Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #4


Two things I’d like to do right now: lean in and kiss the neck in front of me or reach over and give a tiny choke to the neck on my right. I can’t stop my knee from bouncing all over the place like a Nascar dashboard bobblehead. I’ve been looking forward to last period—and dreading it—all day.

Not having assigned seats in English class is definitely a perk. I super love the days I can sit and stare at the back of Sean Mills’ short brown sexy hair. He’s tall, plays football and the guitar. Which pretty much makes him a triple threat in my book. Using my dad’s police tactic for guessing body size, I’d say Sean’s six foot one, approximately one hundred seventy pounds. Swimming Pool Blue eyes--the kind you shouldn’t look into for more than a few milliseconds because, if he looks back and there’s eye contact, you will drown. That’s why I always try to take the seat right behind him. There’s even something about his ears that get me. They stick out a little--not too much-- just enough to give him character. They make him more accessible, not so perfect. Now, if only I could bask in my semi-obsessive fan-girl antics instead of anticipating the lame ass Prom Court Nomination drama that’s about to ensue. I try to ignore my best friend Kallie whose eyes are practically waving a neon “get ready get set” flag in my peripheral.


  1. I am in love with your opening line! Great voice. I felt the Nascar dashboard line was distracting, unless Nascar somehow relates to this character.

    I loved the swimming pool blue eyes, though not sure that needs to be capitalized. A few of the other descriptions seemed to weigh down this sample.

    The neon flag line was distracting because I found myself pausing to wonder what exactly that would look like. Maybe with this second reference to racing, this is intentional?

    Good luck in the contest!

  2. I need a little more tension here. All her gushing over this boy isn't enough to drive me forward.

    While you've captured the teen voice very well, it needs more conflict and we need to know more about the MC.

    I wonder if the story should start in the next few paras instead?

  3. Nothing happened. A girl sat in her seat and gushed over a boy for 250 words. And the info you've given us about the boy (his physical description) probably isn't even relevant. And by your MC's own words, all she wants to do is bask in her obsession over this boy, which makes me ask - Do I want to spend a whole novel with this girl? The answer is no. There's nothing interesting in her life.

    And then you throw the Prom Court Nomination at us, and you use the word drama, so now I'm thinking maybe there is a bit more to this. But it comes too late. If this was a book, I never would have gotten that far.

    Perhaps reconsider your opening and start with the 'drama.' Once you've pulled the reader in with that, then you can get in her obsession with this boy. But I would suggest you don't do the whole physical description thing in one big block of exposition. Get it in a little at a time.

  4. Agreed! Great voice here. I love the first line too--but started to wonder if it was a vampire story with all the neck fascination--that doesn't match the YA contemporary genre.

    I would also agree that there needs to be more tension here. Maybe moving that hottie Sean Mills down a couple of paragraphs and getting right to the problem would fix it quickly I'm sure.

    Best of luck!

  5. I like the voice, and I don't mind the rambling about the boy for 250 words since the genre and title give me an idea that this will probably have a heavy focus on dating and high school hierarchy. This reminded me a bit of E. Lockhart's The Boyfriend List (I highly recommend any of her books if you haven't read them, esp for writing this type of YA voice.)

    I do agree that setting up some tension soon is key, to show hints of your character's problem. If that can be worked in earlier, even better, a line about wanting Sean as her prom date but x is in the way, or whatever.

  6. I really enjoyed this voice. I'm not a big fan of YA contemporary, but your title jumped out at me, and the voice was strong enough I might read it.

    I actually liked this opening--it felt very real for a teenage girl and you told me a lot about your character in a very short space. Personally, if I had the query in front of me and knew I liked the hook/story conceit, I would read beyond the 250, regardless of lack of tension here. My assumption is you get to your tension/stakes right after this with the Homecoming Court announcement.

    Mostly I am very curious given the title what the book is about!

  7. Your voice here is spot on for a YA girl. My only negative is I don't really know where this is going, since there's no conflict yet (other than impatience perhaps).

  8. I really like the title. I would have liked to learn something about the MC other than a boy obsession. The physical description of the boy is realistic for YA. Although, I don't understand how short brown hair is sexy. Overall, I would keep reading to find out who the MC wants to choke.

  9. I love the voice and the line about being a triple threat. I have to echo what the others have said in that there is no action or conflict in this opening scene. If this scene were later in the chapter, that would be okay, but think about hooking your reader and wanting them to care about the character and read her story.

  10. I do like your opening line, a lot, and I don't mind the gushing over the boy. It rings (very) true to what most of us have done/do when we have a crush. You sit there, obsessing and mooning. That's amore! ;)

    However, I do agree that it would be helpful to add in at least a smidge of tension, to let us know what we're in for and why we should keep on reading.

    In general, though, I think any teenage girl (and older!) would totally be able to relate to your MC and her rambling about the boy she likes.

  11. I would keep reading. The voice held me.

    Is peripheral the right word? It seems like an adjective. Periphery? Not sure


  12. Usually, I'm not into contemporary stories but this one starts with a lovely voice. The only thing I was slightly confused about was the two neck references in the first line. I thought the necks belonged to two different people (one in front of her, the other on her right) and then she went on and on about one person. Don't know how to fix it though. ;-)

    Nitpick: there's a spello in "ears that get(s) me"

  13. What teenage girl can’t relate to daydreaming about the boy in front of her in class? Very believable scenario, but I did need a bit more detail about what the stakes were for your main character. You mention the prom court noms, but it’s unclear how your narrator regards them. She refers to them as lame, but at the same time seems to be nervously anticipating them. A little more context and clarity would go a long way here – does she secretly care about the prom noms more than she lets on? Is her crush involved in a potential date scenario? Who are her rivals?

    I would read on, but would want to know more about your main character outside of her crush very soon after your first 250.