Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #24

GENRE: YA Literary Fiction

~JUNE 2001~

Rayne set her phone to vibrate. Her father would be pissed if it rang in the funeral home, but she needed it in case anyone called after the Graduation ceremony she was missing.

Dad doesn't understand, but Mom would, and she's the one who matters here.

It was annoying enough she had to be there instead, when the next day was the real deal. Her father's jaw tightened when she dared to suggest she go to Graduation alone. His voice cracked with exasperation more than ever, so she hadn't argued with him. It might be easier to get permission to go out tomorrow after the obligatory visitors left the house. So, she would play Dutiful Daughter, but be reachable if anyone wanted to talk to her--just her--about anything else.

Katie sat across the room, dangling feet making her seem more petite than usual for thirteen. She glanced at their mother--a painted shell, embalmed and enameled with cosmetics she'd rarely worn--before looking down to avoid the inquiring eyes surrounding her. Rayne's conscience twinged, directing her to go to her sister. But, she didn't know what she'd do once she got there.

Pat Katie on the head like a puppy? Or kick one of those dainty feet and tell her to get up so I can sit in the comfy chair?

Rayne wrestled a grin. Now the thought would manifest into action whether she wanted or not. She was better off staying away from the poor girl.


  1. There’s a lot going on here, maybe a little too much? You definitely hooked me with the mention of the funeral home—it gets me wondering why they’re there and who died? But then the Graduation is mentioned, and I’m a little thrown. What does a graduation have to do with a funeral? I’m sure you answers these questions in the text, but it’s a little much for me to wrap my head around all in the first paragraph. It may be worth spending more time developing the scene in the funeral home—bring up the bits about Mom being embalmed earlier—before bringing up the graduation.

    One small note: Why is “Graduation” capitalized? It makes me think this is more than just a standard high school graduation. If it's special for some reason, I wouldn’t mind a little more context. If it is referring to a typical high school graduation, it should be lowercase.

    Thank you for letting us read :)

  2. I like the opening paragraph. I definitely feel bad that Rayne is missing her graduation. She seems very detached from the emotions one usually feels at their mother’s funeral... It’s a little unsettling, although I know this is only the first 250 words. The description on how Rayne’s mother looks is good. The second-to-last sentence is a little confusing.

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  4. Is this her mother's funeral? It seems odd that there is zero emotion in this and your MC cares more about missing phone calls. Maybe there is an explanation coming but as is, I am not liking your MC much lol

    1. I love how you described the mother! The scene you’ve painted is of a tenuous relationship between Rayne and her family. I wonder if you could change her thought about her mom to better reflect this?

      It seems like she cares more a bout her social status and I like a potentially unlikable character. It sets up the story to be one of significant growth for her! Good job!

  5. I would avoid proclaiming your work to be literary. I suggest just saying “YA contemporary” (yes, even though it’s 2001) or “YA coming of age” or even simply YA.
    Graduation capitalized?
    Unclear what “the next day was the real deal” means. Today’s the viewing and tomorrow’s the burial? And she would prefer not to be at her own mother’s viewing? Because this part isn’t really that big of a deal? This doesn’t really endear her to us. It’s okay if she feels that way, but at least give us a peek at her complex emotions. As it stands she sounds a bit bored or annoyed by this whole thing. Why does she need her friends to be able to reach her in the middle of her mother’s funeral? We need to hear her frustration, her rage, emptiness, her—something—if we’re going to want to understand this girl. It can be complicated, but blasĂ© at your mom’s funeral (or really, any funeral) doesn’t work.
    Why is she wrestling a grin? “The thought would manifest into action” is a bit awkward.

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