Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Secret Agent #37

TITLE: Kilroy Was Here
GENRE: YA Science Fiction/Speculative Fiction

Allow me to present you with two options for how to spend your prom night: 1) You spend the evening captivated by a warm and intelligent sandy blonde named Marlene Summers who is the essence of wholesome beauty; 2) You guard your post on the bank of a river, protecting the Earth from an alien invader because that’s what you’re paid to do.
Likely, you are saying to yourself the choice is a real no-brainer. You’d pick Marlene in a heartbeat. No questions asked. Only a person of suspect mental stability would choose alien combat over Marlene.

Yet, as I’m standing on this river bank instead of dancing with Marlene, I tell myself I’m a responsible human being who honors his commitments and follows through on a job. Most likely, though, I’m a person of suspect mental stability.

But, a job is a job, and I had been hired by a company called Corporate after answering an ad on Craigslist. Some kids flip burgers to make some cash in high school. Others deliver newspapers or mow lawns. I work security guarding what is known as a soft spot in the space/time continuum that can be breached by aliens who wish to invade Earth. Cool gig. Dangerous. Also very mysterious. The only name the company goes by is Corporate; even on the business cards. They didn't give me business cards. I really want business cards.

I get to play with cool toys, too, but you have to read the manuals first.


  1. There's a lot of voice right away, which is awesome. I feel like I'm in your main character's head without missing a beat. The premise is intriguing and I definitely want to know more. My only criticism is the phrasing "suspect mental stability." I'm a little confused because I'm not sure of you mean like a suspect that's arrested or you meant to put suspicious. Anyway, awesome first 250 words! :)

  2. Oh my goodness! As an amateur alien enthusiast, I am geeking out over this opening so hard! I love the character's voice, and I love how much of a world you've created in a few words!

    You might want to play with the first line of the paragraph about Corporate to get rid of the passive voice, but I think a little passive voice here and there is fine, so it's not a big deal. So cool! Thank you for sharing!

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  4. Awww, man, I love this! Your narrator has a unique voice that's immediately identifiable.

    One thing: I'm not sure I buy calling the company just "Corporate." It seems a little overdone to me? Maybe go the other way and make it a ridiculous name to throw people off? But I might just be the outlier on that. =)

  5. This is so fun! Voice-y and mischievous.

    Also not keen on 'Marlene' unless the name is somehow plot-relevant (setting is in the past, her parents are into being retro).

  6. I like the voice. It's a MC that would be a pleasure to hang out with. I agree with one of the above commenters about calling the company Corporate feeling a little overdone. I like that he wants business cards.

  7. Interesting and full of voice! I'd read on.

    Only thing for me is the suspect mental stability and also addressing reader cause for me personally - i would still prepare for aliens over a dance but hey. 😊

  8. I know the background behind "Kilroy Was Here", and I therefore expected some kind of military theme, and I sure got it. That first-paragraph setup established the problem right away, and following paragraphs explained it. I agree with the comment about Corporate, but I very much understand that there are just so many choices available to us when it comes to making these decisions. You neatly took away a little of the cliche by stating that the MC wanted business cards, lightening the possible eye-rolling a reader may have when reading the name Corporate. That was almost as if the MC himself thought that was a bit of a cliche and was making some fun of it. Clever twist.

  9. I truly appreciate everyone's feedback. I've been working on this manuscript for over 5 years. I've taken many notes in my journal based on your input. Thanks!

  10. I found it hard to really delve into this scene. The entire time it felt like the narrator was just talking at me and telling me things instead of allowing me the opportunity to “experience” what was happening in the scene.

    Also, there was a lot of info dumping –telling of facts or background that isn’t necessary at the moment. Rather than telling the reader that the protagonist gave up a date with Marlene, show them. For example, he could be sneaking a peek at the dance and catch Marlene dancing with another guy. He kicks himself for letting the opportunity go when he’s called by a coworker or boss and reprimanded for not being at his post. He checks his alien invaders’ belt, casts one last look at the smiling Marlene and jumps off the roof (that’s just how my mind sees it) and goes back to his post. There’s so many ways you could go with this.

    Thanks for entering!

  11. I like this guy's attitude! One thing that might help with the info dump is to convert everything after 'a job is a job' in the fourth paragraph to action and move it after 'I get to play with cool toys ... manual first.'

    Keep after it!

  12. This is such a neat premise! Based on the last half of the page, I'd definitely keep reading. This book is right up my alley :) The first half loses me though. I wanted to be in the scene with him, experiencing his emotions and wishing right alongside him that he could be dancing with Marlene instead of guarding this soft spot. Instead, I felt like he was just talking at me, like he was telling me about it the next day instead of being there with him. Other than that though, I really enjoyed it!