Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Middle Grade Are You Hooked? #12

TITLE: Strings
GENRE: MG Fantasy

One of the best things about living in a spaceship built like two houses stuck together is that I've never had to share a bedroom. That made listening to my parents' conversation in the kitchen a lot easier. The kitchen wouldn't normally be within eavesdropping distance of my room, but the echo spell I was testing carried their voices like I was in the same room.

"The inventory from the Framing estate is being transported in this morning," my mom said.

"About time." Squishy-tongue noises came with the words. Gross, Dad, don't talk with your mouth full. He swallowed. "I hate quarantines. The old lady got pulled under. It's not like she died of something contagious."

Nice, Dad. So much for being respectful of the dead. This conversation was boring. Talk about me, I thought.

More chewing noises. Yuck. "I'm a little worried about Veeve."


"She's been kind of moody lately."

I have not!

A sharp rattle, like a plate dropping on the counter, came ahead of my mother's reply. "I cannot believe that little brat. She's not moody. She's been doing magic."


"What are you talking about? She's only twelve."

"Exactly. Ever since her birthday, she's been begging to start lessons. Looks like she got tired of hearing me say no."

"All I said was that she's been moody. How does that -?"

"She isn't ready to balance against the current yet. Which is
why I told her to wait."


  1. I can tell that Veeve is somewhat of an impatient troublemaker, which is my kind of protagonist. I'm curious to see how you handle the combination of spaceships and magic, so I'd read on a bit more.

  2. Hard to picture the spaceship. Maybe a little more description?

    Not sure what a squishy tongue noise is; please describe.

    Suggest you separate the kid's thoughts from the parents dialogue and put in its own paragraph for clarity.

    I think you should get right to the parents discussing the kid; the rest isn't that interesting.

    how does Mom know she's doing magic? Did she see her? sense her? something else?

    Think it needs more description, some clarification, and more about how Mom knows about the magic.

    Good luck with this. Great idea...

    Posted by Authoress at 12:11 PM 1 worthy comments
    Labels: Are You Hooked?

  3. This sounds interesting, but I think you're trying a bit too hard with the character's thoughts in between every line of dialogue. Her thoughts seem a little fake and unrealistic for a twelve-year-old, and I agree with fictionwriter- they could go in their own paragraph.

    It might just be me, but in the first paragraph, I wasn't sure of how having her own room connected to her being able to eavesdrop.

    But overall, I thought this was interesting and I would keep reading.

  4. I really love the premise here, but I think the writing needs to be tightened up a bit. I agree with the other comments...It's very confusing reading the main character's thoughts in between the parents' conversation.

    I also think you could jump right into thier conversation about Veeve, and skip the part about the old lady. It doesn't move the story along. The reader cares about "the good stuff"...what the parents are going to say about the MC!

    I also thought the MC was a boy at first. (Maybe that's just me.)

    If you can just tighten up the conversation a bit, your opening would flow better.

    Good luck with this. I would read more!

  5. The beginning isn't very logical, I think. Is she really not sharing a bedroom because she lives in a spaceship that's shaped like two houses stuck together, or is it because she's an only child, or because they have enough rooms for everyone, or something else? The shape of the ship wouldn't determine whether she got her own room or not. You have the same issue with the kitchen not 'normally' being within eavesdropping distance. ANd I'm picturing your spaceship as two houses drifting thru space.

    I did think the few lines about the old woman were necessary, because they show us the kind of man Dad is, and helps with his characterization. He comes off cold and uncaring, and Mom's calling her daughter a brat, and it makes me wonder how I'm supposed to feel about her parents. They don't come off as very nice.

    If the problem is that she's too young to be doing magic, and she's doing it anyway, perhaps spend more time showing us how she worked her eavesdropping spell, and perhaps have her react in thought to Mom saying she was too young, rather than all the other thoughts. Spend more time on the things that are important, and less on the unimportant stuff.

  6. I think you might be setting up a very interesting world here: spaceships shaped like houses, quarantines, people dying because they're "pulled under", magic that requires balancing against the current. Interesting.

    A couple thoughts:

    Consider taking out this: "This conversation was boring. Talk about me, I thought." As soon as you mentioned "boring", I had to fight really hard not to feel bored, which is not what you want a reader to feel.

    Watch out for repetition. This goes for both the usage of her inner thoughts to move things along (that can work once or twice, but not repeatedly), and repetition within her inner thoughts eg: she says twice that her dad's chewing is gross/yuck.

    Al best!

  7. I love this premise and would keep reading just to learn more. Some of the description is a little overdone (no need to reference chewing more than once, and "squishy-tongue noises" makes me wonder what that is more than hearing the sounds of chewing). Also, the conversation didn't quite make sense. Why would the mother suddenly be calling her a brat?

    But these writing issues are not enough to get me to stop reading. I'm hooked!

  8. This story opening really fell flat for me. It's all telling/world-building and nothing about your character.

    I think this needs a re-write from a different point in the story.