Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #2

TITLE: Liza Bird
GENRE: Contemporary Middle Grade Fiction

The words on the page looked like alphabet soup. I tried to read the schedule, I really did. Sure, I picked out a few words like I always do, but I couldn’t make any sense of how they fit together. I tried squinting. I rubbed my eyes. And I concentrated super-extra hard. Still, my brain could not arrange those words into anything readable.

Everyone else started talking about how great middle school would be long before my seat in elementary school was even cold. Rolling in the poison ivy in my back yard was more appealing than having to find my way around a big, unfamiliar school. Or having to figure out how to get by undetected all over again. Seemed to me the only good thing about it was that I got to sign up for art. And I’d get to go every day instead of just once a week like in elementary school. Unless, of course, I screwed things up again and my parents pulled me from the class to put me in study hall.

Beside me, the office door swung open and closed. Other kids walked in and out like they knew what they were doing. I watched them scan their own schedules, walk down the hallway, and disappear into classrooms. So I tried again. But I only got past, “Liza Dawson – Grade 6, Milton Middle School” before the words and numbers were a jumbled up mess again.


  1. Hooked. The first line pulled me in, and I felt the pain of this girl.

    Wish I had any suggestions for you, but I really enjoyed it. Great job!

  2. I thought you had a great opening line. It gets us right into the story and hits us right away with a problem.

    You lost me in the second parg. because nothing happened. It goes right into back story.

    I'd suggest cutting it all and go straight to the third parg. Keep us in the story, in what's happening now. That's what I'm interested in as a reader. After I get to know and empathize with your MC, then I'll be interested in learning her back story, but for your opening, perhaps just stick with what is happening in the moment.

  3. I agree that the second paragraph is backstory. And try to avoid starting sentences in a row with "I".

    I would keep reading.

  4. The first paragraph drew me in, but by the end I expected to have some idea why the MC can't read. It sounds like dyslexia, but she seemed surprised (I think) by her inability.

  5. I agree with the second paragraph feeling out of place -- you start us in an engaging scene rife with tension (Why does she need to figure out the text right now?) but then switch to backstory that, at first, I find hard to connect with the opening.

    The most intriguing aspect to me at the moment is the POV question of who Liza is talking to. Who is she trying to convince in that second sentence?

  6. Hooked. And I completely understand why the mc is worried about becoming invisible in the new environment. Her salvation will be art class - no words.

    Maybe there are better ways to handle that paragraph (I don't know, have that same problem myself), but it didn't bother me because I thought it was worthwhile info to know.

    And I like the voice - so I'd read more.

  7. This is a great beginning. I want to know what's wrong with the MC. Bad eyesight, dyslexia, another disability? Well done. But I agree that the 2nd paragraph needs to be moved to somewhere later in the story.

  8. Othere than what's been said, this is what hit me.
    Do kids actually say elementary school?
    I'm not sure that would be the age groups language. Hmmm?
    Love the first line, and the rest!
    Good luck! : )

  9. This sort of confused me to the point where I didn't want to keep reading because I kept getting caught up in this question: why, if she's dyslexic, wouldn't someone have figured this out by now? Wouldn't she be getting help by this point, help with her schedule, with getting around?

    If she's not dyslexic then I think that should be clear so that I don't keep tripping myself up with that.

    Did you know there is a literary agent named Liza Dawson?

    Writing is solid here.