Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #3

TITLE: Finding Me
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

My vision tunneled then returned like a slinky springing back to formation. Anger surged through me. Zack stood taller and straightened his broad shoulders, attempting to assert himself over me.

I tried to suppress the anger, to push it back. But it was palpable and fueled by his. I took a deep breath and shifted my eyes to the gray lockers that lined the walls. The tall, slender lockers reminded me of my classmates hunched in groups, telling secrets, whispering lies. Oh hell. This isn’t working. Maybe I should turn and bolt in the opposite direction.

A slap to his face might help, too. Seriously! Zack wasn’t patient. He wouldn’t wait for me to contemplate a response to him kissing Casey.

He launched himself forward, snatched me by the waist, and narrowed his eyes. His jaw clenched and he lowered his head to meet my glare. “You have to listen -”

I forced my eyes upward. After what I saw, I wasn’t about to let him bully me. My mouth stumbled for the right words. “I…no…you are not-”

My head jerked back suddenly, casting a dozen sparkling stars across my eyes and a bolt of electricity shot up my spine. The zap was so intense, I stumbled, face first to the floor. The fall should have placed me on the smooth dry surface of the wood floor of the school hallway.

It didn’t.

My hands met moisture. My eyes bulged as I took in what lay beneath them: grass.


  1. I really love the ending line to this sample because it shows a lot about this character's world.

    The first line was distracting with the slinky. I wanted to know more about this character, and care more about what was happening. Maybe this jumped into the action too quickly? What if you began with the kissing scene? Then the reader might get a better picture of who this character is and the motivations. Good luck in the contest!

  2. You mention twice that the MC is angry at the beginning. Rather than telling us, can you show us? For ex: instead of anger surging through her, are her fists balled up? Is she biting her lip until it bleeds, or squeezing something in her hands? Show us her anger through her actions.

    You mention the BF kissing another girl. Why not put us into that memory? Have the MC see it again. Maybe every time she looks at him she only sees his hands wrapped in another girl's hair, his lips smacked against Casey's, or her BF pushing the other girl up against a wall. Show us that moment that has her so angry so we can feel her emotions.

    I like the ending. I want to know where she is and what happened. Nice way to draw the reader.

    Nice job and good luck :)

  3. Sorry, but I didn't have a clue as to what was happening until parg 3.
    Perhaps consider starting a bit earlier, with your MC seeing Zach kiss Casey.

    If we see that, we immediately know what's going on, and we understand your MC's anger. As is, we have two angry people glaring at each other for an unknown reason, and we don't even know who the 2nd person is. (We know it's the MC, but we don't know if the MC is male or female or what their relationship is to Zack.)

  4. I agree with Barb. I prefer to be shown the inciting event. In this case I think you start a little earlier in the story.

    Also, I felt it the locker imagery was out of place here. There's supposed to be tension here and he stops to think this descriptive thought about lockers? It slows the pace and takes me out... my mind focuses on lockers and what they really look like. Too much space dedicated to something you could use to give us more info on the MC.

  5. I agree with all the of the past comments--it's too hard to get into a characters point of view when they are angry. I want to get to know the character and be ripped along with her. On that note, I still think that this is a compelling scene and should certainly be part of the story. I'd read on.

  6. This opening might suffer a bit from being too much in the middle of the action without the necessary set up. The first few lines would fit great later in the page or chapter. Introducing your character first would help, and showing what led to this scene. Maybe this needs to back up a bit first.

  7. I like the imagery / idea of the first line, but it seems to be worded a bit awkwardly. Maybe try out a different first line and save the slinky simile for later.
    I had similar feelings about the rest of the passage. I think there is some good writing here, I just wish I knew a little more about what was going on exactly. This exchange feels like it needs a little more background / set up to pull the reader in. I really liked the descriptions in the ending paragraphs("My head jerked back...")

  8. The first scene left me slightly confused. Some of the actions seemed to be... strange(? I don't know a better word). First of, I'd need to know if the narrator is male or female to determine the form of jealousy and to understand the grabbing. I thought Zack grabbed the narrator to fight (a sort of body tackle) but that would be wrong if the narrator is female.

    Then, there's no apparent reason why the head snaps back. And the action that follows simply doesn't fit. If the head flies backwards, there's just no way (s)he would stumble FORward and land on her hands (unless she's a cat). The motion is BACKward.

    That said, your prose is lovely. I liked the picture of the stars very much.

  9. Interesting twist here!
    It took me until the fourth paragraph to get a handle on what was happening, though – the opening sentence with the tunnel vision is very abstract. Could we start with a description of what your narrator sees Zack doing, and how she feels about it? The reveal felt a bit buried and didn’t carry enough weight.

    It also seemed off for the narrator to interject with “seriously!” in the midst of a scary, possibly dangerous moment between her and Zack. The tone jumped around quite a bit and I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for—if you can set the scene more clearly from the start, it will give your reader a better sense of where both characters stand and what the conflict is.

    Also, keep an eye out for vague descriptions, like “my mouth stumbled for the right words.” The more precise you can be about what your narrator is feeling and doing, the better.