Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #25

GENRE: YA spec fic

Choosing what to have for breakfast won’t change my life, but I’ve never been good at making decisions. I drum my fingers on the kitchen counter, staring at the fridge covered in family photos. Waffles or cereal? My stomach growls. Waffles. With strawberries. You only live once. I open the freezer as Drew honks outside. Damn. I don’t have time. Granola bar then.

I shut the freezer and my head swims, blurring the last photo of Grandma in her garden to a blob of blue and green. I blink and shake off the sleepiness, then grab the box of NatureOne bars from the cluttered pantry.

The toaster oven dings. What in the… I go to check. Two toasted waffles sit on the metal rack. Sliced strawberries on a plate.

Mom and Dad are both gone before seven on Wednesdays, and Elliot’s still upstairs. Did I put those in when I first came down? I must be losing my mind. Or somehow Mom? Whatever, they look delicious.

Two minutes, I text Drew. I slide the waffles onto the plate and slather them with butter.

I’m just lifting my fork when my ten-year-old brother walks in. His sun-bleached hair sticks up in the back and he’s wearing his standard outfit of baggy soccer shorts and a random player’s jersey.

“Mmm, waffles. Are there more?” Elliot asks.

I shift my eyes. “In the freezer.”

He glances at the microwave clock, then groans and reaches for the Fruity O’s. He shakes the box. It’s empty.


  1. I think the voice is very strong, and I really enjoyed reading. I was a little confused about how long the MC is making Drew wait. It's got to take some time to eat them, so is he just waiting?

    Anyway, I like it. I'd be interested in seeing how the waffles got there.

  2. I like where this is going. Making the Mundane extraordinary somehow. I like the details, just make sure they mean something and not just there to be specific. (Like the NatureOne box, using specific brands can be distracting unless you want to say something about how she only eats organic granola or something.)
    Just a few other things: stop the Grandma sentence after "in her garden." there's no need to describe a blurred photo. And "grandma in her garden" is a detail, but it doesn't tell us much. Could it be a picture of Grandma bathing the dog in buttermilk?" J/K but you get the idea. Something that will mean something to the reader, and not just generic "family photos on the fridge".
    You were getting close with "a random player's jersey." That suggest her apathy for sports and her negative attitude toward her brother's un-picky worship of the same. (either that or his poser-ness.)
    Nice job. I'd probably read on, just to see what the "speculative fiction" angle is.

  3. I really like the intermittent shorter sentences that add some suspense/dramatics. What should be a rather unremarkable morning breakfast clearly has something suspicious going on, and it's nice to be in the same boat as the narrator in terms of trying to figure out what that is. I'd read on!

  4. There is a whole lot of unnecessary detail on this first page that doesn't advance the story. Do we need to know that he isn't good at making decisions (a tell, instead of a show)? Do we need to see him drumming his fingers and looking at the photos on the fridge? Do we need to know he grabs the box of Nature One bars when he's already said he's having a Granola bar? Do we need to know he slathers the waffles in butter?

    I'd suggest starting with - Waffles or cereal? (cut the 'You only live once' as it doesn't add anything)

    Concentrate on the waffles, as that is obviously the hook, and dispense with a lot of the unnecessary detail - in particular I though it was an odd place to give us such an in-depth description of what Elliott is wearing, and do we need so much detail on what he's having for breakfast. He could come down, look from the microwave to the waffles and groan as he reaches for the box of cereal. Unless the box being empty is important, I'd scrap that too.

  5. Nice job making the mundane part of the MCs' angst. The MC seemed so distracted by the thoughts of what is coming that they forgot to watch what they were cooking. Nicely done.

    One thing you might want to watch is to make it clear what gender your MC is. My guess is that it is female. Don't leave the reader guessing. Even hinting at Drew being a boyfriend would at least make me more certain that the MC is female. You could say that your MC fidgets with her bra because she is nervous or something to make it apparent the MC is female. THis is only a suggestion.

  6. This scene could work (I like the way you use pacing/varied sentence lengths to convey how frazzled the main character is), but I'm not sure if it's the best way to open the story. We get a lot of detail here about the breakfast process, but I was still left with questions about the waffles and a less-than clear idea of what was happening. Ultimately, I'm intrigued, but not quite invested yet.