Wednesday, April 15, 2009

12 Secret Agent

TITLE: Mickey Angie Lowe and His Crazy Fantastic Doodle Pen/Volume One: The Very Vicious Mr. Volcanizer
GENRE: Middle Grade Ficton




Warning

Psssst! Pssst! PSSSST! Hey worm face. I’m talking to you! Yeah, you- reading this book! Put down that video game and listen up, I don’t have much time before Mickey gets here. You’ve stumbled upon the weirdest and craziest book that you are ever going to read. The reason – It is not actually a book. Well, it is a book in that there is writing, it is on paper, it has a cool cover and there is a story with characters including heroes and villains. However, this if far from a traditional book and far from a traditional story. What does that mean for you…a whole lot of fun of course! So don’t tell your teacher or else she will make you go back to the library to get another book.

In a moment - hold on…shush for a second. Phew…I thought Mickey was coming. In a moment you will be introduced to our main character. His name is Mickey Angie Lowe. I know it is a pretty silly name, but you will learn more about that a little later. Anyway I have a secret to tell you, Mickey gets distracted very, very easily. Just don’t let him know that I told you. One minute he will be focusing on doing his math homework and the next minute he is daydreaming.

When he’s telling a story, let’s just say that he often gets a little off topic. This is where the fun begins. He especially likes to fiddle with the lyrics of a song or he likes concocting new recipes, thinking of jokes and riddles, making up his own board games and his favourite - doodling! Mickey loves to have as much fun as he possibly can to escape from his ‘boring’ life. There was this one time

36 comments:

Katie said...

Very interesting. I am definitely wanting to read more. I think you could possibly split the text up a little though - and watch for punctuation. (like I think I'd rather have a question mark after "What does that mean for you?" Instead of an ellipse.

And by splitting up text, I just mean that you could split the top paragraph into two.

But I love this beginning.

Judy said...

This is a very unique introduction. I agree with splitting the first paragraph into two. I think it would add to the flow.

Gillian said...

Interesting opening, but I'm not sure that I'm hooked, it felt a little gimicky to me, but I would read a couple more pages to see what happens.

sraasch said...

Interesting way to start -- though I'm confused as to how someone could be reading a book and playing a video game. But it's definitely a unique beginning!

melody colleen said...

I,too, thought it was a bit gimmicky, and wondered how one could play a video game and read a book at the same time.

But it's an interesting approach. I'm wondering how his love for doodling is going to play into an entire book.

Not sure if I'm hooked or not.

Janet said...

It's a unique start. I don't think I would like it to be written this way through the entire book, tho. I would read on, and if it continued to be this way, I would probably not read it all. But a child might like this way of writing.

Amy said...

I have to say, and this is totally personal preference speaking, I'm not hooked, mostly because when I'm reading this I feel like someone is whispering right in my ear. I would have to ask a middle grade reader though to get a better idea.

I like the title, I'd have to keep reading to give more feedback about the book, it's hard to comment at this point. I think the writing is really good.

Good luck. AK

MzPickles said...

LOL! @ Worm Face. I like the voice so far and would read more just to find out about this Mickey character. I liked the opening paragragh and agree that it can be split in two.

I liked the first two sentences in the 2nd paragraph and then I thought it was too much telling about Mickey. At this point I want to meet him and learn about his quirks myself.

Good Job!!

ldpauling said...

It took me to the middle of the paragraph to realize you were addressing the reader. I thought you'd forgotten quotes, so I was trying to figure out who he was talking to. I thought he was talking to someone reading a book.

Not sure if I like the style.

romoak said...

I liked the first few para's, but then I wanted to get into the story, rather than being told about Mickey.

Diane said...

