Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Morrow
GENRE: YA Romance

Repeating her family’s grocery list to herself, Imani paused just enough to blink before stepping through the sliding glass doors of the grocery store, thanked whatever Achiever invented air conditioning, and then commandeered the cleanest looking cart. Technically the shopping wasn’t for her family per se. The Andersons were definitely nice people, but in no way were they her biological relations because she didn’t have any. That’s how it went with Orphans.

Seventeen year old (possibly young, depending on who was looking) Imani was well-versed in their split-level society. At the tender age of five in her first Complex, the teachers had repeatedly stated the differences between them and other children, the kids who didn’t have to wear bracelets 24/7, should they have any questions. Indisputable Rule Number One: They were not, and would never be, Achievers.

Achievers had parents, lived in immaculate houses with said parents, and attended completely different schools which permitted them to have grand jobs. Orphans could only look upon such luxury. In second grade, when Imani raised her hand to ask exactly why that was, her teacher paused the class, looked her dead in the face, and repeated with unblinking, unemotional, stone-faced sincerity that was because she was not, and would never be, an Achiever. And that was that. She was smart enough never to ask the question again.

By ten, Imani knew that sometime in the next three years there was a chance she’d be assigned to an Achiever family who needed ‘assistance’.


  1. It sounds like you have an interesting premise here. I'm thinking the genre is more than straight Romance. Dystopian maybe?

    I really like the line about the air conditioning. :) I have the feeling there is quite a bit of telling going on within the first page. It might be a good idea have her begin doing more actions and to sprinkle the fact that she's an Orphan in within the first few pages, and some of the meaning of being an Orphan. Like maybe it could happen while she's shopping and people notice her bracelet, or something. Good luck with this!

  2. I like how we are immediately shown that the MC is already facing difficult odds based on which "class" she belongs in this society. Reminds me a bit like Hunger Games. Although I did keep reading, there's quite a bit of telling which I think can be peppered farther in the story. The term "split-level" is a bit distracting since it is most commonly used in architecture. Perhaps a term like "caste"? This has my curiosity piqued; it already feels like a big story. I would definitely read the rest! Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Found it intriguing the certain words you capitalized: Achiever, Orphans, Complex. as it gives me a sense that Imani has a very different perspective of society than normal. That said, I'd like to see a little more conflict at the beginning than backstory. Maybe sprinkle some of the background, which does seem relevant, later and focus on her in the grocery store.
    Best of luck!

  4. At first, I wondered if "Orphans" was a typo, then I read on :)

    I'm with Laura Rueckert about the genre. It feels the society is more Sci-fi/Dystopian based on the first 250 words. I'm sure romance is a huge part, but there may be a more prevalent genre (the bracelets the Orphans have to wear, the fact that there are Orphans and Achievers, etc).

    For the line" her teacher paused the class, looked her dead in the face, and repeated with unblinking, unemotional, stone-faced sincerity that was because she was not, and would never be, an Achiever." I think might do better if you got rid of "unblinking" and "unemotional" because the "stone-faced" sincerity conveyed the cold, hard truth to me.

    I'm intrigued to read more about the society and how Imani's life "assisting" a family works.

  5. Definitely agree that this feels Dystopian so far. I'm also inclined to agree that we don't have enough anchoring us to the protagonist right at the beginning-- too much backstory. We need to care about Imani before we'll be interested in hearing much about her world. So maybe you could space the backstory and worldbuilding throughout some more immediate action at the beginning, and introduce your conflict along the way?

    It sounds like an interesting premise, though! Good luck!

  6. This is such a lively, fresh, well-written opening! Real talent here :-) I love the way you begin to introduce this society through Imani’s eyes, through her experience as an Orphan. It seems as if she doesn’t want to follow the rules and will be getting into some trouble.

    The writing was so well-done, I just have one little suggestion. In the sentence: “At the tender age of five in her first Complex, the teachers had repeatedly stated the differences between them and other children—” you begin with the pronoun “her” and switch to “them.” After reading it three times, I had to assume “them” was a reference to Orphans, but that’s not clear. Just a little thing, really.

    I felt the stakes could be raised by creating more tension around her wanting to be an Achiever and being denied the opportunity. The matter would be made clear if in that last sentence, she sets her sights on taking the position that, in a purely unacceptable way, is going to be her doorway to being an Achiever.

    Well done! And all the best with your wonderful writing.

  7. The first paragraph was more intriguing than the rest of the sample, because at the second paragraph it shifted into info-dumping and trying to relay too much information on the first page in a non-organic way. We don’t necessarily need the MC’s age on page one, as the tone/dialogue should get across that this is YA-age. And if this is a YA romance, then this title could be much stronger to clue us in that it’s a romance. But from the sample I’m not actually getting a romance vibe, more science fiction or dystopian with romance in it perhaps. (If it is YA dystopian, make sure you highlight how yours is different than the other ones out there, since this is a crowded space currently.)