Thursday, October 16, 2008

45 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Soul Purpose
GENRE: YA Paranormal



“Happy birthday, babe!”

Lenzi felt like her bones were coming unglued as Zak’s car barreled over the dimpled sand, threatening to shake her apart at any moment. He had promised her a surprise, but this was not at all what she had expected. Zak came to a sliding halt on the beach where a fire still smoldered, abandoned by previous campers.

“Happy Birthday!” Even though he was shouting at the top of his lungs, it was hard to hear Zak over the grinding car motor and heavy metal blasting from his blown-out speakers.

The old, overworked engine heaved a sigh and grumbled into silence when Zak turned the key and yanked it out of the ignition, pitching it carelessly on the seat. “Let’s get this party started!”

Lenzi crossed her arms and gritted her teeth. This time, just for once, she thought maybe Zak would pull his head out and do something remotely cool, something that didn’t involve Cynthia and Greg. Zak wouldn’t go anywhere without them anymore. They were inseparable, like the Three Stooges—only not funny.

Cynthia and Greg got out of the car and immediately lit up. Lenzi remained motionless in the front seat, smoldering like their ashes, consciously refraining from losing it completely. What was wrong with him? He used to be so different.

24 comments:

florkincaid said...

Great prose. This line especially: "Zak’s car barreled over the dimpled sand."

H. L. Dyer said...

Fabulous voice. ;)

blodwyn said...

I like it and would read on. I did find it a little confusing that she began thinking about Cynthia and Greg once they arrived at the campfire since they were in the car all along. It took me a few reads to figure out if they'd arrived in a separate car.

Overall, though, I think you have a good setup and voice. I felt very annoyed with Zak.

Arlene said...

You've set the scene well. The tension is clear, along with the dilemma of a boyfriend who’s no longer fun is always interesting.
There's spots that can be tightened, for example...where an abandoned fire still smoldered...loses some words and we don't need to know it's from previous campers. I'm not a fan of excessive exclamation points, and Zak doesn’t speak without one, but that’s just me and easily ignored if the story line pulls me in.
I do wonder why Cythia and Greg, the unwanted companions, waited until they got out of the car to light up seeing as neither were driving, and if they immediately ( unneeded adjective, in my opinion ) lit up there wouldn’t yet be ashes so the tie in to Lenzi smoldering doesn’t quite work for me.
Sorry, I’d set this one aside. Good luck with it.

Cole Gibsen said...

Love the voice as well! Especially the "smoldering like their cigarettes" :)
But I, too, was confused by Cynthia and Greg. I thought they were in the same car.

RayLynne said...

I like the tension of a disappointing birthday celebration, but I find myself wondering why Lenzi keeps hanging out with these people if she doesn't like them that much. Having a previous relationship with Zak obviously means something to her, but it doesn't mean anything to me, at least not yet.

I'm not too sure I like the dialogue opening, either. I felt like we didn't really begin until a bit later into the section.

ElanaJ said...

I would definitely read more to find out why Lenzi doesn't want to get out of the car on her own birthday. Good job! :)

celticqueen said...

Great descriptions, I would definitely read more!

just Joan said...

I'm interested to know why Zak used to be different and why Lenzi stays with him and his friends when she doesn't seem to like them.

But (you saw that coming, right?)

I'm confused by the appearance of Cynthia and Greg. Were they in the car the whole time? It probably won't make much difference, but I'd change "thought maybe Zak would pull his head . .." to "hoped Zak would pull his head . . ."

I'm not sure what her birthday surprise is supposed to be and am hoping it is revealed after this passage cause I missed it otherwise.

I liked the Three Stooges line, though I'm not sure how many kids would get the reference (maybe more than I think).

just Joan said...

Oh, and I meant to mention Zak's telling her happy birthday at the beginning and then again after they come to a stop didn't work for me. Why is he telling her happy birthday as if he's revealing her gift (at the beginning) if they haven't arrived at the "party" yet?

