Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #39

GENRE: YA Fantasy

Of all the ways Ama wanted to spend her last day in New York, attending a party ranked just above cleaning out her ears with a screwdriver. But after days of Delilah begging and pleading, promising she wouldn’t regret it, Ama relented. She owed it to her friendship with Delilah to humor her friend’s idea of fun. Besides, Evan Barasch’s sixteenth birthday might provide a welcome distraction from the dreary mood hanging over her home, and from the life-changing announcement her parents made the previous week.

“Relax. It won’t be that bad.” Delilah punched the fourth-story button in the elevator of Evan’s apartment building. “It’s a bunch of tenth graders hanging out. It’s not gonna be too hardcore.”

“I guess.” The low hum of the elevator drummed against Ama’s ears. Trying to forget that hers and Delilah’s building lay twenty-seven long blocks away, she imagined having fun. There would be things to enjoy about it. There would likely be cake.

But when they knocked on the door and it swung open, unleashing an explosion of head-thumping music, Ama stiffened. Their greeter had a beard. The kind of beard that no hormonally average sixteen-year-old could possess. Beer sloshed around the cup he held in his free hand.

“Who’re you?” Delilah’s Asian eyes alighted with pleasure at the sound of the rollicking adolescents.

“Evan’s cousin! You some of his school friends?” he yelled over the blasting techno. Ama plugged her ears. Evan had promised chaperones on his fluorescently-colored invitations. Hopefully, the beard-bearer wasn’t one of them.


  1. I liked this beginning and I would certainly read on. I have to admit I was a little thrown by the phrase "Delilah's Asian eyes."

    I also wonder where the fantasy is going to come in. I understand it's only the first 250, so I'd be willing to wait, but I'd hope to see at least a hint of the fantastical by the end of the chapter.

    Good job and good luck.

  2. I wouldn't mind knowing why your MC don't enjoy the idea of a party.

  3. I think you can jazz up the first line by saying what kind of party or throwing something else in there.
    I think there are a handful of things I'd personally do to tighten up some of the sentences. Some read a little awkward and I would recommend reading them aloud to see if you agree. (just small tweaks) I.E.
    "But after days of Delilah begging, pleading, and promising she wouldn't regret it..."
    "She owed it to her friendship" line reads awkward w the use of friend twice.
    That being said, I like how right away we are thrown into a party where it's probably not going to go as anyone planned. Love the beard-bearer line.
    I also found "asian eyes" line to be a little too much of you trying to tell us she's Asian instead of using it later on through dialogie or just being straightforward.
    Good Luck!

  4. I love the voice in the first line. It pulled me in immediately.

    Only a couple of issues.

    Like K Callard above, "Asian eyes" threw me a little.

    And this line at the end of the first paragraph: "and from the life-changing announcement her parents made the previous week." This is info the mc knows, so it feels a little like you're withholding important info to create tension, which can be frustrating. Can you state outright what the life-changing announcement is? It will have more impact than this vague statement. Just my opinion, of course. :)

    Overall, I like the voice and it sounds like an interesting story. I'd keep reading. Good luck to you! :)

  5. I loved your opening sentence. It totally rocked! I liked how I felt an instant connection with the Ama. There is tension in the scene with her not wanting to go to the party but I think the part about her parents' announcement should be removed - my opinion, of course. It seems out of place and it seems like withholding important info. Overall, I liked the piece, though. I wish you every success!

  6. Love the first sentence. I do think the rest of the first paragraph needs tightening. I don't think you need to say that it's her friend's idea of fun. The begging and pleading implies that.

    Great description w/ beard guy. Though the way you let us know the friend is Asian feels forced.

    I like her anxiety about the chaperone. It gives us a good idea of who she is. I think maybe it might hit a little harder if instead of worrying that the beer bearing, bearded guy is "one" of the chaperones, instead she worries that he's what is passing for a chaperone.

