Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Secret Agent #48

TITLE: Bits and Pieces
GENRE: YA Romance

My biggest failure is being born. My second is not mailing Mitchell Dobson’s birthday card. Two years ago, it was enough knowing that a guy with the collegiate world at his feet also felt crushed by doubt. No need to ruin a chance moment being a fangirl. He knew my photographs, said he liked them. Why not? His antics on the football field filled many of the frames. He seemed convinced that if I really loved photography, I should major in it in college.

Maybe. Until that day, I did love photography. For now, we tolerate each other because a sudden split would prompt questions I don’t want to answer, even with my best friend Zoe.

“You’re a real pro, Bits.” Zoe sits by my side in the afternoon shade of her screened-in porch, her laptop perched on her knees. “My parents will love these.” She scrolls through the images from her senior picture photo shoot. Even in black and white, her smile jumps right out of the image to wrap the viewer in a big hug. “You’ll get into CalArts for sure.”

“They’d have to give me major bucks. Waiving the application fee wouldn’t hurt either.”

“Your dad will find a job.” She throws an arm over my shoulder. The scent of her strawberry shampoo tickles my nose. “He just has to find the right one.”

Before we’re hungry and homeless, I hope. It would be too pathetic if Dad and I were evicted from our tiny garage apartment.


  1. I love your first two lines! They really hook you. I would like to see the rest of the first paragraph flow logically from those two lines. I found the rest of that graph a bit confusing.

    I like how you set up what the protagonist wants right away and also a main obstacle. Nice job!

  2. Hi! I love the first line (creates a real sense of voice) but I'm confused by the paragraph after that. What does not sending a birthday card have to do with Mitchell being crushed by doubt? Her photographs fill many of his in the frames in his bedroom? How does she know that? Are they dating? I do like that the main character's into photography, it adds depth to her characters! The descriptions are on point too, it paints a good picture of the scene.

    Oh wow, those last few sentences really set the stakes high! It's clear the mc wants to go to college but isn't sure she can afford it because her father's having a hard time with money. Well done! Also, I love the story of single fathers raising a family <3

  3. You do a good job of showing the stakes at the end-- and weaving it in nicely through dialogue. It doesn't feel forced, but I get what the story's about and why this matters for the narrator.

    I agree with others that the opening line works-- but then I get a little confused about how the parts about Mitchell Dobson relate to them-- why does it matter that she didn't send his birthday card?

    I almost wonder if the dialogue with Zoe could be the real start to this...

  4. I agree with the previous commenters that the first two sentences are amazing, but they need more clarification in the following paragraphs. But other than that, I like the flow, and it sets up plot from the get-go.

  5. I'm confused by the first paragraph too. I thought maybe there was a connection between Mitchell and a scholarship? But then the second paragraph makes it sound like the day she chose not to send the card, she stopped loving photography. But if that was two years ago, why did she continue to pursue it and pretend that she still loved it? Maybe I'm reading it all wrong. It's well written. I think you just need to tweak it a bit for clarification. Good luck!

  6. I'm going to disagree a little bit with previous comments about the opening. I REALLY like the second sentence and am not in love with the first (at least not as a first sentence). I think it would be a more original hook if you began with "My second-biggest failure is not mailing Michael Dobson's birthday card." (A restructuring of the paragraph following it would clarify the back story for us.) And if it fits within your first chapter, I think a great hook for the END of it could be something like, "But not mailing that card is my second-biggest failure. My biggest is being born."

    Other than that, strong descriptive writing, good grounded relationship between Bits and Zoe, and interesting end to the page!

  7. This felt unfocused to me. Her first failure WAS being born. (If you say IS, that means she's being born at that very moment.) But the point is there's no follow up to this statement. It doesn't relate to anything on the page. Then we go on to thought #2, (B'day card) which also isn't followed up. The first two pargs confused me.

    What followed those pargs made much more sense. You have a character acting in a sutuation, and her dilemma is evident. Those pargs worked for me. This may be the place to start the story.

    On the other hand, you've classified this as a romance, so if the romance is your main plot, and school/photography is the sub plot, you may be better off starting somewhere altogether different. Wherever you staŕt, I'd suggest focusing on one element - whichever one you consider to be your main plot. The subplot can come later.

  8. That first paragraph just brings up too many confusing questions. Maybe bring that info in later and start with the second paragraph and build your story from there. I offer a sample to see how it could start.

    I once loved photography. Now, I endure it. To stop now would prompt questions I don’t want to answer, even with my best friend Zoe.

    This is good. It can be GREAT.

  9. I think this needs just a tad more voice. I loved the first line but I was a little confused about the second and felt like we skipped a few steps. She said that she regrets not giving Mitchell a birthday card. I didn’t understand why that was her second biggest failure. Was she going to have her photos in it? A confession letter? How did we go from birthday card, to her photos and then her crush telling her to major it in photography. More clarification is needed.

    Thanks for entering!

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  11. Thank you all for your suggestions! It is so important to have other's eyes on one's work.

    Back to the drawing board to simplify, clarify, and specify. And not get ahead of myself.

    In the vein of Barb's revision to replace the first two paragraphs: I used to love photography. Lines, shapes, colors, stories captured for posterity within a four by six frame. Now, it’s just a means to an end.

    Best of luck to you all!