Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #15

GENRE: Middle grade contemporary adventure

The rest of the world is asleep.

I know some doctors and police and other people work at night, and they’re out there somewhere, but sitting on my bed, holding my flashlight, I feel like no one else is awake. This is my favorite time of day. Night.

I rule the night, as much as any ten-year old boy can without fangs or claws or any other cool creature-of-the-night superpowers As long as I’m quiet, I have the house to myself. Sometimes I watch TV, sometimes I play computer games, but either way I have to turn the volume down so low I can’t really enjoy the crashes and explosions.

When I need to be quiet, I read books and a bunch of stuff online, too. So far this year, I’ve taught myself Klingon and Esperanto, so I’ll be ready in case earth is invaded by space aliens.

Some nights the best entertainment comes from real-life silent movies I watch from my bedroom window. Like tonight, the lady next door is bathing her cat in the kitchen sink. Or trying to. The cat has wrapped its legs around the faucet and every time the lady pries one leg off and puts it in the water, the cat pulls back and wedges its whole body between the faucet and the wall. Then the process repeats. I wonder which one will give up first. It must be an amazingly stinky cat to need a bath at 4AM.


  1. You do a great job setting the scene and setting the mood of someone up while most of the rest of the world is asleep, but not much is happening here in your first 250. I don't really know who the protagonist is, (other than a possible insomniac and a sci-fi fan), and there's no hint of the adventures he will encounter. Unless most or all of the book or the instigating event happens during this twilight time, you might consider starting the novel somewhere else (a different time / place) and saving this for later in the manuscript.

  2. The title alludes to something unusual about the narrator, and indeed, he is. You've given us a bit of 'creepy' and I wonder where it's going to go.

    One phrase jumped out as maybe not appropriate to a ten-year-old: "best entertainment comes from real-life silent movies". Just a thought.

  3. Will the target audience have a clue what Esperanto (or Klingon for that matter) is?

    This is well written and the narrator is taking time setting us up; not rushing or blowing our heads off with expo. All great stuff.

    So far, we're just setting up status quo. That can work fine as long as the writing carries it (which it does).

    But injecting a hint of conflict to come could go a long ways to keep me (and a younger less focused audience) tuned in until we get there!

    Best of luck with this.

  4. I love this. In this case, I think the slow setup will work nicely, although others might disagree. Your voice is excellent.

  5. I loved this! I really enjoy the MC and all that he does and observes when he's awake at night. The voice is great and I enjoyed funny pieces like the stinky cat needing a bath at 4 a.m.

  6. I think your MC has some interesting quirks. Favorite part of day being night, teaching himself Klingon and Esperanto just in case. I got the real-life silent movies and the cat process is awesome. I do think it would be a little stronger though if everything before the cat bath was condensed so we could get to the action sooner. Overall though, it's well done.

  7. Some of the lines feel a bit long. There are some punctuation errors, which I'm sure you've noticed already so I won't point them out.

    It feels a bit old for MG in parts, but I liked it.

    I agree with streamlining it a bit to move it along. But I like this.

  8. oh i love this! i am immediately interested in this nocturnal boy who not only plays video games (not that interesting bc all boys do that i think) but watches 'movies' out the window, and gives his commentary. i like his perspective so far. like the title too and definitely want to read more!

  9. For me, I think you can go even simpler and stick with the details surrounding movies (with the sound too low to enjoy the action) and the things he observes out his window.

    I don't need to know about learning klingon or computer games, etc. Not yet.

    That opening line sticks with me so much. It makes me want to go with your MC through his journey.

    And this is totally nitpicky, but couldn't the cat (do people bathe their cats?) just be a small terrier dog (they hate water too). And how does your MC react to what he sees? I'd like to see that.

    I really love the potential in this!!

  10. Last line's hilarious :) I like the set up but felt like there was a lot of telling.
    I'd read more!!

  11. I really like this a lot. I think what will keep the reader invested is not a lot of action, but the high tension you've created in the writing.

    It starts out quiet, and then gets quieter and quieter in each paragraph. First it's a quiet night, then movies with low sound, then reading, then the absence of sound as he watches out the window. You could heighten this effect by adding "really" or "especially" in the fourth paragraph when he talks about needing to be quieter.

    I'm really hoping all this tension you've built is going to break into something fabulous. I'd definitely read on.

  12. Great voice. But I don't know who the MC really is. It's a little too much scene setting. I also felt like it contradicted itself when he said he ruled the night but had to be quiet. He rules the night... But with strict rules from those around him. Make sure you think about every word you write. Treat them like precious stones that need to be placed carefully.