Wednesday, September 9, 2009

47 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Paper Gods
GENRE: Middle grade fantasy

More than anything, Poetry wished she had a button. Failing that, she
would have settled for an out-of-the-way corner in which to pin her
shirt closed. She had neither. What she did have was twenty-odd
students and a handful of passers-by, gawking at her and her lime green bra.

She could flee back into school for a bathroom. Of course, the sharks
had already scented her blood. A spectacular, head-over-heels fall
with her shirt ripped wide open and the crucial button soaring through
the air? She was never going to live this down.

Poetry stood up straight.

“Could I have your attention, please?”

She already had everyone’s attention; the gigglers, the whisperers,
the nice kids cringing in sympathy. Even the man across the street was staring.

Calmly, without looking down, she began working on her shirt. “Public
viewing hours for Poetry Wu’s Wondrous Heaving Bosom are now over.”

She fit her remaining buttons carefully into the wrong buttonholes.
The shirt might be crooked, but her important bits would be covered.
She glanced around. Some of the smirks were unfolding into smiles, but
she could tell that the guy in the muscle shirt was about to say
something nasty, and that man was still just staring – at her face, not her really-quite-ordinary bosom.

Muscle-shirt opened his mouth.

"You there,” Poetry called out hastily, “Did you have something to say about the exhibit?”

Not anymore, he didn’t. He turned red and shook his head.

“Comments are to be left in…uh…”


  1. I'm hooked. Poetry seems a bit too confident for this to seem realistic for me, but I'm hooked nonetheless and would definitely read more. It was very funny.

  2. I really like the fist line of this!

  3. Like this, voice is great, but it seems more YA than MG to me. Also, I'm not loving Poetry for the MC's name. I like different names usually, but I don't know, this one doesn't strike me I guess. That said, I would read more but 'heaving bosoms' really seems more appropriate for YA.

  4. I agree with ajcastle that this seems a little more YA than middle grade. That being said, I'm hooked. I adore strong female characters, and Poetry comes across as one right away. I'd definitely keep reading.

  5. I like the name, Poetry. Good job!

  6. I'm hooked. I like the name Poetry. I like her confidence and sass. I'd read more.

    I was wondering why she's outside, but I'm sure you explain that soon.

  7. Hooked. Really like this character. Poetry does seem like an odd name, but it works - she seems like an out-of-the-ordinary person.

  8. I like the voice and humor. I'd keep reading.

    The only part that stopped me was her method of shutting up the muscle shirt guy. What she said to him didn't seem strong/snappy enough to silence and redden him.

  9. I like this, I'd keep reading.

    Poetry is a cool name for a character, and she's quite funny too :)

  10. Well written, but I am not hooked. The woman wrestling with her shirt is a turnoff for me, considering this an opening scene for kid lit. Plus the character is a teacher.

  11. Definitely doesn't read like MG - and I was confused when you said that Poetry had twenty-two odd students...

    saying that she had the students made me think she was the teacher, which wouldn't work for YA/MG.

  12. I like the characters voice, and I thought she had the kind of boldness that everyone wished they had.

    I also thought this sounded more young adult.

    And, is this indoors, or outdoors? She could go back into the bathroom, but there were passers by, and a man staring at her from across the street. The setting is very confusing.

  13. Ya lost me at the fourth word - could not handle a character named Poetry.

    Narrow-minded of me, perhaps.

    And if that hadn't lost me (okay, I went back and made myself pretend she wasn't called Poetry), this would: Poetry Wu’s Wondrous Heaving Bosom.

    Not my cup of tea! Not hooked, sorry.

  14. Love the voice, although she's pretty confident for someone in that situation. Still, that could be who she is and we don't know her very well yet. I think if it were me I'd probably leave her name until a few more lines down because I had to reread that first sentence a few times to understand it until I clicked that her name was Poetry. If you get what I mean.

    Otherwise really liked it and it has a really distinctive voice.

  15. Extraordinary voice. 98 percent there. First though, where are we? Ground the reader, please. Why did she fall? What did she fall on? And this is small but we don’t need “In which” in first sentence. “Some smirks” instead of “Some of the smirks.” “that” can usually be cut. Don’t need “hastily.” “You there” (assuming a crowd has gathered she’d need to specify who she’s hollering at.)
    Well done.

  16. Two things that distracted me from the writing (which actually was pretty good I thought) -

    1 - not crazy about her name. That isn't a real nitpic, or something you MUST change to please me.

    2 - I.... don't think this is middle grade. :)

  17. Totally hooked.

    And I love the name Poetry. It's no weirder than whatsherface actress naming her child Apple. (Added bonus, it includes no random apostrophes.)

  18. Poetry isn't a teacher and she doesn't have students...but they're all looking at her. (perhaps you should change students to classmates so the general population doesn't confuse that).

    And Poetry really does seem YA. No self-respecting mother would buy a bright lime green bra for a MG. And I never met a MG with enough confidence to be falling out of her clothes and telling off the muscle guy trying to tease her about it. A teenager would.

    But, maybe Poetry's mom isn't the normal mom and Poetry is going to be the rare exception. She's sassy and I like her. I would keep reading regardless cause I'm pretty sure crazy things are going to happen around this girl.

