Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Secret Agent Contest #21

TITLE: Next To Me
GENRE: YA Young Adult

A newspaper cutting slid noiselessly out of the folder and landed gently on the tiles at my feet, making a slight rustling noise as it hit the marble floor. I read the heading: Haulage Magnate’s Daughter Recovered Barely Alive and sucked in a deep breath, clasping my hands tighter, turning my head away to focus long and hard at one of the diplomas on the wall. A sloppy mistake from her part. My trauma journey has been long, agonizing, and very painful. The last thing I needed right now was a reminder of the past my parents were paying for me to forget.

Realising her gaffe, Dr. Stone hastily reached down and snatched it up. I ignored the twinge of pain that soared up my hand as I realised that I’d accidentally dug my nails into my finger so hard that it had begun to bleed. I took out a tissue from my jeans pocket and wrapped it tightly around it, watching as the red permeated the whiteness. Pretty.


“Midnight. You know, the same. No changes there,” I said, fighting hard to not cry.

“Talk me through last night.”

The noise is piercing. Its shrillness resonates shock waves through me and I open my eyes. I am standing at my bedroom window facing the garden. My heart is battering angrily against my chest cage and I instinctively place my hand over it to stop the pain. My heart hurts and I feel nauseous. I want to vomit. It’s fear. I’m terrified.


  1. I am intrigued. Starting with the aftermath of a kidnapping is a nice twist.
    There are a few things I might tweak. It seems a little confusing to use the descriptors "noiselessly" and "a slight rustling noise" in the same sentence, so maybe get rid of one of them. And I wonder if you meant "a sloppy mistake ON her part"? Otherwise I'm not sure what that sentence means. Also, I don't think "realising her gaffe" is necessary; we already see from her haste that Dr. Stone is embarrassed. Finally, resonate isn't generally a verb that acts on objects, so you might want to rephrase that sentence in the last paragraph. But overall, nice job. Good luck!

  2. Just a tiny grain of salt, but you "might" want to chose one adjective iin this sentence: "A newspaper cutting slid noiselessly out of the folder and landed gently ..." There are actually 3 discriptors. I think you have something interesting here, but you might want to simplify the first two sentences? Oh, "the past her parents were paying me to forget"-- nice intrigue. I'm not sure what the gaffe by Dr. Stone was? Overall, you could probably clean up a few of the extra words to sharpen up, or focus on what's going on. All the best with this!

  3. "Realizing her gaffe" may be a pov issue to a picky editor. IMHO, you do yourself a disservice anyway by not describing the Dr. Stone's reactions, or lack thereof.
    If it's a specific very familiar newspaper clipping to the protagonist, perhaps she can recognize the shape of the headline without having to read it. Which, for me, feels less expository.
    I like we're you're beginning, and I would read further.

  4. I’m intrigued by Simone a lot, but I’m also finding it hard to connect with her. I think part of that is because this section is, in effect, book-ended by telling of trauma. Right away Simone tells the reader that her trauma journey has been painful and hard and long and just a few moments later the reader is sucked into said trauma again, so instead of getting to know Simone or her reaction to being in this room wit this doctor, we’re being told how to fell about her and her situation. I’d like more nuance, more subtle characterization, I think it could go a long way to making Simone’s story even more captivating.