Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #9

TITLE: Naked
GENRE: YA contemporary

I look into the familiar blank eyes that stare back at me from a Missing Person’s poster. The name reads: Anna Rodriguez.

The name’s familiar, but it’s not me. Not anymore.

I turn away from the innocent thirteen year-old in the poster, with her pony tail and pearls around her neck. Now, I just find myself wondering how much I could cop out of a necklace like that. Three hundred?

Every time I pass this poster I stop and stare at the girl I used to be, but that just brings attention. I’m not allowed to bring attention.

So I keep walking and make a plan to go the long way around Bleecker Street so I won’t ever see my parents attempt at finding me again. A few cars fly past.

I don’t see why my parents are still trying to find me. I’m not their little girl anymore.

You’d think they could at least find a better picture, you know? No one would guess that girl was me. Why not use a picture like that one from Halloween when I dressed up like Cindy Lauper but really just looked like a hooker? That might catch someone’s eye.

I smile at my stupid joke, but know they want to cling to the ideal, pristine daughter they always thought they had. Too bad I was never that girl.


  1. This pulled me in quickly -- love the voice. One tiny suggestion is to ease into revealing that she's looking at herself in the poster. It would create a stronger hook, imho. Maybe like this:

    I look into the blank eyes that stare back at me from the Missing Person’s poster. The name reads: Anna Rodriguez.

    The name’s mine, but it’s not me. Not anymore.

    You show the difference between Then and Now so clearly when she describes her thirteen-year-old self in the photo, and wonders how much money she could cop from a necklace like the one she wore back then.

    I'm heartbroken for your mc, and for her parents. This line slayed me: "I don’t see why my parents are still trying to find me. I’m not their little girl anymore." Then the description of the photo they should have used adds humor and self awareness -- nicely done.

    I am already invested in your mc and would read on to witness how she saves herself.

    Best wishes!

  2. I'm intrigued by this premise! I want to know this character's motivations for how her life has turned out, and why she doesn't want her parents to find her. I wanted to keep reading, so nice job. I think your opening lines are brilliant, because they show the reader an immediate glimpse of who this character is.

    Good luck in the contest.

  3. Overall, I enjoyed this. You draw me in and make me feel for the MC. I'd read more.

    Some suggestions -- In your opening sentence, you have her looking into familiar blank eyes, and then jump to the name. Perhaps stick with the eyes, because the whole scene is one in which she looks at herself - physically, through the poster, and mentally, through introspection. You can drop her name in somewhere else.

    So maybe - I look into the familiar blank eyes that stare at me from the Missing Person poster. The eyes are familiar, but they're not mine. Not anymore.

    It also gets your hook into parg 1 instead of parg 2.

    In parg 3, you might cut 'Now I just find myself wondering' which allows her to just wonder. It makes the thought a bit starker without the preface and gives it more power.

    Perhaps cut parg 4 completely and reword the beginning of parg 5 so the new transition works. You could also cut the 'you know' in the second last parg. Don't address the reader. It takes the character out of her world and lessens the impact of what she's doing/saying/thinking.

    And I think the smile in the last parg doesn't quite work. Maybe she smiles sardonically, or it's only a half smile - something that makes it obvious that this is not a smile of happiness.

    Nicely done!

  4. I've seen this opening before, either here or in other contests, and I think the premise is strong with a pretty straightforward opening. I do agree with the other comment that you might not need to say the name right away from the poster. The eyes are familiar, but not mine etc keeps the impact while the name takes me out for a sec. I think it can be worked in later.

    Nitty gritty: The line "my parents attempt at finding me again" needs an apostrophe: my parents' attempt since it's plural parents and the attempt belongs to them.

  5. The opening pulls me right in. The only suggestion I have is the third paragraph. I think you could cut the part "Now, I just find myself wondering." I think it keeps the reader closer to the MC if you just start the sentence with " I wonder how much I could cop out of that necklace? It just reads a bit tighter.

    You have an intriguing premise and a raw MC that I want to know more about. I'd keep reading :) Great job and good luck!

  6. I agree with the earlier comments regarding the name. It reduces the mysterious life of the MC. However, I'm intrigued by the line "I'm not allowed to bring attention." I want to know why she needs to blend in.

  7. I agree with Meredith. That's the only point I have as well.

  8. At this age, parents are still monitoring the books children read. I'm led to believe at the beginning of this the child has convinced herself it's best to be bad. The messages I'm getting: Lost is good. Parents are a problem. Honestly, I wouldn't want my young daughter to read this book, judging from the beginning, but I know I'm just reading a bit.

  9. I want to know why this girl does not want to be found by her parents and what, or who is keeping her out on the streets. I would read more to find out. I agree with other comments... the smile does not work well for me in this scene. Keep the tension. Also, I wonder why she is just now making plans to go the long way around Bleeker St. when she has been out on the streets and passing the sign so many times before. This seems like an attempt to get in setting, time and place. Perhaps you could save that info for later. Not much more that hasn't already been said, but again, I would definitely read on.

  10. It's absolutely perfect.

    And it's also one of those books I'll never read. I can't cope with books where bad things happen to children.

  11. Holy cow this is amazing. Haunting. The kind of book I'd think about long after I read it--like 13 Reasons Why. I'd just omit the part about her smiling.

  12. Intriguing premise. I would love more buildup before we find out Anna is looking at herself on the poster. With the reveal so early, we lose the chance for suspense in these opening paragraphs. Perhaps once Anna sees the poster, she describes who she thinks the girl in the photo is – an annoying, perfect, goody two-shoes – and then closes with the big reveal.

    Internal comments from the character to herself (“I smile at my stupid joke”) also tend to take your reader out of the story. You might cut that and hone in on the tension Anna feels with her former self. I like how she seems almost disgusted with her past life, but don’t get a good sense of where she is now.