Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #41

GENRE: YA Fantasy

I get plants, they have guidelines. Sun or shade. Wet soil or dry. Prune them often or leave them alone.

My boss, Frankie, gestures at me from her office window, pointing and waving her arms and basically making it look like she’s lost it.

People are harder.

I adjust my floppy hat to keep the scorching July sun out of my eyes and make for her office. The sweet scent of jasmine embraces me as I pass under a trellis and I inhale deeply. Annuals are nice but I prefer perennials. They have staying power.

“The truck is late,” Frankie says as she slams the phone down. “And the Sveitches will be here any minute.”

As if on cue Mr. Sveitch’s deep voice echoes through the wall, asking for Frankie. He leans against the front counter while a bored-looking Mrs. Sveitch looks down her nose at us when we enter.

I linger in the doorway while Frankie explains.

“I thought the truck would be here by noon,” Mr. Sveitch says. “It’s always here by noon.”

“I know and I’m very sorry. There was a bad accident on the highway and he’s running a few hours late.”

Mrs. Sveitch leans over the counter. “That’s very inconvenient. You could’ve called to let us know. We have obligations too.” She narrows her gaze at Frankie. Her eyes are almost auburn, the same shade as her hair.

“Now, now, Gwen. I’m sure Frankie would have but she’s obviously been very busy today. Right?” He doesn’t wait for an answer.


  1. Love the dialogue and the pace/rhythm of your writing. I also enjoyed how you gave us some subtle clues into the personality of your MC through his/her reflections on the flowers. My only critique would be that I'm unsure as to the role your MC plays in the business, and the Sveitch duo seem to ignore him/her. But maybe that comes in the next few paragraphs :) Overall I enjoyed reading this!

  2. Great start. I love the references to plants and perennials.
    I'm not sure who your main character is. Also, is guidelines the right word? There could be many guidelines/recommendations - but would absolute requirements or similar be better?
    Just a thought.

  3. I like that your MC prefers plants to people. But other than this and a vague connection to a nursery, I'm not sure who she is. I feel like this scene is concentrated on Frankie. I don't know how your MC feels about or reacts to the situation.

  4. I like the opening. The dialogue is paced OK. The bulk of of the opening seemed to focus on Frankie. But, I'm guessing she is not your MC. Did you mention the MC's name?

  5. A few of your sentences are misplaced and don't flow very well. It "trips" the reader and makes it hard to follow.

    a) You are introducing a list so you need a colon after "guidelines" in the first paragraph. Also, place "People are harder..." in a seperate line after the first paragraph because you are trying to juxtapose the simplicity of plants with the complication of people. Then follow up with "My boss, Frankie..." and merge this with "I adjust my floppy hat..." to create one paragraph.

    b) Small nitpick: a smell cannot embrace you.

    c) "...Mrs. Sveitch looks down her nose at us when we enter."

    So your MC and her boss leave the boss' office and enter the front of the shop, right? How can your MC enter anywhere if she's lingering in the doorway?

    I think this would read better if you remove the sentence that states she is standing in the doorway while her boss explains.

    d) You have Mr. Sveitch doing (relatively) the same action twice with the same prop, which is leaning against/over the counter.

    I must admit, for a YA Fantasy not much happens in this opening. I concur with the other laides that you need to focus on your MC rather than her boss. Somehow, I feel this isn't where your story starts.

  6. I may be alone in this but I have the patience to read a few pages of any book before deciding that 'nothing is happening'. I'd read more of this.

  7. The actual writing and dialogue shows promise. But this seems to be all about Frankie, not the MC. In fact, I don't feel like I know the MC at all. Is the MC a male or female, adult or teen? What is her name? I feel like the MC is on the outside observing and isn't part of this conflict at all, which to me isn't very engaging.

    I would prefer to have more observations from the MC, so I can get a feel for the character. Right now this beginning isn't grabbing me.

  8. Completely fabulous opening sentence! I was immediately hooked and would want to read more simply because of the quality of the writing. Good luck!

  9. I enjoyed this up until the Sveitch's arrived. There was something in the tone and voice before they arrived that kept me interested.

    After they arrived, the tone and voice change, probably because now the SVeitch's take over. But there's nothing in their dialogue that holds me. WHat is it they are expecting? Is it, or the Sveitch's, important to the plot, or are they just an obnoxious couple? It just seems to lose something with their appearance. Perhaps find a way to make their appearance matter? (Provided it does.)