Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Zorya

My name’s Zorya. Mother says I’m named after Zorya Vechernyaya, goddess of the Evening Star. That’s sort of cool.

There were fifteen of us in my classroom that fall—the entire high school senior class population of the Northern California Enclave. And then there was David. Named after David, I guess.

He wasn’t one of us. He was one of them.

I propped my arm on my desk and casually leaned my head on my hand, turning my face a bit to the right. That way, I could look at him without...looking like I was looking at him. Up at the front of the room Madame Stefonia was writing something on the whiteboard, so she probably wouldn’t notice right away that I wasn’t paying attention.

The moonlamps were turned up high so David could see well enough to read and write. Their eyes are really bad—I don’t think they can even see colors at night. On the other hand, I could see him just fine. Unlike me, he was watching the teacher and busily taking notes.

He was blonde, which in a room full of black hair made him stick out like a snowball on an asphalt road. He was almost a year older than me, almost a foot taller, and even skinnier. His eyes were dark brown, which was as weird around here as the blonde hair. His voice had a twinge of accent, Texas I think, and my God, the tan.


  1. The MC has a nice, quiet voice. I like it. The only comment I really have is that on my first reading I thought the second paragraph could be cut some. Do we really need to know there are only 15 kids in the class right at the beginning? Maybe it could come later so you aren't using the precious first lines. But overall, I enjoyed this and got a nice picture of the MC.

  2. This is really interesting. The MC's voice draws me in right away. I would read more.

    I would try to find a way to reword the second sentence in the fourth paragraph so you're not using "look" three times. Also, at the end, you spend almost two entire paragraphs describing David. Too much description at the beginning can bog the reader down. You might want to see if there's a way to break it up - let the details come through later. Maybe have a conversation later about colors at night, something like that. It might flow better.

  3. I wasn't looking to nitpick, so maybe that's why I didn't see anything to change. The voice was perfect. I would definitely read on to find out what makes this guy special and to find out if she's going to snag him. (Cuz let's face it, with a voice like that, I'm already rooting for her.)

  4. I love your MC's voice and how she describes the room and David in such detail that I can picture both. I want to join them in the room and stare at David, too. I also want to know what "one of them" means, which makes me want to read more of your story.

    I'm not sure, however, that I love the first sentence. I want something with more power. I don't know which sentence would work best, but the third paragraph might work. You could put that first and have everything else follow it. In the fifth paragraph, I'm a little confused by the second sentence. You say "their eyes" here, but in the previous sentence you were only talking about David.

  5. I also am drawn in by the MC's voice and want to stare at David.

    I love the snowball on asphalt image.

    I want to read more!

    Keep it up.

  6. I'm not sure about the first sentence. Doesn't quite pull me in. But when I continue to read, I get sucked in by the voice. I love the line, "That way, I could look at him without...looking like I was looking at him." OMG, what girl HASN'T done something similar?

    And the snowball/asphalt line? Great visual!

    I agree that speaking of David in the first sentence of the 5th paragraph and then changing to plural confused me. Just switch second sentence to HIS and HE...all fixed!

    I want to know more about Zorya. Why can she see in the dark? What is she? And why is David the only one different among herself and her classmates? I'd keep reading!

  7. You lost me with the first three sentences. Granted that your MC is totally awesome, get into the action right away with the first sentence or I won't get to see how cool your MC is. Names and back story comes later. Switch the paragraph "I propped up my arm..." with the first paragraph.
    Nice juxtaposition and description with the snowball on the asphalt.
    I think your MC is really attracted to the boy David. And he is obviously unique with his blonde hair so all the other girls want him. And your MC is unique as well so try and make it sound like she is thinking to herself why David should pick her over other girls. Your first three sentences are very powerful if you would use them in a way that make her come across as someone who is trying to stand out from the rest of the crowd so David picks her for a date or a dance or something like that.

  8. I like the voice, but I think the tenses need work. You jump from present ("my name is") to an overview of continuing past events (describing the class) to a specific event in past tense (ogling David), without any indicator as to why this particular moment in time counts, or even from which point in time the narrator is speaking. I will say I don't mind the physical description of David, as long as it's kept brief like this - you've found a good way for a character to actually notice things about another character in a believable way.

  9. There are a lot of great elements here. (I’m already rooting for Zorya, and I really liked the description of David in the last paragraph, to name two.) You really pulled me in at paragraph three, though, and I agree with some of the other comments that playing around with the order of the paragraphs could give you a punchier opening line (and maybe also help clear up the timeline a bit). I'm intrigued!