Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Secret Agent Contest #31

GENRE: YA Fantasy

It takes twice as long to go through an airport when your passport has to be read in Spanish. My time in the US had taught me as much.

The security officer at LAX eyed every page of my passport like he was reading a psychological thriller. I checked my watch again: 14:45. The gate closed at 15.

For the love of Einstein, I just wanted to make my flight.

I had to make that flight.

“Are you sure you want to go?” Behind me, my father tightened up the straps of my backpack, sliding yet another tissue pack into my outer pocket. You know, no emergency Kleenex can’t solve. “I mean, it’s Cairo. It’s so unsafe.”

“We live in Los Angeles.” I scanned the line of people taking off their shoes and belts in front of us as the giant analog clock on the wall struck 14:47. At this rate I would miss my flight, which meant I’d miss my chance to change the world.

“So?” he said.

“So we live in—” I sighed, waving my hand in front of his face. No use explaining this. Every place on Earth was unsafe for his not-so-little daughter, traveling without him for the first time. “I’ll be fine. It’s only for a couple of weeks. I promise I won’t join a militia.” My father smiled a weak smile.
The comment earned me a grunt from the officer. He uncapped a red pen and scribbled on my tickets. Hell if I wasn’t seconds away from being deported.


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  2. I like starting in scene with a short term mystery or challenge: will this character make their flight? We get to learn where we are and who we are with in the midst of action. The line that really grabbed me was "miss my chance to change the world"--I am very curious what this character is setting out to do. There were a few things in the first few paragraphs that confused me...the second sentence says her time in the US taught her how long it takes to get through airports with a Spanish passport, which only makes sense if she is spending a lot of her time in the US going through airports. And if she is, and this is something she has learned, why is she so late for such an important flight? The second thing is the analogy of the guard reading her passport "like a psychological thriller"...I assume this means the main character enjoys this type of book, and that she reads them closely. Keep in mind that might not be present an immediate image of how the guard is looking at the passport, for a reader who doesn't go nose-to-page with psychological thrillers. What confused me is putting this analogy so close to the next line, where she exclaims "for the love of Einstein" ...because I am not getting a clear picture of what interests her. Is she a science lover, a mystery lover, AND going to save the world in Cairo? I probably wouldn't have noticed if these three things hadn't come back to back, but in the first few paragraphs, I am trying to pull in every detail of who she is. So, for me, that could be sharpened! After that it flows.

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  5. Oh, wow. For some reason Chrome is not letting me post. Hope this one goes through.

    Hi! Thanks for your feedback!
    She and her dad are immigrants --they moved to the US so she can go to high school :) She's a Physics enthusiast and is going to Cairo bc her idea for a prototype won a STEM award.
    Pity we can only include 250 words! One more line and that would have been clarified.
    Will make sure to keep your suggestions in mind and clarify those things earlier on!

  6. I like your opening. I can completely sympathize with the feeling of waiting for a plane. I will say that based on my experience in airports, they don't closely examine your passport until you land in the foreign country (that's when you go through customs) and her father who isn't flying wouldn't usually be still there by the time the passport is being checked. (He's not going to be allowed past the security gate without a ticket. I supposed he could wait in line with her up until she reaches the front, but that would be unusual--maybe a sign of his over protectiveness that he's not leaving until the last possible moment?)

    I loved the last line, it made me laugh out loud. Good luck!

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! You're definitely right about the airports! Was thinking of an airport elsewhere but you're totally right that American airports are different!

  7. “I’d miss my chance to change the world,” is such a great line. It tells us so much about the character and absolutely made me want to keep reading. The dynamic between the protagonist and the dad is great, too.