Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #49

TITLE: Tag, You're Dead
GENRE: YA Thriller


Friday, 8:00 PM

“I can’t choose,” Brandy Inkrott said. “I want to kill them all.”

“Tag,” her mother said from her brocaded antique chair. “You want to Tag them all.”

“No. I don’t.”

“Either way,” her father said, “I’m afraid you have to pick one.”

Brandy studied the images of the teenage girls on the screen. Brunettes. Blondes. Asians. Hispanics. Light-skinned. Dark-skinned. Every one of them gorgeous. Every one of them middle-class. No-names. None of them like her. “They’re all so perfect. Can I pick more than one?”

A woman’s voice pierced the air, emanating from Surround Sound speakers. “The price for two would be extravagant, Ms. Inkrott. Plus, Tagging more than one Runner would be difficult. Almost impossible.”

“I don’t care. I can do it.”

Her father shrugged. “If that’s what you want.”

“I suggest this,” the woman said. “Play this time with one. If you are successful you may play again, and then you can go after two. I know it’s tempting when you see all those beautiful faces, but you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment.”

“What do you know?” Brandy said. “You’re probably some fat old lady in a trailer park somewhere. I could Tag you.”

Silence sizzled over the speaker.

“I’m sorry, Madame Referee,” Brandy’s father said. “She didn’t mean it.”

“Did so,” Brandy said.

“Bran, honey, please.”

The girls’ faces on the television disappeared, replaced by only one, which took up the entire surface of the eighty-inch screen. The woman shown there was incredible.


  1. I really like how the tension between Brandy and her parents takes center stage while the more ominous issue of dying/tagging/playing unfolds.

    Nice tone and dialogue. I'm anxious to become grounded in the setting (soon) so I can better get my bearings, but this is a great first page.

  2. i found this opening jarring. she wants to kill the girls, but mom says she should tag the girls, and then Brandy says she wants to tag them all - as if tag is the same thing as kill. but then it sounds like tag a good thing for her. so without any other information, i was left wondering the whole time if kill was sarcastic (which i didn't get when i read it the first time) or if something else was going on. as another commenter said, i felt ungrounded, too.

    i realize that people picking up a book would read the inside flap, not just start with chapter one, but from what i have here, i'm not sure what's going on.

  3. This is interesting. I'm not sure what's going on. I assume tagging and killing are the same thing? Tagging to see if she can kill them. They sound like terrible people. I don't know of I want to spend the whole book with them, but they feel like well-defined characters. There's definitely a lot of tension in the air, and I would read another few pages probably before I made up my mind. Curiosity will propel me forward. I'm uneasy in a good way. :)

  4. This introduction hooked me from the start. The desire to know what's going on and to understand the context of this story pulled me right through the snippet. I'm intrigued by the choice Brandy's having to make, and I want to read more to find out what 'tagging' really is. I'm also curious about why she's so interested in the beautiful people.

    I was really intrigued by the idea that the person on the other end of the line was also (implied) beautiful, and I would have kept reading to see what decision the main character made. You've got me hooked, and I really want to know what happens next. The fact that the person on the other end of the line revealed herself, especially if that makes her a target, made me want to know her motivations. I suspect we'll be seeing multiple point of views through the story, given the subtitle at the beginning of the scene.

    I loved that you didn't directly tell us what anything is, but that you set up context clues and hints throughout the piece. My only qualms, personally, is that I'm not sure about the title, and that I'm not sure if 'surround sound' needs to be capitalized. Might be... but that's the only thing that threw me for a loop.

    If the rest of the story is as interesting as this, then I really hope it gets picked up. As it is, I'm left wanting to read more.

  5. I want to know more about this world before I read dialogue. I like the premise though!

  6. For me, this was an epic WIN--one of those rare openings that has me hooked from the first sentence. I'm envious!

    I'm further intrigued by words like Tag and Runner. It struck me as having some science fiction/ world-building in it and that is totally my cup of tea.

    "None of them like her" further lured me in.

    Great dialogue.

  7. This was a fast-paced, intriguing read. The first line is excellent and immediately engages me.

    In terms of criticism, I think your writing could be tighter if you eliminate some of your dialogue tags and replace them with action to indicate who's speaking. So more of: Her father shrugged. "If that's what you want." Versus: "if that's what you want," her father said. He shrugged.

