Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #10

GENRE: MG Contemporary

He was the mangiest mutt you ever saw—matted up fur the color of mud and bone skinny. That dog came out of nowhere, walked up onto the porch and plopped his ugly self down.

Dad hefted a box from the back of the U-Haul truck. I could see the dog from where I sat on the bumper, but Dad couldn’t. He almost tripped over him. “What was that, Mike?”

“It’s a dog!” I hustled to the porch for a closer look. The mutt didn’t move a muscle.

Dad set down the box, bent over the dog, then stood up. “Whew! That critter is filthy.” Dirt and Dad were enemies. He clapped his hands and yelled, “Scoot!”

The dog didn’t scoot. He didn’t even flinch.

“Skeedaddle,” Dad tried. “Get on home now, ya hear!”

The dog lifted his head and looked at us. It was one sad look.

“Can’t we keep him?" I held my breath while Dad eyed me, then the dog. “Please? I’ll clean him up!”

“Well, he’s sure in no hurry to leave.” Dad scratched his buzz like he was thinking hard. “We might be able to break in a new recruit, although I’d say this ol’ fella has seen a battle or two already.”

I emptied my lungs. “Really? Thanks, Dad!”

The dog thunked his tail a couple of times like he was saying “thanks” too. Then he put his big head between his big paws and fell asleep right where he was.


  1. Great voice. Always love a good MG dog story. :)
    Nice beginning.

  2. Agreed. Good voice here. Though as Kristen said this is a "dog story" so what is it about your story that makes it different from other dog stories? If you could show that in your opening, you'd be ahead of the pack. (no pun intended). I also was curious about the title and it's relevance to the opening while I was reading it too. Not a deal breaker, but left me with questions.

  3. This sounds like a cute story! Good voice. Good dialogue. Well done!

  4. I love the voice you've introduced here! I was a little bit surprised by how quick the dad was to allow his child to keep the dog, especially since the dad clearly hates a mess (and dogs can be messy!). Maybe the two would argue about it for a bit longer? Just an idea, but the pace did feel a little rushed. I am definitely interested in the narrator and wondering where the story goes next.

  5. As other commenters wrote- great voice! It's a very conversational tone, which I liked. There didn't seem to be much tension in the first 250 words though, I'm not sure why I should keep reading. The Dad almost seems a little too willing to adopt a stray dog on the spot.

    I'd have to know more about the book than the first 250 words, but I am concerned there are quite a lot of excellent MG books about dogs, so be careful that there is some unique element that makes your novel stand out.

  6. The dog has the potential to pull at our heartstrings, and the elements are there for a good story: new boy in neighborhood, change, etc. But more tension in the beginning is needed, and as other's have said, the father seems to give in too easily.The title's intriguing, though. Wondering how fried liver ties into the story :-)

  7. I really enjoyed reading this. I agree with the others about the effective voice. The prose are clean, too. Your concise descriptions work very well. I concur that the father seems to agree to take the dog on too quickly. But maybe there is a reason for that?

    My first thought after reading this was that the dog had been abandoned by the previous owners and has returned to his old home.

    Nice work!

  8. I love a good dog story! I agree with the other commenters that the dad agrees too quickly and there is not a good introduction of the main conflict yet (or at least a hint of it).

    I think it would be funny if the MC got excited about having the dog, talking about where he would sleep, what his name should be etc while the dad answers with various versions of "no". I think that would be very much in character for a MG reader :)

  9. This entry is decently written and seems sweet enough, if fairly quiet.