Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Secret Agent #20

TITLE: Must Remember
GENRE: Adult Sci Fi/Fantasy with strong romantic elements

No. Wait. F***. 

I rolled onto my back. Damn it. I was late for class, again. And if anyone dared enter after the door closed, well, they were asking for mockery. I so didn’t need that today. Decisions, decisions. Not that there was much of a choice; I couldn’t miss any more calculus. I’d just have to suck it up.

With a sigh, I scrambled up, threw on some jeans and a white t-shirt.

Shoes, where were my shoes. Gah. I ducked and rooted around in the deep, dark spaces under my bed. Hmm, Sarah’s green dress I borrowed. Mental note: I need to return that. English book, various dust bunnies of uncertain lineage…there.

Sketchers on, I grabbed my backpack, turned up my Ipod, and ran out of the door. No time to primp.

Good thing the campus I lived on was tiny. There was a big central courtyard―the quad―filled with oak trees, picnic tables and wide-open spaces surrounded by school buildings and classrooms. If I hurried, I’d make it…

I raced into the quad out of breath, and tugged my headphones out of my ears.


I slowed and turned in a complete circle.

No one around.

Unease skittered through me on soft paws.

The courtyard was always busy.

Not now.

The unnatural silence pressed in on me for a second as the echoes of my steps faded.

Then screams―men's and women’s―poured from Main Street. I broke into a run and shot between the buildings toward the sound.

Cars littered the intersection.


  1. I like your title - makes me wonder what she has to remember. :) And I think you have a pretty good voice going.

    I've often read that editors and agents suggest you don't begin a story with someone waking up. You might want to consider a different way to begin. As for your first line, I don't think you need "Wait".

    The word "mockery" feels odd to me there - maybe you could find a different one.

    I think "Sarah's green dress I borrowed" could be better re-phrased as "The green dress I borrowed from Sarah."

    Once your MC arrives at the quad, I would think she'd first notice no one was around and then take the earbuds out. Maybe move that phrase to after "Not now."

    Good luck!

  2. I think you start here with a pretty good voice, though "mockery" being the punishment for being late seems rather trivial to me. Teenagers are mocked for everything, all the time, so my mind went to "oh no..?" rather than "Uhoh!" which made it hard to care about this process of getting herself ready.

    My other comment is that I'd like a hint of this being something other than contemporary, if not within this first 250 then definitely within the first few pages. Right now, this could be the start to just a mystery or a contemporary romance, so I'm curious where the SF or Fantasy comes in.

  3. I enjoyed reading this. Your MC's voice is clear and distinct.

    I agree with the others about "mockery" as word choice. It doesn't feel quite right for your MC.

    I loved your details about what's under her bed---it quickly tells us what kind of a friend she is, that she's a bit sloppy, the type of books etc. These are great quick details, well delivered. Well done. *tips cap*

    I really want to know what college this is set at!

    Best of luck to you.

  4. I was very intrigued by the end. The first line confused me. Who is your MC saying wait to? or about? I think you could take it out.

    Then the paragraph about what the campus looks like seems like forced description. Could you say what happened first (the silence) and then put in the description and be more detailed about what it looks like with the people and how it is different without them?

    Hope this is helpful.

  5. The POV is really really close to your MC. I usually find that a turn off, but your voice is strong and it works in general.

    I'm not a big fan of using one sentence paragraphs too often. Especially too often in a row. You're going that a lot here and it can lose its impact of overused.

    I do want to know what happened!!

    And I will echo the I hear opening with your MC waking up can be a turn off. But I think it needs to happen here, if she is supposed to miss something BIG.

  6. Based on both the title and the first 250, I get a feeling the MC has some executive functioning deficit--ADHD or something. It's used to add voice very well. Based on that, I have a suggestion for what is my favorite line of yours: "various dust bunnies of uncertain lineage."

    To me, dust bunnies all have pretty much the same lineage. But what if it wasn't dust bunnies she notes, but a food item, maybe something like, "two slices of mushroom pepperoni of uncertain lineage." Leaving dirty dishes and half-eaten food around your room is very ADHD. And, it even suggests that, depending on the lineage, she still might consider eating it (adding to your character's personality). Just a thought.

  7. Love the tight pacing here. You could maybe condense the part about being late right at the beginning.

    Is this adult? The voice and situation seem firmly YA to me.

  8. It really gets tedious reading ms after ms after ms where we watch the MC wake up and get ready for *whatever* on the first page. And half the time they're late. You could probably start in the middle of the action, like at "Screams--men's and women's--poured from Main Street."

  9. While I personally don't mind waking up scenes, I know it's a big no-no for agents. I do love the voice in this, though. It does seem a bit YA.

  10. Thanks! I don't know if we are supposed to comment on our own entries. The MC is 19. I have pared it down to start on the Damn it.

    In the past, I was told I needed something to show the normality before I get right into the action otherwise they don't get a good sense of the character before she goes through what will end up being a really bad day. =P

    Thanks so much for your comments! Have adjusted it.