Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Secret Agent #27

TITLE: The Truth About Darwin
GENRE: YA Romance

His name was Arnie Crandall and his naked body was two feet from my naked body. There was no way this was a coincidence. The shower was running. Steam saturated our tiny bathroom. My silhouette had nowhere to hide behind the transparent shower curtain and yet here he was, stark naked himself, urinating right next to me.

    I tried not to panic. My mind searched for an exit strategy and yet my towel, hanging several feet away on the back of the bathroom door, offered none. What did I really know about this Arnie guy? Virtually nothing. My mother’s new boyfriend was so uninteresting; I had forgotten to take an interest.

    To my credit, he’d only been living with us for 18 days. Barely enough time to run him through the registered sex offender database and search his profile against America’s Most Wanted.

    “Hey,” he uttered as he stuffed a toothbrush into his mouth, attempting some kind of oral hygiene.
    Hey. Did he just say hey to me as if it was completely natural that a 48 year-old man was free balling it in front of a 14 year-old girl? Where the heck was Valerie? Although my mother’s parenting style could best be described as “hands off” this was absurd.

    “I guess we’re going to have to get used to close quarters around here, huh Meagan?” Arnie stated with a chuckle.

    I backed up into the corner of the shower and covered my vagina with a bottle of Head and Shoulders.


  1. Of course I HAD to keep reading after that first sentence! It's a great opening scene, funny and awkward in a good way. I was a bit confused as to who was where in the bathroom, so maybe look at that. At first I thought he was in the shower with her..then realized she was taking a shower and he walked in to pee. He's her mother's boyfriend? Eww.

  2. Love this! The voice is great and I was immediately pulled into the story. Like the first commenter, I was a bit confused right at first, thinking it was a love interest in the bathroom with her (maybe because it's a romance), but then I figured it out. Gross! One tiny correction--I would add a comma after "hands-off". But great job!

  3. This is an exciting beginning.

    I agree with cbaz that it took me until the second paragraph to realize the naked man wasn't the narrator's boyfriend.

    Also, I think the main character is a bit too calm about this frankly horrible situation. She says "this is absurd." It's worse--it's dangerous. I'd like to feel her fear.

    That said, you have a real attention-getter of an intro, and I'm impressed.

  4. I like the concept and the writing. The only suggestion I have is in the first sentence. The repetition of 'naked body' could be avoided. Maybe try something like: His name was Arnie Crandall and his naked body was two feet from mine-naked, too, which wasn't a coincidence. Just so you don't repeat 'naked' particularly since you use 'naked' again, only a few lines further down. Otherwise, nice job

  5. I think this is a great opening scene because it's so awful. I think the "ick" factor should be evident immediately though. That would clear up the confusion about him being her boyfriend. Also, his name isn't important. You could start with, "My mother's boyfriend's naked body was two feet from me with only the steam from my shower and a transparent shower curtain between us. EWWW! What was wrong with this guy? And how could he think it was okay to even come into the bathroom while I was showering? But to be naked and peeing...double EWWW!" Or something that shows her disgust more because that is super creepy. Also I think you could re-word some of her thoughts to sound younger. I was surprised she was only fourteen. She sounds older. (Ex. exit strategy, uttered, free balling, absurd, vagina) And why did she only cover her vagina? Maybe, "I threw one arm across my chest and grabbed a bottle of shampoo to cover my other parts." A little tweak of the voice and this will be awesome! Good luck!

  6. This makes me feel a little queasy. Although your writing skills are clearly strong, the interaction in the first paragraphs evokes predatory material not well suited for YA. In real-life, we would post "trigger warnings" on the character Arnie Crandall. I could be completely wrong on where this story is headed though! That's when the query letter and first chapter comes into play.

    1. Not the real secret agent.

  7. Thanks for everyone's feedback! No, Arnie is not a predator just a moron. He is not a main character. Meagan's mother has a pattern of dysfunctional relationships with men that poor Meagan has to deal with. Of course, it will affect her own relationships with the opposite sex and that is what I am setting up. Sorry, if it made you feel queasy. Maybe I need to rethink it.

  8. It's a funny hook and it is definitely squirm-inducing. I think the first paragraph could be tightened. Ex: Arnie Crandall's naked body was only two feet from mine. Something like that.

    I admit when I read the line about him being 48 and the MC 14, it was jarring. I think you can find a way to ease into it a little more. I like the idea and you write well.

  9. First off, I loved it. I thought it was smart and clever, with some great humor in it.

    I also was confused at the beginning, but I think that confusion works for you because when we learn the truth of the situation, it comes as a surprise. You would totally lose that if we knew who Arnie was right off the bat.

    It also evoked mixed feelings. On one hand, it was funny, but it also had a slight creepy feel to it, too, because we don't know if Arnie is a molester or not. While my mind immediately went to predator, I was also thinking 'but she doesn't have the mc screaming, and she's handling it in slightly humorous way...

    Basically, it all made me want to read more to see where you were taking it. If that was all done intentionally, kudos to you. If it just happened to turn out that way, lucky you.

    I'd keep it as is. It's just a page, and when you submit to editors and agents, they'll be looking at more than one page and perhaps get what you explained to us in your comment. They'll also have a query and/or synopsis. If you don't get any requests for a full mss after a few tries, then think about changing it.

    The tough part is, do you want to take the chance that they won't read past that first page because of

    1. Pretend that last parg. isn't there. You never saw it.

  10. Very catchy first line, strong writing, and I do like the humor. But ... it made me squirm also. Eww.

    I think with the internet, 18 days is plenty long for a sassy character like her to run her mother's boyfriend through all the data bases, if she hadn't done it before he moved in. Or maybe, if he is so vanilla, maybe she should comment that this is the most interesting thing he has done since he moved in/started dating her mother.

    And maybe I'm out of it, but I think a 14 y-o would do more than hold a bottle in front of her crotch (which is the word I think she would use) when nothing but a transparent sheet separates her from a naked old guy. Like maybe the instant he walked in she would curl into a ball and hide behind the side of the bathtub? That wouldn't do the job completely at all, but then she wouldn't have to look at him. Her reaction comes across as a little calm for a 14 y-o.

    Very awkward and humor producing situation, and maybe with a few tweaks it could accentuate that part and silence the creepy pervert alarms.

    Best of luck!

  11. This was…awkward. I thought at first the situation was pretty funny until I realized the guy was her mother’s boyfriend and not some other teenager Meagan ended up with. Honestly, I got a very worried about the situation it and I wasn’t even in the scene. So I felt that Meagan needed more emotion to be expressed here. She’s 14 years old and a 48 year old naked man is peeing right next to her while she’s in the shower. She’s way to calm about this. She should be panicking. Maybe have some tears falling down her face and mixing with the shower's waters as she backs into the corner and covers herself up. A little more emotion is needed in order to really highlight the scary and potentially dangerous situation.

    Thanks for entering!

  12. I love this opening- thought it was great dark humor! I disagree with some of these comments. Her reaction to the situation explains a lot to me about her level of fear and her obvious familiarity with dysfunctional family dynamics, so I wasn't concerned. This was actually my favorite opening because I really wanted to read more to see what happens! Well done!