Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #42

TITLE: If Life Were Fair

It starts on a Monday. The End of My Life.

So here I am, doing nothing, AKA shopping in the women’s section of JC Penney with my mom, who’s still a child at heart when it comes to fashion.

“Look, Bernie,” she says, holding up a shirt. “Doesn’t this bring out my eyes?”

“What doesn’t?” My mom has these great, big blue eyes that are always smiling. “Why don’t you try it on?” I suggest.

“Wait.” She disappears and returns with the same blue shirt. “We should be matching! Here, try on yours, too.”

I take it, internally groaning. Ew. It’s a bright, floral blouse in that all-the-rage see-through style—chiffon they call it. Totally not my thing, but to make her happy, I head over to the fitting rooms.

“Just in and out,” I mutter to myself, stepping over piles of clothes on the ground.

I hate fitting rooms. My mom thinks I’ve gotten over my mirror problem, but I haven’t truly. And I don’t plan on telling her anytime soon. Part of strength is keeping certain issues to yourself. Else, this world would be a big spew-pot of everyone’s problems.

In my haste to avoid seeing myself in the mirrors, I forget to do the whole Peek-Under-For-Feet stint. The first door I come to opens easily. I start to enter.

Well, hello naked person.

“What the hell?”

It slips out my mouth before I even have a chance to process the situation.


  1. I really like how you set up the conflict, it's subtle, but there nonetheless and that subtly draws me in to want to know more. Well done.

    One note is to change the beginning sentence that starts with the word "Else," It just sounds a bit awkward when read aloud.

    Best wishes!

  2. I really like the interaction between the MC and her mom. This is well done, and I would love to read more.

  3. This has a strong voice, and the interaction between the MC and her mother feels very realistic.

    I'd like to know why the MC avoids mirrors. It feels like you're being a little too coy when you throw that out there without explaining it.

    Same thing when she walks in on the person in the changing room. What sparks the "What the hell?" reaction? I'd like to see what the MC sees before she speaks.

    On the whole, though, good job.

  4. I agree with Rebecca about clarifying a bit before the "What the hell" remark. But I seriously laughed out loud when I read, "Well, hello naked person." How funny would it be if she mumbled that instead of thinking it?

    Good job. Best written wishes to you.

  5. I feel like I have a good sense of who she is, and even what she looks like already. I feel like the ending needs a bit more context. I think it would be stronger if you just came out and said that there was a naked old woman, or even a naked old man! In the dressing room when she opens it, instead of just saying naked person. The line "hello naked person" has the pontential to be really funny, but naked is broad. It could just be her mom in there for all I know.

  6. I really like this. You start off strong and pull the reader in.

    I was curious as to why she has an issue with mirrors, but I like that you don't immediately explain. IMO, a good book makes the reader wait for an answer.:) And honestly, who always loves looking at themselves in the mirror when trying on clothes? Or when your a teenager? So I think many readers will relate to that.

    I was fine with the "hello naked person" line. Bu after I read Krystal's comments above, I think you can make it stronger. Perhaps, "well, hello saggy boobs" or "old lady butt." Might be evil and not really your thing, but a bit more descriptive. I am curious who she walks in on.:)

  7. Great voice. Totally teenager-y but also sympathetic - I liked the narrator immediately.

    In the "I hate fitting rooms..." paragraph, I feel like you could take out this sentence: "And I don't plan on telling her anytime soon." to improve the flow.

    I adore the "Well, hello naked person" line... I'm on the fence about whether or not it would be even funnier if she said it out loud instead of "What the hell?" Then again, if she has this sort of internal monologue running throughout the story that could work too.

  8. Indeed! I agree with all of the above. The voice is strong and inviting, the character sympathetic.

    Good luck!

  9. I loved this! I was drawn in immediately. I love the character's internal conversation.
    I think "Else" can be replaced with something less awkward.
    I'm really curious who is in the dressing room. I am very curious about why she hates mirrors, but I think that is something I can learn later in the book. I am left wanting to know the characters better and I would definitely keep reading.
    Hello, naked person and what the hell.
    Great job!

  10. The story should start with the line that begins, "In my haste." Just mention that it's a fitting room door and you can go on from there. It's a much better starting point, and you can add any necessary information from the previous sentences later.

  11. The “end of my life” line right from the start is great, because it peaks the reader’s curiosity wondering if this is an exaggeration, a literal statement, etc. and why this is the end. Then when we read the next sentence, we realize this is just a teen being dramatic shopping with her mom—something that is authentically teen and relatable. We like the voice of this opening, but are confused by the last paragraphs. Is this a woman’s fitting room? Are we supposed to be horrified by this sight or is the main character interested? We don't know.

  12. My thought is that 'the end of my life' is due to whoever she's seen in the fitting room.

    You could cut the - I hate fitting rooms - parg, because it stops the story so you can explain. You can show us her reluctance to look at herself in mirrors when it actually happens.

    I thought you could cut the "What the hell," and instead, let her say "Well, hello naked person" aloud, or if you keep it, have her say 'what the hell' first, then think "well hello naked person,' because, in the order it's in now, we already know it's a naked person, so there's no sense in asking what the hell. She's already aware of the situation.

  13. You have a great first line! I was hooked right away with it. Not knowing the genre, and just the age range, I wasn't sure what was coming next, and I didn't expect it to be in a fitting room! lol

    Love the interaction with her mother. Voice comes clearly through this entry, but I was hoping to see more action. (that first line teased me!) Who was behind that door?

    Good luck with this manuscript! I wish you the best. :)

  14. I love the voice in this! The end of my life quip is great, and the attitude definitely sounded NA. The only thing I was wondering is whether your MC is interested or disgusted by the naked person, and whether this is a woman's or co-ed changing room. But I would definitely be curious to find out. :)

    Good luck!