Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Secret Agent Contest #19

TITLE: Hangman - The Guesser
GENRE: YA Romance, adventure

The Executioner pulls the metal structure from the brick wall. It’s morning. I hope this is the only hanging today. The sun hits the dangling rope noose, shimmering the gold and yellow in the thick braid. The wind moves it like an invisible mouth is exhaling. I blink and look away. Shift my attention to the digital timer built into the structure’s top arm. At the ready, it reads 00:00.

On a bench near the structure, I sit and open my notebook to write the date and time. I’ve been keeping track of every hanging I’ve been to since I was ten. My dad always told me how important it is to know how the hangings work. I’ve been studying by watching and making notes.

A burst of laughter floats over my shoulder. I turn and look. It’s a few students from my school. My spine immediately straightens, bracing for a barrage of insults. I can’t wait to graduate from high school and get away from everyone. A guy points his finger at me, then spins it in a small circle beside his temple. Justin Ryman. Athlete asshole with a head full of nothing.

“Coo-coo, Jason!” he yelps. The others follow suit - bunch of lemmings.

Every town has a square with a gallows in it. Our square is also an open market. Blooming flowers, ripe fruit and fresh-cut meat, sharing space with the hangings. I don’t know, lately it’s feeling…not right.


  1. Yikes, I love your opening, it's scary and interesting perspective, and then we're pulled into teen life. Great juxtaposition. good luck!

  2. I would love it if you started with this line: I’ve been keeping track of every hanging I’ve been to since I was ten.

    It's super intriguing but also grounds us with what we're about to read about and tells us about the character. Also, it's just epic :)

    The first paragraph's flow was a little jarring for me. It's mainly shorter sentences, and it's all different stuff. If that's part of the characterization of your MC taking in all the details about hangings, that's cool, but I think it would work better after we get grounded in the scene and feel a bit more connected to the character. Overall, very nice!

  3. Definitely an intriguing opening! I was definitely interested about where we are and when - is this historical or speculative or dystopian? It’s a pretty intense opening for a romance, though, so if it is speculative, I’d consider rebinding the genre.

    1. Thank you! I'm itching to reply...but may I? Not sure...It's my first time in the contest...! Taking all comments to heart!