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to disagree with the chorus here.

It's a good opening scene, but I just don't think the writing is tight enough to carry my interest.

Too much passive voice, and I'm not really feeling your character.

You're very, very close, but not quite there.

Secret Agent said...

Hello All,

First, I'd like to say thanks for having me, and I hope I'll see some goodies among Authoress' premium slush pile. I won't be too mean, but I'll certainly be honest.

This first page seems very familiar-in fact, I think it may have come through my normal slush at some point. For me, YA is immediately about voice, and this first page doesn't pop and sizzle in a way that lets me know that this character and this story are different from all the others. If it doesn't stand out from the crowd, I have to be picky and pass. This is one of those sad cases where there's nothing wrong, but I can't find something going "right" enough that I really want to dive in.

Sissy said...

It surprised me when I found additional people - I still don't know if they were in the car or not.

Also, your MC seems to have only negative vibes going so far - I'm not sure how attractive this is for YA, but I realize one page can't tell us a lot.

It was refreshingly clean, though, so that's definitely a plus in my book. Clean regarding grammar, etc., that is.

goldchevy said...

Zak is grates on your nerves just like his old car. I thought the line about the Three Stooges was really funny.

Alicia said...

Nice voice and lots of humor. Good descriptions in the prose too. However, the setup doesn't intrigue me enough to keep reading.

On a side note, the sudden mention of Zak's friends also being in the car startled me. Consider slipping in a line about them earlier.

Anonymous said...

I'm hooked. I liked "smoldering like their ashes" and would definitely keep reading. If this is how her night is starting out, how will it end? I would love to find out.

Inkblot said...

Sorry, not my thing. I don't really feel like there's enough of a conflict to hook me :S

Lori said...

I'm on the fence on this one. The party and Zak changing don't feel like strong enough conflict points just yet. I guess I'd probably read to the end of the chapter before fully making up my mind.

Just_Me said...

Good writing, but I'm not in love. The scene is well done, but I'm not connecting to the character quite yet. I'll give you the full first chapter and we'll see.

streiberwrt said...

Nothing wrong here. It's competently written. It doesn't "pop," but this isn't a short story contest. Judging from the first few paragraphs we see here, I think this could be mediocre to very good. Hard to tell with just the first 250 words. And I'm not one of the posters who will make a final judgement on the novel just from the first 250 words.

But it would seem the author knows what he/she is doing.

streiberwrt said...

Nothing wrong here. It's competently written. It doesn't "pop," but this isn't a short story contest. Judging from the first few paragraphs we see here, I think this could be mediocre to very good. Hard to tell with just the first 250 words. And I'm not one of the posters who will make a final judgement on the novel just from the first 250 words.

But it would seem the author knows what he/she is doing.

Lady Glamis said...

I sense some tension starting to build, so I would keep reading. I don't like that the two main characters have z's in their names. It's a little cutesy IMO.

Why didn't you mention that Cynthia and Greg were in the car right off the bat? I was confused.

Good start, though.

cc said...

I think it might "pop" more if you cut back on some of the descripton. I really love your prose -- I like more literary writing -- but too many details are slowing it down. This might be a problem throughtout the ms?

Example I love: "... car barreled over the dimpled sand, threatening to shake her apart at any moment..."

Good God, that's beautiful. Really immediate, and I love the way those words unravel, I'm right there in that car with her.

BUT, then this might be too much: "... The old overworked engine heaved a sigh and grumbled into silence when Zak turned the key and yanked it out of the ignition, pitching it carelessly on the seat..."

This, for me, is simply too much detail. A simple "Zac yanked the key from the ignition; pitched it on the seat" would give more pop. Not every action needs to have an accompanying analysis by the MC.

Hope that made sense. Good luck with this! :)

Merc said...

I'm... not really hooked, sorry. There's great tension and an intriguing set up, I just can't seem to want to care about Lenzi yet. Chalk it up to my weird tastes as a reader. :P

Good luck! This does look promising.

~Merc