Wednesday, January 13, 2010

35 Secret Agent

TITLE: To Gnome Me Is To Love Me
GENRE: Middle grade

It was one of those days. Know what I mean? You step outside and your body beads with sweat from the top of your head to your shinbones in two point five nanoseconds. And if it was really toasty, a sweat droplet would slide down your spine to puddle right at your underwear, soaking through your shorts.

Mom insisted that only horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies dew. I got a news flash for her, I just might be a horse ‘cause I sweat. There was no dewing involved.

It was in the middle of the afternoon. In July. In Oklahoma. ‘Nuff said.

So, of course, Mom sent me outside for some ‘fresh air and sunshine’.

What she really was doing was sending me outside for a case of heatstroke.

Mom always got cranky when she was on deadline. It wasn’t like I was running around like an idiot or watching endless cartoons, which normally I would be but Mom banned the TV while she was working. I was simply minding my own business—reading on my bed.

Guess my breathing got a little too loud for her.

“Rhiannon Webber! You need to get your nose out of that book. Go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. I don’t want to hear from you for at least an hour.”

Okay. Fine. With as much attitude I could get away with and not get punished, I threw my book down and stomped outside.


  1. I'd like this better if it started at the second paragraph -- the first two paragraphs go on too long about sweat, and the second is stronger, IMO.

    Similarly, there's repetition in the narrator saying Mom sent her outside, and then showing it again with the dialogue. I think the last two paragraphs could be cut for the same reason.

    Overall, though the voice is strong, and this could grab me if it were tightened up.

    Good luck!

  2. I like the voice, but agree that this is a bit repetitive. It takes 250 words for her to be sent outside. There is no other action to hook me into the story.

  3. A great feel of who the character is. Chatty, attitude, funny, all that. But I would either cut out the second sentence (the question) or make it clear at first how you would like the reader to relate to the MC (i.e. we don't know it's hot yet when you ask).

  4. Great descriptions here. I agree that it needs tightening.

    I'd almost start with "Mom always got cranky..." and work in a bit of the description above it later. Maybe have her sweat after she gets outside and have the droplet slide down her spine.

    Good writing.

  5. Very nice voice; I like her attitude and snarky wit. I do feel like I'd like more a sense of what is happening by the end of this section, but I'd keep reading to see where it's going. Love the title, too!

  6. Cute title grabbed me.
    Like the whit.
    Wondering what this story is going to be about, however.
    Does she encounter a gnome when she's forced outside? I hope it's not of the lawn variety. Sorry, I couldn't resist.
    I'd keep reading because I really liked the voice.

  7. I love your title sooo much.

    The writing is strong, the character realistic. The section you posted just reads like somewhere else in the novel. Write yourself an action-packed opening scene and everyone would read on. You've certainly got what it takes.

    Despite the slow opening, I'd read on. The voice is that strong.

  8. Loved the voice and I didn't mind that it didn't have a lot of action. To me the type of scene matched the feel of the setting: a lingering, hot summer day.

  9. Fun title. Great description and love the voice, smart and snappy and great sense of character. She's a riot!

    On a detail note, I'd probably lose the second sentence. I would prefer to jump right from sentence one to three.

    Great start and I would want to read more!

  10. I like this MC because she seems to be quick witted. I'm a little concerned about the lack of action so far, but it wouldn't stop me from wanting to read more. Good job!

  11. I like the idea of starting with Mom always got cranky. Then after she tells the girl to go outside you could say, "What she really was doing was sending me outside for a case of heatstroke. It was the middle of the afternoon. In July. In Oklahoma. 'Nuff said." In the last paragraph I think you drop out of the main character's POV. Just say, "Okay. Fine. I threw down my book and stomped outside." That's enough to SHOW us her attitude. Good job, I'd keep reading.

  12. The voice feels very authentic for a MG protagonist, but nothing really happens in this scene. The character has some great ways of describing how hot it is, but nothing is actually happening plot-or-action-wise to propel the reader into the story. There's no tension or hook to make me care about the heat.

  13. Title caught my eye and I had to read! I love the voice. Hooked.

  14. First off, I love the title and thought it was very original. I also loved the protag's attitude and voice: a bit snarky, but not TOO much. Although there's not much happening here in the beginning, I think the author is setting us up for something unexpected (I hope!) by having the mother order Rhiannon outside. So, of course, I'd read on. Nice!

  15. Hooked! Love the voice, as well as this strange mother who's kicking her daughter out of the house because she's reading a book - how often does THAT happen? Tells you a lot about both their characters right away:) And I didn't mind the lack of action; it's just 250 words, after all.

  16. I love the title and enjoyed reading this. It has a strong voice and great characters. I would read on because I like the witty way it’s written. I’m hooked.