Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #44

TITLE: TELL THE TRUTH
GENRE: Middle Grade

Maggie Woodson peeked over the edge of her cinder block fence. Her best friend Samantha boosted her up from below. From the street, only Maggie’s sunglasses and a mushroom cap of brown curls were visible.

“My back is breaking,” Samantha complained. “Do you see her yet?”

Maggie shushed her. “Subject is approaching from the South.”

“Like you know which way is South,” Samantha grumbled.

Maggie raised her dad’s clunky binoculars to her eyes. She zoomed in on a wild-haired blob bouncing down the sidewalk. With a twist of the knobs, a clear image of her mother came into focus. Mrs. Woodson jogged towards their house, fists jabbing the air like a prizefighter.

“I have her in sight,” Maggie said. “Subject turned around and is now jogging backwards.”

“Why does she always jog backwards?” Samantha asked.

“Because she’s weird,” Maggie said. “It’s a known fact. School bus approaching from the North.”

“Why are you spying on her, anyway?”

“Something’s wrong with her. She’s taking all these pills and being sneaky about it...”

Bang! The rickety old school bus backfired. Black smoke belched from its tailpipe. Maggie watched Mrs. Woodson dart left and dive behind a spikey yucca plant in Samantha’s front yard, like an actor taking cover in some shoot-‘em-up movie.

Maggie’s mouth dropped open. “My mom just face planted in your lava rocks!”

Mrs. Woodson’s head popped up from behind the yucca. Maggie’s eyes narrowed. “Game on, Mom,” she whispered. You can run from me, but you can’t hide.

22 comments:

Betsy said...

Please imagine the last sentence is in italics - the formatting didn't go through. Thanks! :)

Katherine said...

Loved this excerpt. I think you hit all the right notes for middle grade-humor, action, voice. The scene reminded me of one of my childhood faves ("Harriet the Spy"). I also liked the twist at the end when it turns out Maggie's spying on her own mother. I'd definitely read on.

Great job! (And don't feel bad about the italics-same thing happened in mine!)

Mary said...

Absolutely, 100% love your entry. It has voice and an awesome plot thus far. A perfect balance and great writing to boot. I predict this will be a real show stealer. Thanks for sharing and I'll add good luck but I don't think you'll need it!

J.R. Wortham said...

Betsy, this is great. I loved the twist at the end that she's spying on her own mom. I'm with Mary, no luck needed. You'll do great!

KyCactus said...

I very much enjoy the way this opens. These girls sound silly and goofy and the visual image of them peering over the wall is quite funny. I like the fact they're spying on the mom, but the way it is delivered in the dialogue felt a little unnatural for me. It seems like that question would have surfaced from Samantha before they ended up in that position. I like this very much though.

Anonymous said...

Really nice job! I especially liked the comment, "Like you know which way is left." And "face planted" is totally a phrase that age uses right now.

My only quick nitpick is that I didn't like "You can run from me, but you can't hide" - seems a little cliche.

Awesome!

cheerful hiker said...

This is intriguing.

The dialog is really good, sounds like young teenagers. Maggie definitely comes over as the leader and Mrs. Woodson is definitely weird.

Maggie thinking of her mom as Mrs. Woodson gives a feeling of distance between them

I think your third sentence is a point of view shift.

Jennie said...

Absolutely loved this. :) I made the mistake of reading it at work and almost laughed out loud.

Rachel Searles said...

This is really cute. Funny dialogue is clearly your strength :)

Robbin said...

Adorable. I already like Maggie and hope the story doesn't turn sad. I would enjoy reading more :) Good luck.

KW Penndorf said...

Your writing flows wonderfully. I like how your descriptions captivate the reader, and yet the re-stating of the action via Maggie to her friend doesn't slow the reader or make us feel "we've already heard this/know this.. move on already." It's light and witty, but I sense something darker here - great contrast between a little fun spying and what she might actually discover. Great job! My only critique - I agree with Cheerful Hiker in that sentence three has a switch in pov.

Hope Roberson said...

Great back and forth between the two girls! Wonderful voice and I so want to know what's going to happen next!

A.J. said...

Loved this! Great voice, good humor, and nice combination of action and dialogue. Well done! I wish this were my entry. :)

Dana said...

Adorable! I'm wondering why she's taking pills and sneaking around too! Good luck!

Bron said...

I really like this. It reminded me of Harriet the Spy too! I also love that her name is Maggie, because every Maggie I know has been like this. The only bit I didn't like so much was Samantha asking why Maggie was spying on her mother. It didn't feel natural because surely it's something Samantha would have asked before they started spying? I think the information about the pills can wait a few sentences later on; leave the mystery of why Maggie is spying on her mother and let it unfold as we read on. Great job.

Rin said...

Oh, this is really cute. There's something about to happen with her mother, I can feel it.

I do think that you might want to delete the "That's a fact." comment after the "Because she's weird." statement. It sounds a bit redundant? But love the style!

Joy said...

Well done. Everything about this excerpt is great. I would definitely read on.

Anonymous said...

I'm hooked! How soon until I can read the rest of it? Subject engaged...

Secret Agent said...

NAILED IT! The only thing that felt rushed or unnatural in this otherwise perfectly paced opening was "She's taking all these pills and being sneaky about it..." which is a tough line to tuck into an otherwise lighthearted intro (couldn't Maggie say something that hints at her having a good reason to spy but doesn't spell it out so bluntly?) But that's me trying pretty hard to nitpick--this is awesome and ridiculously enjoyable. Bravo!

Carmen said...

I agree with everyone else! Love the tone. Great job and I'd definitely continue reading!

RedCard10 said...

Well done! Effortless to read and you've succeeded in painting a vivid picture here. Lines like "Subject is approaching from the South" gave me an immediate idea of what this girl is like (funny, smart, takes herself a bit seriously but likes to joke too). I would agree that this line might just be a bit too on the nose: "She’s taking all these pills and being sneaky about it..." Consider withholding what she's being sneaky about. Perhaps you can show her mother taking pills in another scene instead of telling us outright here.

RachelMaryBean said...

I would read this. I loved the 'like you know which way is South' line! I laughed.