Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #42

TITLE: Weaving a Net is Better than Praying for Fish at the Edge of the Water
GENRE: middle grade mystery

Reena likes Tony Arias, so I’m keeping an eye on him.

“Sure, I can tail him!” I said when she asked me after school. Then I jumped up, zipped close my jacket, and flipped its hood over my head.

“Ninja-style!” I shouted. Behind us, the metal double doors of our school banged open and another wave of kids poured into the yard. Crouching low on one leg and splaying the other, I grinned at Reena
and raised a finger to my lips.

But she shrieked, “No!” and waved her hands in front of her face. “Get up!” she whispered urgently.

“Come on, Allie. You know that’s not what I mean.”

“Allen,” I corrected and stood slowly. I was about to fall anyway.

She rolled her eyes. “We’re too old to be acting like tomboys.” That was generous of her actually; Reena doesn’t usually count herself with me as a tomboy. Then she smiled. “Besides we’re in a new school now.”

“It’s my name,” I said, but I smiled too. I sat down on the brick wall beside her. Surrounded by the after school bustle and soothed by the September breeze, we leaned into each other, a kind of sideways hug. This was going to be the best year. I was in a new school finally, and my best friend was here with me.

“Anyway, just watch Tony, okay? I heard he takes the 17 bus. That’s your bus, right?” she said. “Be sub- I mean, act normal.”


  1. Love the first line! I actually thought that the narrator was suspicious of the Tony at first, and that caught my interest.

    The middle of this section was a bit confusing for me because the conversation doesn't seem to flow together. The MC corrects Reena about the name, she comments on the MC's behavior, and the MC comes back to the name. I'm not sure if this segment is intended to call attention to the name (which it did), but I had to read it over a few times.

    Also, based on this section, I have no idea whether your MC is female or male. At first, with the name Allen, I thought the MC was male. Then with Reena's reference to them both being tomboys, I began to think the MC was female. I'm not concerned about gender in particular, but it may distract some readers.

    Good luck! :)

  2. I like the contrast between the personalities of the two characters. I love the opening line and the MC's actions during this scene. I already like the MC! I'm not sure what the story will be about, though. It reads as if it's setting up for a story about the changes in a friendship, but the description says it's a mystery.

  3. I can totally see two friends being "ninja" to spy on the cute guy. i think my best friend and i did it several times! This would appeal to middle's all about cute boys!

  4. Nice description of the character crouching. I'm not sure "It's my name, I said, but" is needed in paragraph 8.

  5. This is not my entry, but it is a manuscript I've beta-ed and I wanted to point out (since the lovely author didn't) that it is multicultural. Just in case the Secret Agent might be interested in that tidbit.

    Nice work!

  6. This sounds really cute!

    Allie pulls her hood over her head so she can go "undercover" as Allen, correct?

    I suggest you slip in a statement about how old the girls are. You could easiy mention the grade they're in.

    I'm really interested in how your title plays into the story, but I wonder if it will attract MG readers.

    I love the "Be-sub" comment!

    Good luck!

  7. I love this dialogue! Oh my heart... "Ninja-style"?!


    That'll get me every time ( : I'm such a sucker for ninjas!

    I was a bit confused as to whether Allen was ACTUALLY her real name, or if it was her self appointed tomboy name. If its actually her name, maybe add an extra line like:

    Yeah. Allen. For real, right? I mean, who names their baby GIRL Allen? My parents are crazy.

    Something like that to clear it up for the dunces like me who aren't getting it!

    Happy writing!!

  8. 'pulled close my jacket' isn't correct.

    I agree with the first comment about addressing the name, and skipping around, so maybe adjusting that would help the flow.

    I really liked the first line:)

  9. Nice! The other folk gave some good feedback. I'd add that some of this feels a bit too much like a set up. Having one character remind the other that they're in a new school, or explaining their name/nickname, etc., sort of feels stiff or scripted to me. Would that be necessary to say if these are best friends who already know it?

    Might not matter so much for middle grade, but could be something to watch for.

  10. It's nice and flows very well for a MG. "Ninja Style" brought a smile. The part about tomboys can be made to flow a bit better. There's an echo and that can be easily done away with.

    Good work!

  11. I like this, overall. I think there's a bit of forced conversation, like has already been pointed out—namely the "we're in a new school" bothered me a bit. If you want to keep it in I think it could be phrased better. If they're, for example, starting high school or a new grade or wherever, really, that would probably come off as a bit more natural to say in a conversation.
    Other than that I thought the 'ninja style' comment was really cute and I'm inclined to like your MC from the get-go. The first line's great—I feel like it's a bit slow from that amazing first line to the actual set-up of Allen keeping an eye on him. It's not bad writing at all, but I feel like it could perhaps be a tiny bit shorter to get to the point more quickly.
    Overall I really liked this!

  12. I like it a lot. I love Allie's personality and you do such a great job of showing not telling. I like her friend. I think they will make a good duo. I love that there is already boy stuff going on. And that there are already obstacles to overcome. You have set up a really nice beginning here.