    The other thing you might want to look at is making brandy a little more sympathetic in the opening passage. We have to like her/want to learn more about her and the killing I can accept, but the killing plus her response to the woman, which sounds really bratty, is a bit of a turn off. I think humanizing her a little in the opening would do you wonders!

    Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  8. I like the opening. It definitely pulled me in. The interaction and tension between Brandy and her parents is well done.

    I would like a little more about the world in the early paragraphs to ground me in time and place, and a little something to interest me in the main character. For someone who is looking to kill someone, I need to be able to find a way to connect with her.

    Overall, well done!

  9. I like that the last sentence ended with the word incredible because at first, it makes me think beautiful, but then maybe not. That left me wanting more.

  10. Love the opening sentence! But the rest reminds me of the car accident scenario by the Authoress - I don't know enough about the characters or what's going on - to care. And I'm not sure knowing more about a teenage girl who wants to kill instead of tag - or her dreadful parents - is going to make me care more.

    This is only the first 250 words -your obnoxious teenager may be gone in the 251st.

    The situation is interesting. A bit more information help seeing it.

  11. Intriguing and creepy premise! If I'm understanding right, tagging is the same as killing? (I'm reading a little into the title for that understanding.)

    I like how her father is apologizing for her, but she's intent on digging herself deeper into trouble by arguing with his apology. She's tough. "...gorgeous...middle class. No names. None of them like her." I am SO intrigued by this. Does that mean Brandy doesn't have any of those things in common with the girls?

    The fact that she's hoping to tag/kill girls, as many as possible, though, makes me feel a little creeped out. This is a good thing, definitely, but if the book is multiple POV, maybe there's a more sympathetic character who could do the opening pages, with a bridging conflict of their own? The writing is strong, and if you start with a character everyone will love, it can only propel this book further into success.

    Well done, and good luck!

  12. This totally creeped me out. Seriously.

    But there's humor here, too, and I really like that. Inkrott? Hilarious.

    I definitely want to know why she wants to destroy all these girls and has such an attitude toward all of it.

    But it's still creepy to the point I'm not sure I could handle it.

    Good job and good luck.

  13. I hate to be the devils advocate here, but with the killings happening in real schools around the country, this story really scares me.

    On the other hand your writing is spot on and perfect, as is the tone etc...

    Good luck with your project. I just don't know how I would handle it if some kid decided to be a copy-cat and kill/tag people and then refer to a novel....

  14. I'd read more, but I would like to know a bit more about where they are. In their living room? I sense that they're in some kind of theater space with dark wood paneling on the walls and a few chairs like the one Mom is sitting in.

    My imagination conjured up a warty, rail thin woman with dead eyes for the moderator/judge character, but hey at least people are intrigued enough to try to visualize her. Good job.

  15. There's definitely a hook here. I like the bits of world building you're setting up. I want to know more about these Runners and Tagging and why it's nearly impossible to tag more than one. And I'm wondering why it matters that they're beautiful. So you're creating mystery that makes me want to read more.

    The opening is a bit dialogue heavy, and I don't know much about Brandy yet, but in 250 words, you can only do so much. However, it's something to consider because the reader has to care about a character in order to care about what happens to that character. My only other concern is the last line. "Incredible" is kind of a lazy word here. Incredible how? I can't "see" incredible in and of itself. Considering the setup in the previous sentence, some striking physical detail would be a better choice here.

    Overall, though, I like it. And I'd read more if given the opportunity.

  16. I get that you want to 'jolt' the reader, but i dont care about the MC yet. And how about a brief visual of the parents to give something for the mind's eye to see? You can still make it tense without having to use 'kill' in the first line.

    She sounds like a pyscho, and though she may not be, its hard to tell. Not very sympathetic.

  17. Very creepy and intriguing! I’m not connecting with Brandy because she wants to kill not just one, but two people, however, I’m very curious about this world, enough that I’d read on to learn more. I don’t think that I’d stay connected to a story about a character that seems as unlikable as Brandy, but perhaps she’s not the main character? Definitely interesting!