“Now, Kathryn Dawson,” he said conversationally as he read from my I.D. “What the hell are you doing here?”



The can of Coke exploded all over my polished cotton button-down, the one Dr. Farris had insisted I wear for this morning’s big presentation.


  1. It may just be me, but if someone just told me they were going to kill me, I certainly wouldn't think about how good looking they were. But that just may be me.

    Also, I think the description of the room isn't needed right now - it seems to take up valuable real estate when you could tell us something about the main character - I'd rather just get to the main conflict. Is it necessary to flash back so fast like that? It seems abrupt.

  2. I was surprised that the character wasn't more afraid, or at least, worried. They seemed so nonchalant about the whole situation. Of course from this I couldn't tell if that is their personality or just too much understatement.

  3. This will sound pedantic, but how can she be lying prone (i.e., face down) on the floor and staring down the barrel of a gun? I'm afraid you lost me because I couldn't picture it.

    I agree with Jilliebeans that the mention of the captor's looks seemed out of place. The description of the furnishings could work if there were a purpose to it; for example, if Kathryn were looking around for a weapon or trying to guess where she is.

    You did make me want to know what the men were up to and how Kathryn got into this mess, so good job on creating suspense!

  4. To echo some of the thoughts here, I do think there's an issue with the nonchalant-ness of the character's voice. The fact she finds her captor attractive did seem a bit odd to me and not like something she'd think about in this stressful situation, but even the way she thinks about it is way too nonchalant, too. She'd be way too terrified to think something like "the effect was ruined by the whole being taken prison thing." In reality, her heart would be hammering in her chest, she'd be praying that she's going to live, etc. Even the word "freakin" sounded too tame - like a sarcastic word that wouldn't be used in such a stressful life-or-death situation.

    I agree with Rebecca - layer in setting details according to purpose and in a way that reveals her terror in this situation - as is it feels plopped there with no emotion or reason attached to it.

    That being said, it is a good scene to open with - rife with tension and prompts questions, such as why are these guys holding her at gunpoint and rummaging through her backpack? Think about adding in a bit more MC personality in this scene that will endear this character to readers from the get go. What's her strength? Does she do something in this stressful situation or at least tries something heroic that makes her distinctive and easy to root for right from the start? Right now she seems like anyone who could be caught in a held-at-gunpoint situation. Anyway, good luck with this!

  5. Cute but not believable. The humor needs to be over the top such that it seems to be the MC's way of coping, or the MC ought to appear frightened. But she seems too cool about being in trouble and it makes me think the scene is fake.

  6. I agree with the others. Thinking the captor is good looking is odd. Also if she is prone on the floor is her captor also lying on the floor pointing the gun at her? If not I can't see her looking down the barrel of the gun. The only other thing is if she goes to MIT would this be a new adult novel. Now that you hate me let me add that the writing is good and the tension is well done.

  7. I'm afraid I'm just repeating what others have said. If she's not scared, your reader won't be scared either.

    I was also disappointed that you went into flashback mode. You created an interesting situation and then dropped it. If you're not going to finish the scene, why start there?

    It has potential, but you may want to reconsider the execution.

  8. I agree about being scared. Either it's a dangerous situation and she's terrified (he goes through her wallet -- that means that he'll know where she lives if he lets her go!) or she can be cheeky and it's not that bad. But we need to know which and why (if it's the latter).

    Also, picky but usually YA books don't have kids in college. Unless it's a fake id?

  9. I'm not a big fan of the "cut to 36 hours earlier." It makes me feel cheated--I want to know what's going on in the scene right now. Otherwise, why did you start the story here? If the story starts 36 hours ago, start it 36 hours ago. Build tension and foreshadow what's going to happen.

    Until that point, I was engaged. I thought you showed that the MC was cool under pressure--unafraid and noticing details despite the dire situation she's in.

  10. I'm afraid you lost me the moment the MC found the person pointing a gun at her face attractive. She is far too nonchalant in her reaction here, which suspends my belief in the scene from the get-go.

    Let's see some fear! Let's see some panic! It will build stakes and sympathy for your MC in one fell swoop.