  19. I really liked this and would definitely keep reading.

    Not at all concerned that the character may be "older" than the intended audience. Most of the books I read as a kid involved older characters - and the character is hardly ancient.

    As for the name - I'm not going to stop reading a book because I didn't "like" a name. After all, in real life I'm hardly going to ignore or be rude to people whose names I don't like. I would presume agents don't let their personal likes/dislikes for names get in the way of looking for good writing. (And some names in fantasy novels can be...odd. LOL)

  20. First paragraph was great, except I'm not sure what a button would do for her. You need more than a button to close a shirt back up once that button is gone, and you need more than one ripped off to really expose what seems like her entire chest. I do like how she stands up for herself, but then . . . it loses some impact as it goes on. Maybe tighten it a little? But overall? It's a good hook, title is neat, but I am a little concerned that this is being targeted at Middle Graders.


  21. The voice is strong and the phrasing quite good, but I'm a bit confused with the name of the main character (maybe it makes more sense later on). Also, I don't get any sense of the larger plot, but maybe that comes later on. Interesting start, I might keep reading, although I might give up after reading the main character's name for the twentieth time.

  22. I misread this and for some reason thought she was a teacher. My mistake, sorry about that! I retract my criticism.

  23. Hooked. Great voice, great scene, although I, too, am wondering whether this wouldn't be more suited to young adult. For one thing, most middle-grade readers aren't wearing bras, and if they are, their (ahem) bosoms aren't going to be wondrous or heaving enough to allow for soaring-through-the-air buttons.

  24. I didn't get right away that she wasn't a teacher. Maybe change students to classmates for clarity?

    I liked Poetry's personality, and I could see a middle grader reacting this way, more than I can see a high schooler acting like this. A high school teen, I think, would be mortified.

    I didn't get what was happening with that last line or where you might take this, but based upon your characterization of Poetry, I'd read on.

  25. I'd read on!

    However, part of why I'd read on is because I'm a little bit baffled over the character, and I want more of an explanation. A bit of an odd name choice?

  26. I love strong characters and Poetry is in motion.

    Some pickies:
    Best to ground the reader in where she is (next to outdoor tables?/fence/the flagpole and it's grass knole).
    Knowing the general disarray of students outside the class, I think its pretty hard to quiet everybody, let alone be heard, so she'd have to have some pipes.

    Not too many (maybe none) MG boys have fully developed muscles, although they certainly could wear the he's just another punk!! but you play him up, without any derogatories about his actual muscles...just a little confusing...but i bet all will become clear...Hooked.

    Otherwised hooked.

  27. I wasn't sure if Poetry was the teacher, among her classmates, or ???

    But I really like her spunk. I'd stick with this for a while.

  28. Great voice, but I think you need to work on clarity. The way she referred to the students made me think she was a teacher, too. I had to read the first couple paragraphs about three times to figure out where she was. Mostly because my logical mind kept trying to argue, "She fell at school, why would she wait until she was all the way outside and walking down the street to close her shirt?"

    What added to that was "finding an out of the way corner" instead of an ally to duck into or something. So is she in front of the school? Or did twenty kids follow her down the street so they could laugh and point? I think you need to think about context.

    And Poetry is a really distracting name. Every time I read it, I stopped dead in my tracks.

    But you really do have a great voice!

  29. I think the writing is strong and the voice is very original. I would agree with those who say it sounds more YA than MG. I think the name 'Poetry' works, simply it is such a contrast to what is obviously a kick-*** heroine! Just a couple of tiny quibbles: I wonder if the boy in the 'muscle-shirt' is appropriate in a MG school setting? Also the 'crucial button' - if her shirt is completely open, would she really worry about one button? Wouldn't she just hold the two sides closed and go somewhere where she could button up in private? Just a thought. I would keep reading! Sharks in the bathroom?! Hooked!
    Good luck!

  30. I like this. Nice voice, spunky character. Sounds a little old for mg though.

  31. I like this, but I agree with the concensus that it doesn't seem MG.

    Oh, BTW, I LOVE her name. But, my mom was kind of odd about how she named her kids, too.

  32. This is a neat character. I'd give her a better name, hard to imagine a "Poetry" being so bold. A lot of humor in this opening and nice touches. I'd keep reading, in fact it's a shame I can't.

  33. I love this. I would definitely keep reading.

  34. You've come a long way since 2YN - ready to publish? Awesome! The voice is still great, although the new first scene is definitely different. Of course I'd keep reading, but I'm biased, I know the story. Just wanted to wish you good luck!


  35. I honestly thought she was a teacher too.

    'Poetry' as a name jarred and unless it has made her what she is, I would rethink that.

    However, I adored her grace under pressure. The MC's voice and wit were refreshing. I enjoyed it immensely. I'd definitely read on.

  36. Wolverine,

    Thanks for your kind comments - it's good to hear from an old classmate! I hope yours is going well too!

    Thanks also to everyone else for your comments. Sorry about the name 'Poetry', I know it's tough to take! I'm afraid I think it's necessary to the character, so'll just have to hope it won't kill too many readers.

  37. Wow! Poetry is certainly a role model for teen confidence!