Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Secret Agent #18

GENRE: Young Adult Mystery

I once tried to figure out how much I'd spent on comic books since I started collecting years ago and came up with a figure that would make Bill Gates freak.

I made sure my parents never saw the sheet of calculations.

It started innocently enough. I'd switched schools in fourth grade. Sitting alone at lunchtime with new-kid stink all over me, I'd noticed a few kids trading comics back and forth. Desperate for friends, I jumped in hip deep and went to the store right after school to blow my allowance on some.
Not knowing what I was looking for, it was hit or miss. I ended up with some vampire crap for girls, a few for kids in diapers, and some Japanese Manga that I didn't understand even though it was in English. I found out later you need to read it backwards. But I also got some superhero ones. A Spider-Man, an X-Men, and a Batman that I took home to read.

I didn't find any new friends, everyone having moved on to baseball cards by the next week, but I did find an exciting new obsession. I was hooked. What was not to like about superheroes who could lift a city bus and always got the girl? Who, by the way, wore costumes more revealing than a stripper's and had the bodies to match.

Fast forward to seven years later, I had boxes of them stored in acid free bags with cardboard backing to ensure their preservation.


  1. Ah the slippery slope of comic-book collecting! I totally feel for your protag and would absolutely read on. :)

  2. I love this phrase, " stink all over me." Great imagery and voice. I also love this, "I ended up with some vampire crap for girls..." What an excellent way to say, "Hey, I'm a boy!" without actually saying it. Great writing! I would keep reading.

  3. Such great phrases--new kid stink, make Bill Gates freak, etc.

    Love the voice. I'm hooked

  4. I agree with previous notes...great stuff. Would definitely read more. Wondering about the BB card collection too!

  5. Great voice! It completely hooked me and got me wanting to read more, despite having no idea what the plot actually is.
    Only useful thing I can suggest is that the sentence "A Spider-man, an X-Men, and a Batman" seems a little clunky to me. Maybe it's too formal compared to the rest of the paragraph. Could you make it a little more casual? Like, "Spider-man and Batman came home with me..."

  6. Great voice. I loved the "new-kid stink" line. This sounds pretty spot on. The stripper line caught me off guard until you told that it was 7 years later. I'm interested to see where this is headed.

  7. The new kid stink line is the winner so far :) I liked the voice. One word of caution - if your genre is mystery then it might do to set up some of that in the opening - even if its just a tease. The focus on comic books and superheroes for the first page makes me think I am reading in a different genre than mystery. Just a thought.

  8. Love the voice!

    I agree with generation in that it would be great to set up some of the mystery in the beginning. But I bet you do that in the first chapter anyway. :)

  9. Wow, guess I'm not the only fan of "new kid stink". Ha ha!

    This is a nice opening with a good pace to it. It sounds real and who doesn't like comic books? Straight off, I'm inclined to like your protag. I would definitely read on.

  10. There's a voice here that I can relate to. Someone who is easy to be friends with. I especially like, as others above, new kid stink. I know this is only the first 250 words, and there is only so much you can fit in here. I know there is still the rest of the book to go :-)
    But, I feel like other than voice, and an interest in comics, I'm not given a hint of any conflict here. Just a hint would be nice :-)

  11. I love the subject matter, your audience is clear, and you’ve got a great voice. I would have loved a hint of what the mystery will be. Could you add it to the “fast forward seven years” paragraph?

    I think there is some room to trim and tighten. Some of the writing felt redundant. For example, you don’t need the comment about his parents finding the calculations, the Bill Gates comment made the point. Also, “it was hit or miss” can be cut; the list of what you bought makes it clear.

    Great start.

  12. Great tone and voice. I also think you've set up a very likeable main character.
    Good luck!

  13. Comic books have always fascinated me, but from a "what's the big craze?" point of view, not to say that I didn't fight over the comic section of the Sunday paper with my brother or enjoy the occasional Spiderman comic book.That being said,I'm not drawn in only because I don't see the kernal of a mystery here. Where is the anomally, the somthing out of place or missing to get me asking questions and reading on. Tighten and focus, but keep the nice conversational tone.