Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #27

TITLE: Taking a Chance
GENRE: YA contemporary

There should have been a manual for these types of situations. If there was, it should have been entitled: how to deal with your father when he went all–out Capulet/Montague on the next door neighbor. Maybe Mr. Shakespeare did write such a guidebook—one he obviously never got around to looking at when he penned Romeo and Juliet.

But I have to say...those fighting fools from the Renaissance century have absolutely nothing on my father and Marcus Faulkner—AKA our next door neighbor.

“I told you both that the next time you let that damn dog crap in my lawn, I was going to tear them out. And according to the shit currently stuck to the bottom of my shoe,” Marcus Faulkner lifted his foot, pointing out the evidence, “your rose bush had no chance at survival today, Parker.”

A vein the size of Mount Rushmore threatened to burst from dad’s neck. Jaw locked, he looked about two seconds away from putting Marcus on death row. “Step. Away. From the bushes, Faulkner.”

Marcus didn’t step away. Instead, he stepped forward, tossing the rose bush at my dad's feet. A knowing, almost righteous smirk splayed across our neighbor’s lips as he folded his arms across his suit-coated chest.

I sucked in a breath, gripping Dad’s arm as the nightmare began to unfold between them. Waiting for the storm of epic proportions to explode in my yard was not how I envisioned spending my Saturday afternoon. Talk about a load of crap—no pun intended of course.


  1. I suggest reworking the first paragraph of dialogue to make it clear right up front who's talking (I'm impressed by anyone who can tear a rosebush out of the ground with his hands.)

    Given the first paragraph, I'm curious to know if the narrator ends up with a crush on the neighbor's offspring.

  2. This is an interesting beginning. I like the comparison to Romeo and Juliet. I'm assuming that there is going to be a relationship between the kids in the two houses. I really want to get a glimpse of the love interest sooner rather than later.

    You do a good job laying out the conflict from the beginning. I am surprised that the neighbor did that--couldn't charges be pressed?

    I'm intrigued and I'd definitely keep reading. Good luck!

  3. Capitalize the words in your manual How To Deal With Your Father When He Went All-out Capulet/Montague On the Next Door Neighbor. And keep the italics.

    Next paragraph, (this is just my personal taste) do not write "But I have to say". No one is talking. Try writing "But I must admit" instead.

    Also, make it more clear where Marcus Faulkner is standing in relation to the father. WHere is the father standing?

    One more thing, please get rid of the swearing. I do not like any swearing in books and people who do not mind it often do not care if there is no swearing.

    All in all, this scene reads really funny! I would love to see it on screen. It seems so funny!! I would be chanting "fight fight fight!".

  4. I really like this! I loved the connection with Romeo and Juliet and the snarky, funny voice. I loved how the neighbor was named Faulkner and wondered if that was another allusion. I don't have anything to add to the above comments. But I would keep reading, just to hear more of this voice!

  5. I like the voice. But, I think she should call the neighbor Mr. Faulker, not Marcus. We can assume with the Romeo & Juliet allusion, that he's her boyfriend's father, so she should call him Mr. And if you're going to bring in the Romeo and Juliet story, you should have Marcus' son standing next to his father holding his arm the same way the MC is gripping Dad's. But, I'd keep reading.

  6. I like the humor in this, but I think the page could be tighter. It has a little bit of the feeling of telling us what's happening (neighbors fighting) and then showing the actual fight. I like the mention of the manual, but I think the first two paragraphs should be better weaved into the action so that we are actually in the scene right from the beginning.

  7. I enjoyed the voice here, and the pacing and humor make the situation seem so dramatic-in a really great way. I like the Romeo & Juliet reference as a set up as well, and would keep reading to see how this conflict directly affects our main character.