I like how you're addressing the reader. One of my favorite PBs when I was little was "The Monster at the End of This Book" and you've certainly reminded me of it. I think MG boys especially will get a kick out of this so Worm Face is perfect. I agree with the others about the video game because of course your reader isn't holding one right now. Sounds like Mickey will be a relatable character but I think you could cut the specific things he likes to do and just stick with highly distractable and the doodling for now. Also it sounds like you're getting ready to slip into some backstory and at this point, I'm ready for some real-time action. I'd keep reading but I'm not sure how much backstory I'd be willing to sit through.

Melinda said...

I liked this, and I could see elementary school boys liking this.

I'd change the 'put down that video game' part because it doesn't quite make sense to say that to someone who is already reading.

I'd also cut some of the Mickey description in the last paragraph to get us into the actual story faster.

Ann E. Bryson said...

I feel like this might be a bit too gimmicky too. It reverberated Lemony Snicket a bit too much. It has promise, but I'm not hooked.

LaurieK said...

An intersting premise. I do want to find out more about Mickey and his doodle pen, but I don't feel hooked by this opening. I think if you're going to take this kind of approach and have the narrator talk to the readers then you need to tell the readers who the narrator is. Is he a friend of Mickey's? An enemy? Is he an unreliable narrator? Why should we beleive anyone who calls us wormface?

My main problem is that the intro feels like a full page of "telling." I think you could get across Mickey's eccentricities by showing them to us in the story rather than having a narrator tell us in the first page. Good Luck.

Emily Kokie said...

I'm sure this will hook some people, maybe even some kids, but it actually sort of turned me off. The tone and talking about the MC didn't work for me. But that is highly subjective, so take it for what it is worth.

But, if you were in my crit group and wanted to stick with this approach, I would suggest rethinking certain parts. Like the mention of the video game, or talking about it like it's not a book, or more than a book. And the last paragraph makes it sound like the MC will be silly, but not in a cool way, kind of in an uncool way. So, if you're going for a "cool" voice to pitch the book, I think he needs to predict "cool" things about the MC.

good luck. :}

shorty411 said...

I like the unique take of talking directly to the reader, especially at this age, however, I feel like you spend a lot of time building it up. Like the first paragraph would be great flap copy or something. I agree you need it, but on the first page, you could get more into Mickey, since he is, after all, you're main character :)

brenda248 said...

You hook me right away. I love it. I have to agree with a couple of comments above that about by the middle of the second paragraph I find my excitement slowing down. Maybe too much back story. I'm searching for more excitement.

Gimmicky or not, I like the technique.

Lucy Woodhull said...

I'm with Emily on this one. I needed less "this is the best book you'll ever read" and more "why I should care about Mickey." And Mickey singing and doodling, I'm afraid, is not intriguing.

DebraLSchubert said...

Sorry, I don't get it. Who (or what) is doing the talking? Also, there's no interaction with whoever he or it is talking to. And, although you mention Mickey many times, I still have no sense of who he is or why he's the "main character." Granted, Middle Grade is not my genre, but still. I'm just not getting it.

just Joan said...

I don't like being "talked to" when I'm reading and I was bothered by the conflict of someone reading a book and playing a video game at the same time.

I'd rather learn about a character through dialogue and action than having a "narator" tell me about him.

I'm not hooked, sorry . . . though I'm mildly curious about how Mickey Angie Lowe got his name . . .

Alps said...

Interesting way to start, but I think the writing needs work. It doesn't read smoothly and there are quite a few punctuation and grammar errors. Once you get those sorted out, though, I think this has a lot of promise.

Good luck!

Megs said...

*resents being called worm-face*

Hmph!

Seriously, this might be a little too narration heavy for me.

LoriStrongin said...

I like this! It's rare to find well-written second person shout-outs like the one here, but this totally works for me. The voice is fresh and unique and there's a great hook already surrounding Mickey. I'd absolutely read on!

McKoala said...

This is hte kind of thing that might work well for boys - fans of Andy Griffiths etc.

Sheila said...

A modern Michelangelo? Woo-hoo for that.

