Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #32

TITLE: Better Than Imagined

Violet Betterton was missing the very last softball game of the season. Her straight brown hair was styled into a fancy up-do. She was wearing a shiny periwinkle dress and sticky pink lip gloss. Her legs were encased in the itchiest white tights on Earth.

Four bridesmaids had already gone down the aisle when the wave of ookiness came over Violet. The job was supposed to be simple—count carefully between steps, drop a pink rose petal at perfectly regular intervals, smile for the cameras, and keep the ring bearer in line—no matter what.

Violet choked on a cloud of perfume. She twitched all over, the way she does when she knows something terrible is going to happen. The last thing the hairdo lady said was “Don’t worry honey, even a three-year old can do this.”

That was the problem. Everyone knows that flower girls are never eleven and three quarters.

The edge of the white runner was bunched up under Violet’s feet. She stepped over it gingerly and dropped the first petal. Flashbulbs popped. The flower girl grinned against her will. Relatives that she had never met were oohing and awing. Violet dropped more petals.

What happened next kind of wasn’t her fault—at all.


  1. Yes, I would read on. Violet is my kind of girl - trying to make the best of a tough situation and not being a brat about it. The humor is understated - having to keep the ring bearer in line no matter what - that conjures up a whole scene for me in such few words. You raise some great story questions - does she have some kind of power? Does she ruine the wedding? And why was she forced to be a flower girl at that age? Well, done. Really enjoyed it.

  2. I really enjoyed this. I like the idea of an 11y/o as a flower girl. When you first state her age, my exact thought was why is she a flower girl :)

    I think you can punch up the opening. It's a bit passive. Combine a few sentences ex:

    She wore a shiny periwinkle dress, sticky pink lip gloss and her hair styled into a fancy up-do. Her legs itched in the suffocating white tights.

    Obviously that may not work the way you want, but it's an idea to show you can get rid of the passive voice and still show the same scene.

    I really like the opening and already like Violet. You've done a lot for this MC in only 250 words! Great job.

  3. This totally brought on some childhood trauma flashbacks - namely those white tights! Oh, how I dreaded them! Lol!

    I think you've done a lot here. It's a great opening and I like (and sympathize) with Violet. However, I agree with Meredith, you could punch up the opening a bit, but I did enjoy the picture it drew for me.

    Best of luck!

  4. I like leading with Violet's name. The details are great but I do like Meredith's rewrite of the beginning to get rid of the passive "was." There are a few places where I was jarred by a tense change. I'd definitely keep reading.

  5. Great hook! I'm ready to read on. I liked the subtle increase in tension in the third graph.
    I'm not sure what 'ookiness' is. It stopped me. 'perfectly regular intervals' sounds adult. I don't think anyone uses flashbulbs any more. Overall, I thought this nicely crafted.

  6. The switch to present tense at "the way she does sometimes" threw me off, and it does read better without the passive verbs. But I love everything else about this. Ends with a great hook and the MC is likable. Good work!

  7. There is no connection with the first sentence to me. I guess we're supposed to assume she's annoyed that she's missing the softball game but you don't tell us that. I'd like some more information. Is she a tom boy and hates being in a dress while her team is playing without her?

    I'm not a fan of the first paragraph because of that. Shes missing a game, then you describe what she looks like. You don't really know why any of it matters until later. The second paragraph finally starts with some voice and it comes together. I like it from there on!

  8. I love the first line!

    I'm a little bothered by the "was" construction of the remaining sentences in the paragraph, but I love the picture you've drawn.

    I was horrified that she was a flower girl--until I learned that she, too, knew she was too old for the job.

    The wave of ookiness, followed by choking on perfume, and then twitching all over--that threesome of physical responses to apparently unrelated stimuli--hits me as too much variety for the opening.

    The ending hook is wonderful. "Kind of wasn't her fault--at all" works for me in a charming way.

  9. I really like this one! I definitely get a feel for her voice, and I sympathize with her (when she easily could've seemed bratty and whiny instead of funny and sympathetic).

    I think I want more detail in how she's feeling emotionally. You give a lot of physical discomfort, but besides saying that everyone knows she's too old to be a flower girl, how does she feel about that? Annoyed? Embarrassed or humiliated? Or maybe she loves the bride/groom so much that she's happy to be there, despite the uncomfortable clothes and missing the game. (Also, is she bitter and resentful about missing the game, or is she sad but understanding that this takes priority?)

    Definitely modernize "flashbulbs popped"... most people take pictures with there phones now, not even cameras!

    Whose perfume is she choking on? She's not walking yet, so it can't be a guest.

    It was off-putting to read "the flower girl" grinned against her will instead of "Violet" or "she."

    Love the last line!

  10. I really like this. The fancy hair, shiny dress, and white tights leads me to believe the MC is perhaps a tomboy forced to dress that way. I'm not sure I like "no matter what" in regards to the ring bearer getting out of line. I wonder how she would react if he did? However, I love the last line and I would read on to find out what happens.

  11. I thought you did a nice job of making Violet a real and likeable character.

    The issues for me were the telling/passive writing and tense switches. I'd also eliminate that last line. It does work here as an ending hook to the excerpt, but when considered with the rest of the chapter, you're telling us something is going to happen before it happens. I'd suggest cutting the line and just allow the disaster to happen.

  12. I loved the scene and liked the understated humor..especially, "even a 3 year old could do this!". But I agree that it's a bit passive. You could add a lot more kick to it by getting rid of the passive voice. Then we can see Violet reacting a bit more to her hair, her tights, etc. Does she like what she looks like and what she is wearing? But love the scene and would read on

  13. I liked this and wanted to know what happened next. A couple of suggestions.

    o The switch from softball to brown hair is very abrupt. You might make a smoother transition by saying something like, Instead of a ponytail, her straight...

    o There is something wrong with the structure of the third paragraph. There are three different ideas here, one in each line; clouds of perfume, twitching all over, and the hairdressers comment. You need to clarify, or simply this series. They don't link up well together.

    o Also, there is a tense problem in the 'twitched' sentence.

    I liked the voice and the set-up.

  14. It was a cute opening, although i agree with those who commented about passive voice, tense switch and telling.

    To me, the scratchy tights and flashes popping places the story in a previous generation, was that your intent?

    I liked the foreshadowing inthe last line. It's difficult to get it right (I was once howled at by my writers' group for using a 'but what happened next...' teaser) but I think you got it right.

  15. I love the set up and Violet is a likeable and relate-able character, and this will keep readers turning the pages.

    Eliminate the passive voice and tense switches and this will help put the reader right in the middle of the story.

    The first line tells me Violet is a tomboy at heart and would rather be playing softball, so I like that line.

    Over all I think it's a nice beginning for an MG novel, and I think it only needs a little tightening up

  16. Lovely beginning, but the fist sentence stands a little on its own. It's somehow not very related to the rest of the text. Maybe you can make hew wonder about the game or add her longing to be there to make it stronger.

    Also, there's a slip in time (from past to present). Surely an oversight. Other than that, very intriguing.

  17. Who can’t relate to itchy white tights and uncomfortable wedding wear when you’re a kid? Nice set-up here, as we’re immediately on Violet’s side. I like the premise of the overgrown flower girl. Keep an eye out for shifting tenses (like in paragraph three,) as that may throw your reader off a bit. And keep the spotlight on Violet – in the last paragraph, when you say “the flower girl grinned against her will,” I thought for a moment we were being introduced to another character.

    In the same vein, I would love another line or two about Violet missing her softball game; she is clearly a fish-out-of-water at this wedding, but what is she like in her normal life?