Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #13

TITLE: Riona's Pen
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Mr. McMichaels hated me ever since he confiscated a story I wrote during class last week. A story about an evil goblin warlord. Named McMichaels.

I guess I can't blame him, but wouldn't most English teachers love students who wanted to be authors? But no. I was lucky he only threatened me with detention.

I took my time walking to English class, seeing no need to rush. The crowded hallway slowly thinned out as kids ducked into their classrooms. The scent of mold and putrid gym clothes wafted toward me when a junior slammed his puke-green locker shut, and I gagged.

"Riona?" someone called.

I turned and spotted Artex, the new guy. He smiled and waved a piece of paper in his hand. Wow, were his teeth white! "Hi." I smiled back, unsure why he was talking to me. After all, I was decidedly unpopular. I refrained from shuffling my feet. Good-looking boys always made me nervous.

He jogged down the hall, and a lock of dark hair fell across his forehead, giving him a messy but dreamy look. "I think this is yours." He handed me the story I had started in Spanish class.

"Thanks." I shoved it into a notebook. "I guess I accidentally left it behind."

"You really wrote poor Roderick into a tight spot. Those bloody pirates are more than he can handle." He fell into step beside me.

My cheeks grew hot. "You read it?"


  1. Fun! I just have a few suggestions. I think you should move the first line of the third paragraph to the front. I think it would orientate us to the setting a bit faster and the transition would be smoother. Also, I feel like we are in a modern school, but both the names are so foreign looking so it left me a little confused. I would keep reading though, so great job!

  2. Hooked! I really like your MC's voice, I feel like I can identify with her already.

    A couple of suggestions, just my personal opinions. In the second paragraph, instead of using the word 'but' twice I might say something like:
    'I guess I can't blame him, but wouldn't most English teachers love students who wanted to be authors? Not this one. I was lucky he only threatened me with detention.'
    Also, when you're describing the locker I love the 'mold and putrid' part but I'm just wondering if 'puke-green' is a little overkill. Wouldn't she be too busy gagging to think about the colour?

    I absolutely love the name Riona, although Artex is what we do to our walls when we plaster them (I'm pretty sure that might just be an English thing though)

    Given that this is a YA fantasy I would be really interested to see where this is going and would definitely like to read more.

  3. i was hooked and i loved the opening with the story about the goblin named after the teacher. The voice is great.
    However i'm not craZy about the transition between the second and third paragraphs. It was king of jarring to me and pulled me out of the narrative.
    Otherwise, good job!

  4. My thought is that these two are going to end up in one or more of Riona's stories, and that would keep me reading to see if I was right.

    I wonder about starting with Mr McMichael's because you almost immediately go off in another direction - Artex.

    Since you get her writing in with the paper she left in Spanish, perhaps save the Mr. McMichaels stuff until she actually gets to English and we meet him for the first time. He's kind of just left dangling here.

  5. I was hooked by that little bit of romance at the end. Artex, especially, seems like a great character I'd like to get to know better.

    I'm not sure about some of your verb tenses. For example, I would say "Mr. McMichaels has hated me ever since..." rather than "Mr. McMichaels hated me ever since..." Also, I'd say "wouldn't most English teachers love students who want to be authors" rather than "students who wanted to be authors".

  6. I'm hooked! Good-looking boys make me nervous, too. ;) Your description here was great. I love the way you describe the color of the locker and the nasty odor drifting from it (gross!). The only thing I wasn't sure about what starting the pages off with how Mr. McMichaels hates Riona. I'd suggest opening the fist paragraph with her taking her time getting to English class because Mr. McMichaels isn't her biggest fan. Hope this helps and good luck!

  7. I like Riona and Alex, and I enjoyed the humor here.

    There's a bit too much showing going on. "seeing no need to rush," for example, can be deleted. If Riona is taking her time, we know she doesn't see the need to rush.

    Likewise, I'd avoid using "After All," "giving him" and "unsure why" and instead make each of those independent clauses it's own sentence.

    For example: "'Hi,'I called back. I wondered why he was talking to me. I was decidedly unpopular."

    Go through and strike as much passive voice and useless words ( like the extra "but" in the second sentence") as you can.

    Otherwise, I think the concept is cute and these two seem likeable.

  8. I'm in the minority here, but I'm bored. And an opening page with the words putrid, puke-green, dreamy, teeth white, lock of dark hair and cheeks grew hot - you've lost me. And nothing other than the intriguingly different names makes this stand out from other cutesy teen books.

    OK, I did like the opening paragraph and a student who named an evil character after her teacher. I realize from your genre that this is going to be a fantasy, but I'd like more of a hint of that here.

  9. I liked the first two paragraphs—they were fun and introduced your MC’s voice very nicely. I would have liked to know more about this McMichaels story she wrote.

    The only thing that might (later on in the novel) stop me from reading on would be Artex’s lack of depth—he’s introduced as being good-looking and a new, possible love interest for the girl, but these characteristics seem too typical to really grab my attention. I want to know something new about him; something that sets him apart from other characters.