  7. Ditto Abby and Dawn on the line about the life-changing announcement. And ditto everyone's comments about Delilah's Asian eyes. It's telling at best, slightly racist at worst, and the rest of this page shows me you have the writing chops to come up with something less blatant. (I'm not sure that's exactly the right word, but I can't come up with anything better right now, so I'm going to stick with it:) )

    The first sentence made me instantly like Ama (introverts unite!), but it did take me two tries to read it with the right meter. I think "attending a party" could use one or two more beats--"attending a birthday party," maybe--but that could just be me.

    Also, I'm pretty sure "hers and Delilah's building" should be "her and Delilah's building," since if you cut out "and Delilah's," it still makes sense. Also, I think the end of the sentence about Delilah's Asian eyes could also use some work. "Alighted with pleasure" feels overwritten, and I don't think adolescents generally call themselves adolescents:)

    These are all nitpicks, of course, which just goes to show that you're almost there. Good luck in the contest!

  8. You've set up a good opening - a teen party in New York, Ama's reluctance, her friend's eagerness, and the mysterious bearded guy. It sounds like it's going to be a very interesting party with, presumably, repercussions.

    The first line is good, but I wanted to know what Ama would rather do on her last day in New York. I'm not sure I get why it's her last day, either. Her parents have made a life-changing announcement but you don't say what it is. That they are moving to the suburbs or the desert or something? I think this would be good information to have right away, so we understand what's hanging over Ama in this scene.

    "Delilah’s Asian eyes alighted with pleasure" - I agree this needs to be reworded. "alighted" doesn't sound right in this context. As for "Asian eyes," I think you can establish her ethnicity in a more organic way as the story unfolds. Would Ama really describe her friend's eyes as "Asian?"

  9. I'd suggest cutting the entire first parg and place them in the elevator, and then go on with chapter two. The first parg is all telling, and as we read further, you make almost all that info clear through action and dialogue, which works must better. The only thing you'd be missing is the life changing announcement, which means little if you don't say what it is. Perhaps say what it is and stick that somewhere else, maybe as an ending to your 250 words.

    Cut 'But when' that starts parg 4, which will turn telling and passive into showing and active. ANd cut 'he held' at the end of that same parg.

    ANd everyone has already commented on the Asian eyes sentence.

    I would have liked a hint at the fantasy and would read a bit more looking for it. How soon it appeared would determine if I read more or not.

  10. I'm wondering why a 16 year old is not only not excited about a party, but would rather do anything else than attend. The voice did not suggest social anxiety or asperger's. Unless the MC is older and dreads being dragged to a party for younger people.

    Assuming she is sixteen, I guess that most teens would find it hard to relate to an MC who is so jaded that the word 'party' fails to trigger a sense of expectation. That sounds like an adult. But I guess it's explained in the next 250words.

  11. LOVED the cleaning out her ears with a screwdriver, but felt, overall, that the first paragraph was telling and unnecessary. The important information here (leaving tomorrow and life-changing announcement) could easily be built in further along.

    I like the concept of a sixteen year old who doesn't like loud and uncontrolled parties (reminds me of myself at that age).

    I'm another advocate for "Delilah's asian eyes" doesn't work.

    I'd definitely read on to see where this was going.

  12. I can always relate to a protagonist who doesn’t want to go to a party! I like the concept here, but several things pulled me out of the story. I strongly recommend cutting the phrase “Delilah’s Asian Eyes,” as this comes off as slightly racist and would turn off many readers. If Delilah’s ethnicity is crucial to the opening of the story, try introducing it another way.

    Beyond that, your descriptions and dialogue here feel very formal and a tad old-fashioned – I don’t see typical teenage girls describing a party as “rollicking” or talking about invitations being “fluorescently-colored.” Consider switching to a first person POV for Ama to make the voice more believable, or toning down the descriptive elements.

  13. I'd have liked to know more about the decision her parents made (moving away?) Think this over. Maybe you're starting in the wrong place.