HH Com 266 (263)

What would the average teenager pay to find out what her best friend is saying behind her back? Or to discover if her boyfriend is as faithful as he appears?

For eighteen-year-old Nash Silverman, the running rate is two bucks per secret, and the dirtier, the pricier. She is a Spyglass, one of an elite few in high schools across the country, dedicated to being the informed minority on everything from pop quizzes and parties to hook-ups, make-ups and cruel break-ups. And Nash just might be the best Spyglass since the mystery girl who founded it ten years before.

Now in her senior year, Nash is on the lookout for a freshman to eventually become the next school Spyglass. New girl Rae Valla with her photographic memory seems the perfect choice, and upon accepting Nash’s offer, proves as gifted as Nash herself. But when Rae’s newfound popularity includes dating resident drama queen Alyssa Huong’s boyfriend, it ignites a vicious cycle of revenge-- with Nash caught in the middle.

Brushing aside her once-friendship with Nash, Alyssa blackmails her into a deal; turn the entire school against Rae by winter break, or face the revelation of Nash’s darkest and most ruinous secret. With only one week until the deadline, Nash must choose between her own reputation and not only the undoing of her friend, but breaking the cardinal rule of the Spyglass-- never, ever lie.

Two bucks? You're joking right?
That's not even a latte. As if. Please. I don't THINK so.
Ten bucks minimum.

You're awash in events here. Pare it down. You create a sense of some sort of network with "high schools across the country" but you never mention that again.

If this is a story of a single school, focus on that, and on the three main characters. And you've never explained the actual mechanics of this. Is she a gussied up blackmailer (I'll keep your secret for ten bucks) or a spy (I'll tell you a secret for ten bucks). You've got an inherent problem making a spy or a blackmailer a sympathetic character but for ten bucks I won't tell anyone.

Start over.


Inkwolf said...

I think this storyline shows lots of promise...what better fantasy to the typical, angst-ridden teen, than that a secret organization exists who could dish all the dirt on the popular clique-girls for the price of a cheeseburger? :D

Hypergraphia said...

One would think that "information" like deep, dark highschool secrets would be worth a whole lot more than $2.00 a pop. I used to get that much per page just for writing English papers and that was in the 1980's.
I agree with inkwolf though. You've got the storyline and undoubtedly the imagination and talent to see it through...just gotta get past the hook stage I guess! ;o)

Jodi Meadows said...

Hee. I thought this one was cute. But yeah, I'd up the price a little. $2 is cheap!

Anonymous said...

I liked this one a lot. It's got a lot of gut emotional appeal.

wavybrains said...

I was hooked. Your writing is strong and I love a good YA voice. I'm digging the premise--add some clarity and pare it down a bit--but I'm sad we won't get to see pages on this one--I have a feeling the work is way better than the hook. Good luck.

M. Takhallus. said...

I assume you're thinking series since you mention other schools and other Spyglasses. Think through why you'd want to go "anthology" series (new characters each time) as opposed to continuing characters. Is there an up side? A down side?

Intrigue demands opposition. It can't just be Spyglass vs. secret, you'll need a stronger enemy.

Kit Whitfield said...

Is being a Spyglass like being an undercover agent, or like being a member of a cult? I wanted to be clearer on how Spyglasses see themselves. Are they all gritty and down to earth, or do they do it primarily out of some kind of moral principle (which would explain the low prices) - in which case, what is it?

The reason I want to know is that the story is evidently driven by a conflict between realpolitik and the Spyglasses' code of honour. That being the case, we need to know exactly what that code of honour means to our heroine.

Could be fun, this one, once you've tidied it up.

Writerious said...

I like the set-up. The plot sounds like it degenerates into just another hissy girl fight, but I'm sure that can be fixed. I like the whole spy thing, and I think a lot can be done with that.

angie said...

Yep, $2 is too cheap, and this sounds a little like a Veronica Mars episode. Not a bad thing, but I'm not sure it's enough. Up the stakes, beef up Nash and you could have something interesting here.

I Said said...

I'm frankly confused by the whole YA genre. We have fourteen-year-olds into kinky sex (other submissions), an eleven-year-old who can leave a lunar station for earth and save the world, yet eighteen-year-olds worried about who's kissing their boyfriend?

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld, a novel that is in Miss Snark's library. I read it on her recommendation and it was good.


"Hunter is a New York City teen who is paid by corporations to spot the newest trends in cool. He combines his unique skills and the talents of his friend, Jen, to investigate a missing person and solve a conspiracy aimed at the center of consumer culture."

Not quite the same as your plot, but if you haven't read it, you should.

Fourteen Year Old Writer said...

Though it could be improve, the hook did hook me. I'm interested in the whole SpyGlass organization!

Demented M said...

This sounds good. I suppose Miss Snark is right to suggest a rewrite, but I think you're on the right track.


Anonymous said...

A teenager who finds out secrets for money is an intriguing idea for a story. I think you need to tell us what's motivating Nash's desire to play spy/detective, however. Is she living out her desire to be an investigative reporter or the next James Bond? Is finding things out about others her way of feeling superior or in control? Why does she need or want the money? Or is it not about the cash? When you make clear her motivation, the rest of the plot will fall into place.
A suggestion: consider changing this book into a mystery. "Information broker" Nash Silverman can find out anything about anybody at Spy High--for a price. However, things go very badly wrong when Nash discovers [evidence of X crime]. Now Nash knows something that people will kill for. [Ominous music here]

crankynick said...

I like the idea of a teen who works had to be gossip central - but I'm not sure that the Spyglass thing isn't a fairly clumsy device to show that.

Why do gossips need an organisation? What do they do? Do they confer special powers on their members? Do they meet?

I think Miss Snark is right - if the organisation is central to the plot make that clear in the hook. If it isn't, you probably want to dump it.

Virginia Miss said...

I loved the beginning of this hook, but then you get mired in too much detail. Cut the bit about picking a successor in paragraph three, we don't need to know she's selected and trained Rae, just get into the dilemna of Nash's friend blackmailing her.

Oh, and I agree with Miss Snark. Up the price. Say, twenty bucks a secret.

I think this has tremendous commercial potential. A cute idea coupled with good writing.

Good luck!