Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January Secret Agent #14

GENRE: Contemporary YA

Monday, June 7

I wonder what it would feel like to pluck out my eye. It’s got to be pretty simple. I’d just have to wedge this pen far enough into my eye socket to pry the eye out. There would be a lot of suction, I’m sure. Something behind it would have to rip.

It wouldn’t accomplish anything. I know that. And I’m sure it would hurt like hell. It’s just easier to think about using my pen for that than writing this.

But I don’t have a choice. I mean, that’s why I picked up the pen in the first place. To tell you this.

I’m pregnant. With you.

No one with any medical knowledge has confirmed it yet. But I doubt seven tests of two different brands can be wrong. I’m in my room now, but they’re still beside me. On my desk. Piled like a stack of unused pens from the school year. I’ll have to throw them away tomorrow in the dumpster behind the coffee shop where I work so my parents don’t find them.

I’m supposed to be celebrating the end of junior year, not taking pregnancy tests. Not being pregnant.

I can’t be pregnant. If being late to the dinner table is unacceptable, I don’t know what my parents would call this.

All I know is you’re inside of me. Maybe just the size of a pea. But you’re inside of me.

And I don’t know what to do with you.


  1. Whoa that's a pretty intense start. It made me want to read more, though. At first I thought she was writing to the father until the end when I realized she was writing to the baby. I like that she's writing to the baby, it's different. Maybe I was just slow about the "with you" Anyway, it's a good start. You might spend a bit less time on the eye ripping part but I was hooked.

  2. I really like the format of a journal entry--reminds me of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"-- and hope you continue that technique throughout the manuscript. Though you start with a really vivid image, you really had me when you got to: "I'm pregnant. With you." I was still reeling a little bit from the gross image of ripping out the eye, so I don't think it had as big of an impact as it could. Perhaps you could get to the pregnancy sooner?
    A small detail is that when you say "they're still beside me," it took me a couple of reads to realize you were talking about the home pregnancy tests. Perhaps replace the vague "they" with something more specific. I do like that she's taken so many home tests--does a quick job of showing her denial.
    You do a good job of setting up her fear of disappointing her parents and the ultimate question of what will she do with the baby. Overall, a good set-up and you leave me wanting more. Good luck!

  3. You certainly start with a very vivid image! In that sense, well done! But . . . I have to be honest and say it reads like the start to a book about someone who is mentally ill. I had to scroll back up to the top to make sure it was YA. Everything feels very slow moving, and detailed and planned while I would imagine a teenage girl who has just learned she is pregnant would be on overdrive. Hysterical. Everything moving at a fast clip. Short sentences. Words and images mixed together. Writing a word or two then standing up to pace and then pull at her hair. Poking herself in the eye might be a fleeting thought. I like the line about 'unused pens from the school year.' Makes me sympathetic. She really is still a child herself.

  4. I do like the idea, but I agree with anon 12:52. After her description of gouging her eye out with a pen, the fact that she's pregnant is almost anticlimactic. It is also a disturbing thing to write to your unborn child, which makes me not really like the MC. And it's described in an almost detached way--just seems disingenuous, like it was written to grab the reader's attention. But what comes after is great. I would lose the eye gouging and start with the pregnancy.

  5. I can't decide how I feel about the eye paragraph. I did at first think your protag was mentally ill, but I suppose intense emotional distress is its own kind of mental illness. Maybe a good compromise would be to soften the graphic description-- spend less time describing what it would take to pluck out your eyeball, and just briefly mention that she'd rather use that pen for any number of other things than to write what she's determined to write.

    I like the raw, honest nature of your protag, though. I'm already really sympathetic to her, in spite of the eye gouging. You've done a great job of drawing out what's at stake in a short amount of time.

    Good luck!

  6. I like this. I can picture a distraught girl letting her mind wander to the ridiculous of plucking out her eye.I like that she is writing to her baby - it creates a relationship that I hope continues in the manuscript.
    You give a good sense of the bizarre detachment a person can feel when confronted with not only a personal crisis, but the knowledge that the repercussions from others will also create a crisis.

  7. The first line, and paragraph actually, was a tad off-putting. It’s definitely unique, but I was personally grossed out. The shift to this opening actually being a letter was unexpected. The letter also reads a bit stiff, and I didn’t get that authentic YA voice shining through that I’d expect from a junior in high school—a pregnant one at that, who doesn’t know what to do. I might try and get in her mindset a bit more so it’s not quite as stilted.