Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Middle Grade Are You Hooked? #8

GENRE: Middle Grade Ataripunk

Tell us a story of when you were young.
-Ella M.

"Spark, this isn't funny. You're always doing stuff like this and I'm getting tired of it."

I can hear Lisa's footsteps as she passes the door of the closet. She's such a butt muffin.

"Spark!" she squeals. "I mean it. It's getting dark, in here!"

I count to fifteen, slowly. I know it's not nice to let her sweat it out but it also wasn't nice for her to hide the extra joystick. She only did it because she didn't want me playing Super Breakout against Ted
while Casper was in the kitchen getting another bowl of Frankenberry.

"All right, that's it."

I can hear her breathing. I think I see her shadow blocking the light coming in at the bottom of the door. There's no air in this stupid closet and I'm sweating like crazy in here. I try to take a breath and start
to feel all chokey, like I can't get enough. God, what if I died in here all because of Lisa, Queen of the
Butt Muffins, and the mystery of the amazing joystick? What kind of life would that have been? I haven't even kissed a guy. I did kiss my Barbie beauty head, once. The one you can pull a string in the back and make her hair grow. I only did it for practice but it was sick. Tasted like old Sky Bar that'd been sitting in a cupboard for about fifty years.


  1. Okay, someone needs to tell me what Ataripunk is! :-)

    I was really confused by the first line/quote. Aside from that, I think this is good. The dialogue could be tightened a tad and I was slightly confused as to whether or not Butt Muffin was standing outside the closet or just passing the closet. I also wonder why the MC is concerned that she hasn't kissed a boy yet. I know I'm like a 100 years old but I think it's a stretch for a 12(?)-year-old to be stressed because she hasn't been kissed yet.

  2. I'd probably read on some more just to get a feel for what Ataripunk is, but I'm feeling a bit left behind in the stream of consciousness. And though it's not my particular type of story, your details and descriptions are fantastic!

  3. This was well written but it didn't pull me in. A girl hid in a closet as a prank on her friend.

    I didn't get why Butt Muffin would be so upset. If she just goes and plays her game, Spark will get awful lonely wherever she's hiding and come out. And you say she does this all the time, so by now it's old news. And how is it getting dark in the house? They're obviously in a house with electricity if they're playing video games, and Spark can see the light under the door, so they have light. If it gets darker, cant they flick on another light?

    I just don't see where it's going or what your hook is.

  4. I was confused by the first line as well.

    I also had to re-read this a few times to know who was hiding. For ex. I didn't understand when Lisa said "Spark, I mean it. It's getting dark in here." (I thought she was the one in the closet.)

    It seems to me that she doesn't like Lisa at all, so why then is she hanging out with her? (I'm interested to know. This might be a good plot point!)

    I'm not sure why you mention the kissing thing right then. Instead, maybe try introducing the MC's problem or some more intriquing incident.

    I really like the voice though. I get a strong feeling of Spark's personality right off the bat. I have a feeling this will be a fun read, but you need to make the opening tighter so that the reader will want to read more.

    Good luck!

  5. I liked the voice too- a lot. But I also think I'd start with her hiding- once we know that the MC is hiding, we'll get her friends'dialogue.

    I just hit in a parked car a few nights ago (waiting to ambush my son with confetti eggs) and it was soooo hot, so that part made me grin-I think, any hider would have that instant association.

    I didn't mind bringing up the kissing then- thoughts are random like that. And I thought it was funny. I totally felt and smelt that plastic barbie face. Overall, I really liked this and would want to read more.

  6. My biggest problem with this is the setting. Atari, Casper, Frankenberry, and even the insult "Butt Muffin" are about 30 years old. *I* would read on, but that's because I grew up on the Atari and want to see if Spark ever played Adventure and hates that stupid bat as much as I did, but I'd worry about a living middle grader, born around the turn of the century, would be able to follow or care about any of this.

    That said, I like the voice. I think the opening line would benefit from more specificity (as opposed to "stuff like this," which tells us nothing). As I said, I would read on.

    But then I'm over 30 years old too ;-)

  7. I had similar thoughts as Barbara and Adam Heine, and I did really like the voice of the character. I also had concerns about *dating* the story like this with the old references because a MG reader wouldn't have any idea what those things were.

    If the dialogue could be tightened (get rid of the vague factor) and the confusing setup as to the darkness, who's hiding, etc, this would be pretty interesting.

    One more thing: If Spark was intentionally hiding/counting/etc, why the sudden panic attack? It felt like it came out of nowhere... if Spark wasn't so calm in the beginning... let us know right away she's forcing herself to stay in the closet, it wouldn't feel so jarring.