Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #22

TITLE: The Girl Inside His Head
GENRE: YA Fantasy

“There’s a girl inside my head?” Kurtis knocked his fist against his skull. Naturally, he didn’t have a doorbell hanging around his head to press. So he had to tap his cranium gently, being very careful not to upset his unexpected guest. She was in his head after all. No telling the damage the girl might cause if Kurtis startled or angered her. The boy politely asked aloud, “Excuse me—um, who are you?”

Kurtis, you must pay attention to the sky and the wind,” answered ‘the girl inside his head.’ “When the stars bleed out. The Watching will begin.”

Kurtis held his heart. He felt a warmth inside him. Powerful and comforting. This Heat crackled deep within his chest like tiny embers ready to start a new fire. It simply needed the right fuel.

“Forget it,” Kurtis grumbled. “It’s not real. There’s no girl inside my head. Need to focus.” The boy shook his head, shoving out the female phantom’s warning. He had more important business to deal with. Kurtis sealed his eyes shut. He recited, “Words mean nothing in the world of dreams. The only thing that matters is power. Power turns dreams into reality.”

Kurtis chanted the lesson again. He stopped once he was certain he remembered every word perfectly. He didn’t really know why perfection was necessary. It was all because of the Heat. The Heat within his heart burned, demanding him to learn everything about dreams. And the more he dove into dreams, the stronger the Heat burned.


  1. I like the concept and the opening line, but his reaction and the subsequent dismissal felt false. The whole first page was muddled, like you were trying to fit too much in. Start with a strong character and add a touch or two of the "special" that will hook us. As it stands, I wouldn't have the patience to read on.

  2. So, while the set-up here generally interests me, I spent much of this a little more confused than I would've liked. By starting with magic, as opposed to something more mundane, I need far more details than I normally might in order to feel grounded in the world. My main suggestion would be to slow down, take more time with this, more detail--try to tackle a little less all at once, maybe. There are a number of unfamiliar magical processes introduced all at once, and it's hard for me to take in.

    As it stands, because I don't really know how your magic or your world works (I'm honestly not even sure if this is an alternate world or our world), I'm left with a lot of questions--and not the kind that would make me read on.

    Examples of my questions: What is the point of rapping his skull because the girl is inside? Is there a point? Could he not just think to her in greeting instead?

    How did the girl get there? Did he deliberately invite her in, or is this something unexpected? There's no reference to having invited her in that I can see, and the way he immediately dismisses her as unimportant says maybe he didn't. But if it was unexpected, I don't understand why he's not more surprised or frightened. Is this a normal thing in his world?

    I don't know what his "more important business" to deal with is. I don't understand what the chant is that he's doing or what it will accomplish with regards to his dream walking (?). The question mark is because I don't really understand the quick bit about what he's doing in dreams and the Heat at the end either.

  3. I'm sorry, but I don't understand what is going on here. Openings need to ground the reader; where, when, who. Even fantasy must establish a place and time.

    There are also some curious statements without information to help readers understand them.

    o 'Kurtis held his heart.' Literally held it, or stopped it from beating?

    o '...embers ready to start a new fire.' Was there an old fire? What happened to it?

    o 'Kurtis sealed his eyes shut.' Is sealed the correct word? How did he seal them and with what? Or do you mean he closed them?

    o 'The Heat within his heart burned...' Is this somehow related to holding his heart? If so, mention it in the earlier paragraph so we can better understand the connection.

    o How does the Heat demand something? Why would he follow the demand if it burns hotter in his heart? (Assuming hotter is uncomfortable for him.)

    This opening is quite choppy, perhaps introducing too many elements before the basic story is established. Consider backing up a little and set the stage to orient the reader.

  4. Your first paragraph is excellent - you're setting up a witty, funny paranormal YA, and I'm excited to find out what kind of paranormal twist you're using. (I.e. is there physically a girl in his head, or a girl's consciousness, or a girl trying to take over his body, or is someone just teasing him that he secretly thinks/acts like a girl?)

    It falls flat for me after that, though. The girl is all telling and no showing - we get no idea who she is or why she would even care enough to deliver a message. Your premise may be interesting, but I don't see enough of it to know for sure :-\

  5. A girl in the main character’s head is certainly a hook, but for the concept to be effective in really pulling me in, I'd need a little more context to feel grounded here. I’m not sure I understood this concept of the Heat and how it relates to his lesson, and I had a tough time following his reaction to the girl. Answering some of these questions and establishing the basics we need to know about this world to follow along with Kurtis will make for a much stronger opening.

  6. I agree about trying to establish the basics of the story. Maybe if we knew if this was a fantastical world, real world, or whatever, the reader could be more invested in the story. Try to establish a sense of setting, even if it is only one or two sentences.

  7. I'm confused here. The concept seems interesting to me, but the opening doesn't flow well. The opening question and following sentence felt wrong together. I see you're setting up the story, but I don't get a clear feel on what type of story it is, or where it is going. Maybe push some of the back story later on.