I think this works. I read a lot of boy books because I have three boys and they love humor most of all. And, interestingly, I often have to tell them to put down the game boys and focus on the book. So you nailed that, In my opinion.

I'd read more.

Jean said...

I liked the line about the teacher making you get a new book from the library. That sooooo happens all the time!

I like that he is 'confiding' in the reader. I do think it could be trimmed down a bit. Middle grade stories are short, so words are at a premium.

I'd keep reading to see the approach the writer takes. But the action has to start soon to get me honestly hooked.
:)

Secret Agent said...

Rats -- Blogger ate my first reaction to this story, so I'll do my best to recreate it.

Bluntly, I hated this. This feels as annoying to me as when your MC addresses me directly in your query. You're TELLING me about Mickey, not letting me get to know him myself through his actions.

Plus, the overly long, cutesy title and alliterative subtitle are off-putting to me.

Curious said...

The idea of having the book talk about one of its characters is neat. I agree with others that the action starts too slowly -- I got impatient with the third paragraph, too much telling about Mickey.

I didn't like "worm-face" either, and I agree that the reader is probably not playing a video game AND reading the book. Maybe the book could suggest that the reader needs a break from video games instead?

Jada said...

It was all telling and no showing here, and I didn't care. I loved the voice. I'd maybe tighten the third paragraph a little though. I don't think we need all of Mickey's background right away.

I'm hooked though.

Kez said...

Been done before. Also someone who goes off topic when telling a story sounds really irritating and boring.

Meg said...

Well, yes it is irritating. Then again my son was irritating in the same way. Would likes attract likes?

I'd love to push this into a small boy's hand and tell him to try reading it. He'd be giggling before he left title and front page.

Still I, (yes i read the comments. It has over 30 so I should have skipped but was curious why THIS one got so many crits--doesn't that say something right there about it? Something positive? Critsd did react viscerally to it.) would cut it really short and get on with the real story.

Meg said...

I should mention that I will never forget that irritating title, "And to my Nephew Albert I leave the island wot I won of Fatty Hagan in a Poker Game" See over 40 years and I still remember. i also remember the card catalog card---"ATMNAILIWIWOFHIAPG" *This has been a blast and that was my last crit! Until next time!*

Cheryl S said...

A brave and worthy attempt at a second person introduction, but I don't care enough about Mickey yet to be making allowances for him.

Susanne said...

I thought the alternative style of introduction was interesting but way way way too long. There's no story yet and I'm bored; perhaps a kid wouldn't be but I wouldn't bet on it. Cut the first 250 words to about 50 and get into the story. It might be good but there's no way to tell from this.

Jenny said...

I had the same reaction to this as I would if someone were shaking me and screaming in my face ... I would want to hit them and run away. The voice doesn't have to be this obnoxious to get my attention. Not only am I not hooked, I am actually repelled.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed the comments. I have written two other YA manuscripts, one Fiction (Dr. Sillypants) and the other Fantasy (Farrah in Fairyland), Mickey Angie Lowe is my “fun” project. I didn’t want it to be straight-forward.

Specifically I’m a 4th grade teacher and my target audience – reluctant readers, especially boys. I have studied very closely the books that boys are reading from front to back and unfortunately many are not classically written stories. In the computer lab, they often surf 1-2-3 websites at a time, jumping back and forth. Mickey is my attempt at keeping up with their feverish pace.

Two points I do want to touch on. 1) The video game. I have seen an evolution in my students - they have become multi-taskers extraordinaire. This reference is my acknowledgement that I understand this and I am fighting for their attention. My hope is that they will go from one eye on the screen and one eye on the book, to 2 eyes on my book.

“Worm Face.” I’m literally trying to take the language from the playground and instilling it into my book. Teaching at a catholic school, young boys and girls have come up with creative ways to circumvent cursing. Worm Face said to an Adult is an insult; to a child they just want to get your attention.

I know I have taken a gamble here, but I’m confident my book will be read from front to back, with a lot of laughs in between.