Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #8

TITLE: The Sweetfern and the Juniper
GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance

Katy Compton was trapped at the top of a Ferris wheel. Although that would have been an apt metaphor for her life at the moment, she really was stuck high up in a rickety metal cart, and she really didn’t want to be. To make matters worse, her mother had struck up a lively conversation with a family in the cart below them. Katy slumped against her headrest and pulled a well-worn notebook from the pocket of her overalls.

She traced the pressed daffodil on the cover before flipping to the section for the current summer. She made a heavy mark in the box for “carnival” and glanced through the rest of the list. Plenty of things to do, and no one to do them with. The only thing she had any hope for was the last one: “high school.” Life was going to change for her this fall, she was sure of it.

All she had to do was change herself first.

“Why aren’t we moving?” Katy’s mother asked, nudging her and breaking her out of her thoughts. “Do you see anything going on down there?” Katy looked, but she couldn’t see down to the control panel, and trying to lean out made her dizzy.

“We’ll probably start going soon.”

Apparently satisfied, Katy’s mother leaned back over the edge of the cart to continue talking. Katy put her book away and gazed out over the crowds.


  1. Okay... so not only is Katy stuck in the Ferris wheel, she feels stuck in her life. Bummer. I can definitely see potential for character growth in this opening. My suggestions would be to work on showing more with her feelings/actions maybe. Instead of telling us she doesn't want to be up there, show how agitated she is.. rolling her eyes, slamming her foot... Also, maybe a touch more detail about what needs to change. We don't know anything about her yet, so without more detail the line about changing herself doesn't really have much effect. Does she need to quit drugs? lose weight? give some idea what it means.
    Other than that, good start. Good luck!

  2. I agree with CChristie. We're told a lot about your mc, but it would be better to show. Also, what's driving this story? Something about her that's unique, different? And how is that going to change her life? Why won't she be trapped any more? Good luck!

  3. Nice metaphor with her being trapped on the ferris wheel and trapped in her life. But being stuck on the ferris wheel doesn't really add anything unless we know why it upsets her. Is she afraid of heights? Aftaid she might fall out if mom leans too far forward? Maybe she"s just embarrassed by mom talking with the people below. As is, being stuck doesn't seem to be causing any issues and it should.

    I also agree with the suggestion to say what she wants to change about herself. And maybe she doesn't want to change but feels she has to to fit in.

    You have her stuck on the ferris wheel, a great place for her to do some thinking. Get us into head a bit more. And don't tell us what she is thinking. Let her actually have the thoughts.

    Stick with it!

  4. The voice in this is strong and the first line especially does a good job grabbing attention. The "all she had to do was change herself first" line felt very too on-the-nose. If her arc in the story is trying to change and then realizing all she needs to do is be herself, then you're going to need to be very careful of cliches. And no teenager is going to think a line as direct as this. The voice was strong and believable as a teen's voice until that point and then I was completely pulled out of it. Source: I am a teenager.

    It's going to be more small things that teens want to change about themselves, such as more outgoing or losing some weight. No one wants to change themselves entirely, just a few specific things so I definitely agree with the others above about being specific about what she wants to change.

  5. Aww. I like the title on this one.

    Oh, wow. I really like how this starts. The metaphor with the literal, and then the pull in of family--that really grounds it and makes it relatable.

    This character is staying way, way more relaxed in this situation than I would be.

    The character arc is set up immediately here, and that makes me very much want to keep reading. Well done. Right in line with young adult, too.

    I like this one. A lot.

    Things I liked:
    • clear character motivation
    • relatable

    • unrealistically calm (but that could just be because I'd be the opposite in this situation--haha)