Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #10

TITLE: His Game, Her Rules
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Our neighbor was possessed. I had no other explanation for his behavior as I stood barefoot before him in my front yard. Mr. Faulkner's cheeks were stained red, his lips were curled in an evil snarl. The faint smell of roses lingered on his skin in the open breeze. Patches of dirt, grass, sweat and pink petals were smeared in the crevasse on his hands.

Obviously the man also had a death wish.

“You stupid son of a—” My dad flew forward from my right, hands outstretched and ready to swing. Panicking, I reached for his shirt, and shoved him behind me, wincing as he stepped on my bare toes.


I sure as heck wished there was a manual for these types of situation. If there was, then it should’ve been called: How to Deal with Your Father When He Goes Crazy on His Arch Enemy.

Mr. Faulkner threw up his hands, taking a step back—a disgusting smirk plastered on his lips. “What? I told you both before that the next time you let you damn dog crap in my lawn I was going to cut those rose bushes out. And according to the shit currently stuck to the bottom of my shoe—” He lifted his foot, pointing out the evidence. “—those things had no chance at survival today.”

I sucked in a breath, staring wide eyed at my father’s profile. The super huge vein in his neck pulsed beneath his skin, threatening to burst from anger.



  1. Though I loved the opening line, I didn't end up with a strong sense of where the story was going. Granted, 250 words isn't a lot to go on. The narrator sounds pretty mature, so I'm assuming she's 17 or so or is perhaps mature for her age -- since she spends a lot of time trying manage her dad. I'm not sure if it's enough yet to keep me reading.

    I spotted one typo: crevasse for crevice.

  2. The first paragraph really catches my attention- why is this man destroying roses? I also like your idea of the manual.

    I think that you could get rid of the also in the death wish sentence. It would be more impactful without it.

    The passage makes me wonder why Mr. Faulkner and the narrator's father are arch enemies. I'd read on to find that out.

  3. I stopped to write this first comment after the first three paragraphs, not understanding the situation. You mention the neighbor's behavior, but then only describe his appearance. Then the MC--we don't know if it's a boy or girl--grabs a lunging father by his shirt and shoves him behind for some reason yet to be explained.

    Okay, now I've read the rest. Maybe the neighbor could wave the pruning shears around in the first paragraph. And it seems like the MC DID have an explanation for the neighbor's behavior. There's definite tension, for sure! I like the manual title.

    I think the reader ought to know if the MC is male or female.

    You can't have one crevasse on two hands. Did you mean crevasses or crevices?

    I'd use another expletive for the first crap. Or you might say: Crap. In more ways than one.

    Might be more effective to say "... cut your precious rose bushes down." let youR damn dog ...

    "those things had no chance at survival today” is a odd way of saying it.

    "staring wide-eyed at my father’s profile" I thought Dad was behind him/her.

  4. You definitely bring Mr Faulkner and the MC's Dad to life, and there are some cool images - like Mr Faulkner with his cheeks stained red from the roses. There's also some nice humour, embedded in a fairly tense situation. But, as the conflict revolves around Mr Faulkner and the Dad, I don't get a strong sense of who the MC is.

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  6. I thought it was an interesting scene, and nicely done, but this is YA, and thewhole opening is about 2 adults. While I know things now about Dad and Mr. Faulkner, I don't know anything about the MC.

    Is the MC male or female? (I felt female.) ANd what's his/her story? Perhaps give us an opening that has something to do with that.

  7. Thanks for the crits, everyone. I love having any and all eyes to help me with this beginning. I've already revised based on your feedback.

  8. I love a story that starts with a strong opinion! It immediately makes me ask why, and I have to read on to find out. I would nitpick if I had read this slowly and carefully--but I read it as a reader, and that meant I simply raced on to see what would happen next. I'd keep reading.

  9. I have to agree on the two adults thing; with YA you want your YA character as the main focus. Perhaps if the fight was between your MC who is on yard clean-up duty and then they are mad at the neighbor, that would work. However, is this scene in particular crucial to the story?

  10. This is a dramatic opening, but watch out for typos. Do you mean "crevasses" plural at the end of 'graph 1? Also, it needs to be "this type of situation" or "these types of situations" in 'graph 5, and "let your damn dog" instead of "let you damn dog" below.

    Perhaps let us know earlier that Dad is nearby. His appearance is so sudden and jarring, and the second line suggests the MC is alone with Mr. Faulkner in the yard.

    Consider breaking up line two into two sentences; it reads a bit wonky as is. Maybe "I had no other explanation for his behavior. I stood barefoot before him in my front yard. Mr. Faulkner's cheeks..." instead?