Wednesday, September 9, 2009

36 Secret Agent

TITLE: Mr. In-The-Closet
GENRE: Young adult fiction

I loved math classes. Don’t get me wrong, I hated the actual subject; it was the complete definition of snorezville. But being able to spy on the boys’ PE class outside made sitting through those mind-numbing lessons worthwhile. Whoever put the soccer field in viewing distance of the classroom was a genius -- one whose feet I would gladly kiss.

Mr. Daniels, our epically boring and middle-aged teacher, sat on a brown, cushioned swivel-chair with his feet propped up on his desk. Being too lazy to stand and move toward the board, he often used a stick for his pointing.

Whack. “Rick Thomas, pay attention.”

I slammed back into reality, sitting straight enough to make a wooden board jealous. “Sorry, sir.”

He whacked the whiteboard again. If he did that one more time, I’d take that stick and shove it up his--“This sum,” he said. “Any ideas?” His eyes trained onto me, and his lips curved upward. He knew I had no idea. When did I ever have an idea?

Great. Algebra. “Um. Twenty-five?”

The curve in his lips dropped, and why the hell was everyone laughing?

“It’s a fraction, Rick.”

Okay. Not algebra. “I meant twenty over five.” Oh, yeah. Nice save. I practically saw his chest raise and fall in a sigh.

“No, you can’t have twenty over five because that would make four.”

My neck’s temperature shot up a couple of degrees as the class sniggered. Go ahead, laugh at the dumb-ass -- wouldn’t have been the first time.


  1. Great writing. Brought me in right away. Nice voice. I smiled several times reading this sample. Nicely done!

  2. If it's a gay boy in the closet sort of story I'd leave out the graphic detail of sticking up his...Even in jest. I like the fact it's a boy staring at the other boys though, and the voice is good. Very readable.

  3. Realistic, engaging, drew me right along. You get a big thumbs-up from me.

    One question: is the character interested in the PE class/soccer field because he loves soccer, or the other guys?

    Constructive critism: I echo the "up the..." comments from the poster above.

  4. Love the voice here. Great job.

  5. Wow. Such lovely comments.

    Thanks everyone. :D

  6. Great voice, flows well, and most kids could relate to this in some point of their lives.


  7. Great voice.

    I agree that you should clarify whether he's ogling the boys or watching the sports--I assumed it was a girl until I heard his name.

  8. I actually thought this was a boy's voice right away, and love the idea of a story of unrequited love from a young gay male pov. But does his name have to be Rick, lol? ;)

    I'd read on.

  9. Aw. Why not Rick? Lol. I love that name!

    Thanks everyone for their comments so far.

  10. This has a nice, readable voice, and I can totally relate to the math thing. Unfortunately, we've started with math and a bored character...which doesn't serve to draw me in.

  11. It was a good character, but not very likeable once he was going to "shove it up his..." Take out that and I'm hooked.

    I'm assuming this is a gay YA? And he's not just an avid soccer player / fan?

  12. This is nice. I like it. Provided, I do have a personal affinity with this subject. I hate maths, and I felt the exact same way about my maths teachers! I like your voice and the way the story is unfolding. Hooked.

  13. Lots to like. Definite sense of voice. But the character doesn't come off all that likeable (bored, hostile).

    And I think the boring classroom scence where the main character has lost his attention has been done, done, and done again. Think of something fresher.

  14. Heh. I could be prejudiced here, but I think I'd be falling asleep in class if the window overlooked a soccer field.

    Now, tennis court? Mm. That could be different. :)

  15. Lots of people have already written my responses so I'm just echoing.

    I love the writing. I love the first paragraph. I was all over the idea of a closeted but comfortable with himself gay teenager. Very good. I'd love to know where the story is going.


    I'd change his name, oh yes. Rick made me snigger.

    Also yes, I think the stick could be shoved down his throat instead of into any other part of his anatomy.

    But I'd read on.

  16. Seems to me Rick was paying attention to the teacher...if he noticed he had his feet propped up on the desk.

    ...don't think you can make a wooden board jealous.

    Your MC does seem a little hostile but entertaining none-the-less. I'd read on. :)

  17. I liked this, it has good voice. I think the title gives an indication it's the boys he's spying on, not the game.

  18. I did like this, though the MC's ineptness with math made me assume he was watching the game, not the boys. Something to think about if you're aiming for the younger (unimaginative/cliche-ridden, I know my faults.) crowd. I thought the immediate "I hate my life" reaction from him was a lovely-bit of teenager-ness, as well. :D

  19. Ditto - the shove it up his ... comment doesn't work here, especially considering you've just "outed" him as gay.

    Yes, like the others, I assumed the narrator was a vapid girl ogling boys until seeing his name - but perhaps if I'd read the title first, I wouldn't have thought that.

    Watch word and image usage: You have stick (2nd graf), wooden board (4th graf), whiteboard (5th graf). These subtle repeated words or images can throw readers off.

    I'm not precisely enthralled - but I'd read on to see what happens next.

  20. Just thought I'd add... I guessed from the title (which I wasn't that crazy about, but titles don't matter that much in the long run) that this was about a gay teen. :)

    About the stick... I stared more at this line (Being too lazy to stand and move toward the board, he often used a stick for his pointing) then the (If he did that one more time, I’d take that stick and shove it up his--) line.

    Most teachers I know of joke about their pointers being their whack-the-student sticks. Seriously speaking, they'll use the pointer standing or sitting. Generally standing.

    So (yes, I'm overthinking this) the emphasis was he was too lazy to get up out of his chair and had to contort to point at the board behind him (or to the far right of his desk, as I've generally seen).

    About the stick up the teachers -- I didn't take that as a sexual term, honestly. It's something people say when annoyed, regardless of orientation. :P

  21. I like this and I'd definitely continue reading. But I also didn't care for the stick getting shoved up the teacher's--

    It was funny, all right, but I think it'd be better later, after we get to know the m.c. better and develop more sympathy for him. Right now he just sounds combative.


  22. Thanks everyone for their comments. I'd never even thought about the stick sexually until someone mentioned it on here. I say I'll shove something up someone's a** all the time when they annoy me, so I didn't think anything of it :P. Imagining it now, I think I might change it to 'down his--' (as in throat... But then again, that could be just as bad. lol)

    In the next paragraph it makes it clear he's looking at the boys, for people who weren't sure, but I guess it was one paragraph too late. LOL.

    And, why is the name Rick making people laugh? : Oh, I just got it. Nevermind.

  23. Like many others, I was confused about the gender of the narrator. Even the name made me think Rick must be short for a girl's name. I'd advise that you make sure this is really clear from the start. You don't want to pull your reader out of the story or make them re-read the whole thing a couple of times while they try to figure it out.

    Having said that, the writing is good.

  24. I'm hooked. The writing is good. You've created a likelable character with a distinct voice who's in a situation many kids can relate to - the boring class and/or being gay.

    The only thing I'd suggest is cutting "great. Algebra." It just jarred me for a moment. I was thinking - I know we're in math class. Why is he telling me this again? It made sense as I read a few sentences more, but it didn't at the time I read it.

    Anyway, I'm hooked.

  25. Hooked! Love the voice and situation is hilarious. My only comment is that I wish there was a way to imply he is a boy earlier. I thought it was a girl spying on the boys.


  26. I enjoyed the voice here too, although I don't like the "Don't get me wrong" phrase -- overused imo. Overall, nice job!

  27. I'm not going to keep reading.