Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #14

TITLE: The Fast and The FAERIEous

Day two of the new school year and nothing had changed since the end of school last year. Oh, I had grown taller this summer and I had a new friend, Mike Chase, but Lisa Morris was still the queen bee and Bubba McGee was still the bully.

It didn't help that Bubba had been held back by his parents this last year. He was a huge thirteen-year-old in a class of eleven-year-olds--troll-sized, outweighing everyone by a couple of tons. I swear that when he walked by my desk his knuckles dragged the floor. And . . . he had facial hair.

There was just something totally wrong with a sixth grader growing a beard.

"Kermit Wilkie?"

I didn't know why Mrs. Dillard insisted on roll call. All she would have had to do was look over her glasses and check everyone's name off until she got to the newbies. It wasn't like she didn't already know the kids in the sixth grade, considering she taught all of us in the fifth grade last year. But no, she had to call roll. It must be a teacher thing.

We had a grand total of two new kids in class-besides Bubba, so he didn't really count. One was Mike, and the other newbie was a red-headed kid with a stupid name like Kermit. Sorry, dude, Kermit will always be a Muppet to me, not a kid.


  1. Great voice and I like the narrator already. This just seems a little too slow for a beginning. Not all beginnings need to be jam packed with action and tension, sometimes that's a bad thing, but I'd like to see a little something happening. Even if you start with the teacher calling out names.

    We really don't need to know that nothing has changed, that so-and-so is still popular and what's his name is a bully. All of that is back story that can be worked in later on.

    I like the description of Bubba (although "Bubba" sounds a little stereotypical to me). I love your last line, it made me giggle.

  2. The first thing that pulled me in was the title--I love it.

    What works really well for me is the voice. It is authenic and definately sounds MG. I don't mind the backstory for the beginning, it seems true to what an eleven year old would be thinking. The description of Bubba is perfect. The line, "And...he had facial hair" is perfect.

    I am hooked and am ready to read more.

  3. The voice is really solid here. The only thing that's bugging me is that it keeps reminding me of things from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In some ways that's a good thing, in others, not so much.

    By the title, there is something coming, but we don't get any sense of weirdness by this opening. If I picked it up for my son, I'd give it more of a chance though, since the voice is really catchy.

  4. I guess it kind of hooked me, in that I would keep reading for at least another page or two, but so far it sounds cliche' to me (why are bullies always named Bubba?). And I think the MC voice sounds just a little too mature, more like a 13 year old than an 11 year old (my own kids are 16,15,14 and 12 so I have a lot of experience with an 11 year old's thoughts). It does have potential. The title is great and a hook in and of itself.

  5. I also thought it was a slow opening. As LJ Boldyrev said, it doesn't have to be jampacked with action, but something should happen. All I get from this is that it's the second day of school and there are two new kids in class. There are no hints of the problem.

    The voice is great, but it's not not enough to keep me reading. Slip in at least one line that hints at your main problem and I'd read more.

  6. Thanks for sharing your work in such a public forum. That takes guts.

    My comments are just a quick impression, as if I were browsing in a bookstore.

    I like the voice, but am wondering if it's enough to stand out from the crowd. Bubba is a little stereotypical bully material, for a start.

    I was also off-kilter with the Kermit Wilkie line. I assumed at first this was the narrator, instead of the newbie Muppet.

    I would give it a bit further because I like the voice, hoping that you'll show me something new in the next few paras.

  7. Don't mean to echo what's already been said, but I agree with the other posters. There are so many good books about the beginning of school, it's going to take something more to make your story stand out. I like the voice, and I'm curious about Kermit Wilkie. I have the sense that he's going to be important, so maybe open with your MC's first impression of him instead of telling us how nothing has changed.

    When you start with "nothing has changed," you're basically saying, "I'm bored." So...then the reader is, too.

    Start with the one thing that HAS changed, and you've got our attention.

  8. Nice voice. I thought some of the comments were a bit too adult hindsight-y, such as, "There was just something totally wrong with a sixth grader growing a beard." Just cause sixth graders tend not to think of themselves as young -- in fact, they think they're really and really mature. That comment struck me as a little odd.

  9. This should be your first line: There was just something totally wrong with a sixth grader growing a beard.

  10. Good, strong, appealing and funny voice here--I'd keep reading for the voice. But I wanted a bigger problem presented sooner, or what the problem of the novel is in the first couple of paragraphs.

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  12. I like the voice. I also thought like another commenter that the MC's name was Kermit Wilkie. And I didn't understand how Bubba was still the class bully, but got held back. Wouldn't he have been in different class last year?

  13. I needed something a little more to pull me along. Why start here?

    And there were a lot of names to remember: Mike Chase, Lisa Morris, Bubba McGee, Kermit Wilkie, Mrs. Dillard, and we still don't know the MC's name.

    I really like the title. But it made me expect a fast (and maybe Faerieous) start. The title holds a lot of promise. I'm sure it's there. But I might start at a different place.

    Good luck!

  14. This is a bit -- ordinary, to me. I am not thrilled.

    It's not that there is anything wrong with it per se, just, it didn't thrill me. I would keep reading, but I am not feeling the love yet.

  15. I like the voice. I agree that Kermit will always be a muppet. You've quickly painted the snarky narrator and the Neanderthal bully, although this last bit is a more telling than showing (the knuckle drag thing is good though).

    So far, it's 6th grade, and based on the title, I kind of expect something more... faerie? But it's only 250 words, so I'd keep going for a while to check it out.

  16. I agree with Christine about where to start. And I like the voice. But wondering where this is all going since nothing is actually happening. Not hooked...yet.