Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #20

GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

For all I knew, I could be anywhere: a goat pen, a ski gondola, backstage at the San Francisco Ballet. This is how all my days begin. Once I even woke up the men’s room of a nightclub, which is several kinds of unfortunate when you’re a fifteen-year-old girl.

This time, my first clue to my location was the smell of mildew — and a girl’s voice, close by.

I opened my eyes. I lay curled on the floor of a garden shed, between a dusty leaf blower and a barrel of cobwebby rakes. The girl’s trembling voice drifted in through the half-open window. Was she… swearing?

Yes. Yes, she was. At first experimentally, then with more confidence and passion.

This could be awkward.

I stood to peek outside. All at once, wings exploded into a wild, breathy flutter. A bird knocked a flowerpot off a shelf, buzzed my head, and swooped out the window. The cursing outside broke off. I held my breath.

The door flew open. Framed in it stood a girl about my age, with flyaway brown hair and freckles across her nose.

Her eyebrows lifted. “What are you doing in my shed?”

I’m used to lying, after three years of it. But this one was tough. Every excuse I could think of was stupid.

Oh, is this your shed? I thought it was my uncle’s shed. Weak.

I’m doing a research project for school... on sheds... Even worse. And besides, it was summer.


  1. What a fun opening. I enjoy her being on the inside of a shed. I like that I don't know exactly what her power/ability is but have an idea that she has little control over what happens to her (Quantum Leap?).

    I don't think you need "This is how all my days begin." The surrounding sentences lend to that nicely without being so explicit.

    I think you could give more description of the men's nightclub--a detail or two--to make that image more hilarious.

    "what I think was a garden shed" could make it even more evident she doesn't know for sure where she is.

    "Oh, this is your shed?" is strong and funny without the rest of the sentence. The summertime excuse doesn't work as well for me.

    All in all, well done. I want to read more to find out what adventures she has in store.

  2. very nice opening. but once the girl opens the door, i'd like to see the dialogue play out faster and snappier, as it would in real life, with less thinking about what to say.

  3. The opening paragraph is particularly strong, with her voice right up front--that list of locations is awesome. And "This is how all my days begin." I actually missed that sentence on my first read (reading fast)...possibly put it in its own paragraph, to set it off more?

    The bird "buzzing" her head made me stop, because I'm not sure how that's possible.

    I like her thinking about possible responses, because they're funny, and it sets up an enjoyable exchange.

    Good luck!

  4. WIN! Here's another opening that has me jealous. Fantastic voice. I was hooked from sentence one. Your opening paragraph is brilliant.

    This is well-polished. None of the words feel like they can be cut to me. Nice description.

    The line about it being her uncle's shed is priceless.

    I would keep reading for sure.

  5. This is wonderful! I am a fan. It's funny and anxious and interesting and different. I wouldn't change a word. Love it.

  6. I like the voice you have. I agree with Ms. B above. I would separate the first paragraph to make more emphasis on "This is how all of my days begin." Great job!

  7. I really enjoyed this! Funny and unusual in just the right amount; this leaves me with questions, so I want to read on, and the voice is strong and compelling so I care about this character already – this is just what you want an opening to do! Nice work!

  8. I really liked this. The opening is set up well without going info-dumpy. I agree with the comment on another detail on the men's nightclub, just a few really specific words or where she was in the nightclub, can set your tone and voice really well.