Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #33

GENRE: MG-Humorous fantasy

I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be a good day, but death really wasn’t on my radar screen.

Everything seemed normal until I saw a hobgoblin in the third row of the bleachers. Sitting between two girls and wearing an Indiana University sweatshirt was a little guy with gray skin and a long, pointy nose. No one else really seemed to notice him. Maybe it was because his hood was pulled up and they thought he was just an ugly seventh grader.

Or maybe it was because the girls he was sitting between were both hot and he would have to be on fire for anyone to be looking at him instead. He only caught my attention because I felt the weight of his stare.

But I had more important things going on. I was at first base waiting for Derek to hit me home with the tying run. Luckily, he got a hold of the next pitch, sending a line drive over the head of the second basemen. It bounced into center field right at the feet of Jay Vance, aka Mr. Missile.

Fabulous,” I grunted to myself. That’s exactly where I didn’t want the ball to go.

I was halfway to second base when I realized that something was wrong. I mean, besides just seeing a hobgoblin watching a baseball game.

My mom was yelling at me from behind the chain-linked fence. “Run, Ben, run!” But then the sounds became muffled and echoed in my ears.


  1. Great opening. I get a feel for the MC and I'm left wondering what is going to happen next. It starts with action with a bit of suspense which is great. The first line really hooks you in. I'd keep reading.

  2. A hobgoblin in the bleachers--I love it! (I also love saying the word hobgoblin.) I'm not sure why the girls don't know it, I'm guessing the main character has some magical power to see them.

    I am totally drawn in by the game, the goblin, and the mom screaming at him. I think it's a great begining. I'd read on.

  3. I love the voice, but I have no idea what a "hobgoblin" is. My guess: Hobgoblin shows up and only Ben can see him. Ben's life is coming to an end? Obviously, Ben's life can't end here. Need more clarification, but I would keep reading. Cute.

  4. I love the tone and the voice of this. You immediately set up a very likeable MC. His voice is clear and funny.

    And I love that he cares more about baseball than about the hobgoblin in the bleachers!

  5. I like this! Even though I like your first sentence, I would almost start with the second paragraph: "Everything seemed normal until..."

    You have a good voice going, and I would keep reading!

  6. This is great - hooked! Only suggestions - I would take "really" out of the second paragraph and take anon's advice above. I wish I could buy this right now to read to my son tonight!

  7. I think that your first sentence runs a bit long - something like "but I wasn't expecting death" instead would be more succint.

    But I love the idea of bleacher hobgoblins, and I think you nailed the MG voice! Would love to know what happens next!

  8. I most enjoyed the sports action in this piece. It feels quick and active. Good start, and it seems that part especially would appeal to MG boys.

    Overall, it could use some polish, but I enjoyed it. Be wary of overusing such words as "was/wasn't" and "really" and "just." If you count those, they're quite frequent.

  9. Ooooh! I really like this. Great voice, great first line, great sense of the mc. I'm hooked, and have not much to critique, because this is very well written. Good Luck!!!

  10. Good tone, great voice. I'm just going to second (or third?) the above suggestion about the first line. You've labeled this as "humorous fantasy," but talking about death in the first line doesn't seem to fit with a humorous story. Having a hobgoblin in the bleachers between two hot girls is enough to catch a reader's interest! :)

  11. I like this. The only thing I'd take out is the word 'Luckily'. I know it's lucky that Derek got hold of the next pitch, but landing at Jay's feet doesn't seem so lucky. When Ben said 'Luckily', I thought the sequence was going to end with him getting to home base, so I was a little put off, which distracted me from the ending, which was otherwise great.

  12. I hate to be a me-too-er, but I really liked this. Extremely strong first line. A strong consistent voice - I'm hooked.

    The words, "tying run" didn't seem to fit for me, or the "Fantastic" - though the latter may be perfectly fitting for the character.

    Want to read more!

  13. I like the voice of the narrator as it seems from the beginning that he would be an interesting guide to take me along on whatever adventure he is about to have. I thought the small detail of not only mentioning the hobgoblin but adding that he wore an Indiana University sweatshirt was very fine description. That people may have thought he was just an ugly seventh grader was very funny. It needs to be made more clear if people can see him or if Ben is the only one who can. As it is written now, that is unclear - maybe because of the use of the word "really" as if anyone else noticed him. I can't find much to criticize except small choices of words. That this is a school setting and Jay Vance is another boy maybe makes the choice of his name "Mr. Missle" unnecessaruly confusing - if only for a second. In a school setting, we automatically assocaite the use of the word "Mr." anyone with a teacher and not another kid. But, I like the beginning and would read on to see where it is going.

  14. I really like the opening line of the second paragraph, but I think it's a bit muffled by the preceding line, "death really wasn't on my radar screen." Strange to have a BIG observation like that in ANY case, but the hobgoblin line is so much more interesting and specific and creative than the more standard-hooky-feeling "death" line, so I'd question if that really needs to be there. From then on, though, the fish-out-of-water hobgoblin stuff going on is fun and plenty intriguing!