Thursday, November 13, 2008

22 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Academy
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Malora Mooreland smiled at her long-lost uncle. His name was Augustus
Caliban. He eyed her warily, like he expected her to morph into a
psychotic clown at any minute. He did not smile back.

"So you're related to my mom, huh?" she said. They sat side-by-side in
SFO, waiting for their flight. She was devouring her second scoop of
cookie dough ice-cream.

"That is correct," he said. "As we discussed exhaustively. All morning."

He barely moved his mouth when he spoke, she noticed. His eyes were
these black, staring things, two cold pits in his long, stern face.
His skin was gray, almost-- colorless. Although Malora was a
pale-skinned redhead herself, she liked to think she looked less
ghoulish than him.

"So how'd you find out about me?" she asked.

"A will. Your mother's will. Unearthed recently."

"Wow... and they didn't find it 'til I was fourteen, huh?" She tossed
the remains of her ice cream into the nearest garbage can. "That kind
of sucks."

"Indeed," Caliban said, "all those years we could have spent together..."

Malora sent him a long, careful look. She'd almost swear he sounded relieved.

I'm not that... 'uncouth', am I? she wondered. He'd called her that a
few hours earlier when they were introduced.

"Are you certain this uncouth creature is Malora Mooreland?"

So she'd forgotten to brush her hair this morning, and she'd worn the
wrinkled shirt she spilled soda on the other day... She was 'couth' in
other respects, wasn't she?

It would help if she knew what 'uncouth' meant.


  1. A character named 'Caliban' interested me. I'd keep reading to see where you'll take this on that alone, and I don't usually read YA. The MC has a decent voice--not too attitude-filled, not too 'scared orphan'. Good job.

  2. This is well written and I really like the protagonist. She seems vital, quirky, curious. And the uncle... I can't decide if he's a stuffy old guy who doesn't care for kids or if he's going to be evil...
    I'd

  3. Nice voice for the main character and good set up.

    The names sounded a bit like the Addams Family.

    Try to avoid "was" and other verb to be sentences. They weaken your writing.

  4. I liked. I'd keep reading.
    It did feel a little more like it would fit in the older reader's section in children's books.

  5. I'm hooked. I definitely want to read more, especially to learn more about the long-lost uncle. And I love the main character, Malora. She sounds like my kind of protagonist. Hope to read more of it someday...

  6. Augustus Caliban reminds me a little bit of the uncle from the "Unfortunate Events" books...not that I read the books exactly, but the description of him immediately made me think of the movie. :]

    Er... Anyway.

    Yes. Definitely hooked.

  7. I can't say I'm completely hooked, but I would definatally read more.

    Keep up the writing!

  8. you have a strong voice in this, and an interesting situation.

    I'd read more.

  9. I am intrigued. I like the set up, your MC is interesting. I love the line, "She was 'couth' in
    other respects, wasn't she?" I got a good sense of the character from this single line.

    I agree about the uncle...not sure if he's good or bad. He reminds me of Lord Asriel in Philip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS.

    I also agree that you could make the writing stronger by getting rid of the passive voice.

    Well done. I'd be interested to see where you take this.

  10. Interesting premise. I wouldn’t say I’m hooked yet, but would probably read on to the end of the chapter to see where this is going.

  11. I'm not entirely hooked but I'd keep reading, especially because of the last line of her not knowing what uncouth meant. I laughed at that. I do enjoy the voice, though agree about the passiveness.

  12. Well, I loved this.

    I think your first paragraph could be strengthened by cutting it down.

    Malora Mooreland smiled at her long-lost uncle. He did not smile back.

    Right there you have conflict. one character smiling, the other not.

    then put in the second paragraph and then in the third paragraph you could add in the details cut from number one:

    That is correct, "Augustus Caliban said, eyeing her warily."As we discussed exhaustively. All morning."

    I think the psychotic clown weakens the opening--it's too much for us to picture so early.

    What works wonderfully is her rambling way of thinking, her sloppy thoughts, stating the obvious because she doesn't know what else to say and his clipped answers. His obvious disdain. His thinking she's stupid.
    That is established by the third paragraph and then builds from there.

    And she's not stupid. We know this from the long careful look and her awareness that he thinks she's a slob even though she doesn't really know what uncouth means.

    The only other line I would change is the "she liked to think" phrase. To say she liked to think implies this is something she's been thinking about for a long time. This is an ongoing defense that a person employs over time. "Even though the cute boy makes fun of me, I like to think it's because he likes me."

    So, since this girl just met her uncle and hasn't had time to think long, you might say, "she was sure" instead of "she liked to think."

    But I really LOVED this. Fell in love with the girl and in hate with the uncle that quickly.

  13. I like the idea but the execution lacks polish. Needs a lot of tightening up. Not quite hooked, but I do like the voice of the pain character, though.