Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #24

TITLE: The Underground Empire of Joseph Wunderkind
GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

A few days after his fifteenth birthday, Joseph Wunderkind discovered a broom closet in the basement of his apartment building where no broom closet should be. It wasn’t that a broom closet shouldn’t be in the basement, it’s just that he hadn’t noticed this particular broom closet yesterday, or the day before that, or in all the long summers that Joseph had escaped boredom and chores through exploring the dark basement.

Oh, it wasn’t like the broom closet was obvious. Joseph had only noticed it after he tripped at the bottom of the stairwell and caught himself by leaning against the wall. When he stood, he took his hand from the wall and a thick layer of dirt and dust came with it. Beneath the grime was a door made of a highly-polished wood entirely different from the doors leading to the tenants’ storage rooms. Joseph used his jacket to wipe the rest of the door clean and found a brass plate reading BROOM CLOSET. Not the least in the strange features of the door was the fact that the hinges were on the outside. This meant that the door opened outward into the hall, as though it were designed to keep something inside from getting out rather than preventing unauthorized people from getting in. The door’s handle was inset into the wood, but didn’t open when he pulled on it. The door was locked.

Why would a broom closet be locked?


  1. great writing and i'm hooked. maybe break up the paragraphs a little more, esp. the last one.

  2. It's an interesting premise. Your voice is good. I'm wondering if you realize how close your character's name is to Nathan Bransford's book? His is Jacob Wonderbar. Maybe you could open with a little more action? Have your character fall down the stairs and land at this door he's never seen before.

  3. I like this. Especially the title is great. The first sentence is telling. you could avoid this if you changed the order of events slightly. Let him fall down the stairs, clean the door and then ponder why he hadn't seen it before.

  4. totally hooked. loved this one. the only thing that made me wonder a little is why hinges on the outside would be a door designed to keep someone in? After thinking about it, I suppose it's because someone on the inside could unscrew the hinges, assuming they had the tools to do so. Anyway, this would not have stopped me, just a small detail that wasn't immediately obvious to me why that was true.

  5. I thought you had an interesting premise here and a nice set up. We're hit with the mystery right away.

    But like the previous entry, everything is told by a narrator. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Joseph in action. Let him fall down the stairs and find the door. Let him clean off the name plate etc. Allow Joseph to act, to speak, and think. It's his story after all.

  6. This feels more like a middle grade than a YA to me, both in tone and premise.

    I like writing to be a little cleaner, but that's a personal thing.

    I do think that you should cut down on repetition. The words "broom closet" are used four times and the words "door" or "doors" are used seven times.

  7. You had me intrigued with the title alone. I definitely want to read more but I agree with the comments about showing Jacob in action and cutting down on the repetition. I also found myself counting the number of times you used the words "broom closet." You might check out how Suzanne Collins gets her character underground in GREGOR THE OVERLANDER.

  8. 'Broom closet' was feeling overused to me by the end of the piece. I agree with those above that this should start with action. Show us Joseph falling down the stairs and discovering it.