Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Ride 'Em Gang
GENRE: YA Contemporary Fiction

Gregg flipped the visor down on his helmet and pulled the motorcycle up on the back wheel. He popped the clutch and hit full throttle down the hallway of his high school. Flying past the lockers at high speed, he waved his fellow students out of the way. That really wasn’t a problem. Seriously. Who expected a moto-cross before first period class, in the foyer? Right?

But what wasn’t expected was the back door lookout guy not to have the back door open as planned. It only took a few seconds to reach the other end of the hall and there was no way Gregg was crashing through that the steel door. With no other choice he swerved left through the cafeteria. The last few breakfast goers tossed their trays into the air as he jumped the first table in his way. A freshman girl tripped nearly falling into his path. Quick thinking saved the girl from a broke leg.

A teacher Gregg didn’t recognize jumped from faculty table shouting obscenities. Well, that’s what Gregg imagined he was yelling. How hilarious! He threw his head back and shouted to the teacher, “Ride ‘em!”

The doors to the shop room just happened to be open and Gregg took it as a sign he could get away scott-free. What he didn’t know was Principle Hatcher was addressing the staff in a late meeting. None to soon the back doors opened and Gregg shot the guy a thumbs-up.


  1. Talk about opening with a bang. Nice. You had me up till the last paragraph. I got a little confused. First he's cutting through shop to get away, but is the principal holding a meeting there (guessing no, but it kid of reads that way), then the back doors are opened (are these the ones that were closed earlier?) And who is he giving the thumbs up to?

    Of course, this could all be answered in the next sentence :) You've got great action here and I can totally picture it based on your writing. I'd keep reading just to see if he gets away or not. Nice job.

    Good luck!

  2. I like how you start with action here, but I wanted a better sense of why he decides to ride his motor cycle through the school. To be cool? Get attention? Piss off the faculty/admins?

    Also, a couple of the words you use here didn't ring true (for me) for a teen voice. "Shouting obscenities" could be "cursing him out." "Breakfast goers" also felt a bit formal.

    Plus there was some telling here that slowed down the action a bit.

    The line "he waved his fellow students out of the way. That really wasn’t a problem" confused me. I would think if they weren't expecting it, they'd be even harder to scare out of the way, they'd simply freeze up.

    The last paragraph confused me. I don't have a strong enough sense of the school's layout to understand how the shop room could lead to freedom. Or why the principal is there etc.

    This could be really interesting, and I think after another revision pass, you'll be there. Best of luck!

  3. High school wish fulfillment! Nice. What kid wouldn't love to do what Gregg did?

    I think you could give us a bit more description of what's happening. You could mention the noise of the motorcycle in such close quarters. What is the floor like? Shiny tile? What maneuver did he use to miss the freshman girl? If we're going to ride with Gregg, we need to feel it.

    I was confused by the last paragraph too. Isn't it morning? Why is it a late meeting? Is the staff meeting in the cafeteria or in the shop?

    Gregg's character is pretty unconcerned about what he's doing. I'd be interested to know why he's doing something so wild and how he'll handle the trouble it causes him.

    Nice start. Good luck.

  4. I love this! Why are there not more comments?

    My notes:

    Is there a way to combine the first two sentences so that we know in the first sentence that he's in the high school? Because that would be an awesome first line!

    Other than a few typos, the only other thing that bugged me was "How hilarious!" It took me out of the story.

    I don't understand how getting away via the open shop doors connects with Principal Hatcher addressing the staff. Please clarify.

    But the rest is really great! Best of luck!

  5. This is a great start, but it lacks emotion. What was he thinking when he realized the door wasn't open like planned? Holy sh**? Yay? Oh goodie gumdrops? This would have been a great place to add voice. How was his body reacting? You make it sound like he's going for a casual stroll instead of an adrenalin-loaded ride. Make us feel what Gregg feels. Give us a taste of his emotions so we can connect with him.

    I would, though, read on to the end of the chapter to see where this is headed.

  6. You have some fun action, and who doesn't love a devilish rebel?

    Who's the narrator, and how does he know what Gregg's thinking?

    BTW, it's scot-free with only one t.

  7. I like the action--starts with a bang for sure. You could make this funnier, even rev it up a bit, by showing more. You have the students in the cafeteria throwing up their trays. You could tell us what is on those trays and how it splatters all over. Same with the teacher cursing him out. Have him imagine the possible words flying out of that mouth and show us the facial expression behind those words. He's going for a big impact--impact the reader by adding some of those details.

    Quick grammar tips--
    principle should be principal
    None to soon--too

    Nice start.

  8. I really like the action in this piece but I was taken out of the action by all the grammar issues. I know some say that is nit-picky but you will find some agents stop reading when they run across these errors. It shows a lack of attention to detail. Make sure your manuscript (especially the beginning) is free of any errors. You don't want an agent or reader rejecting your interesting ms based on a few errors!

    I agree with the other comments about showing Gregg's emotions more. Also, it seems like the ride is too short. It fits all within 250 words? I wanted more! Fill in with more descriptions (not filler description but the type mentioned by previous commenters).

    You've got a good start here. I would be interested to read on if the errors were corrected.

  9. Certainly fulfills the open with action preference that seems to be prevalent. I would also like a hint at Gregg's emotions and what brings him here - is it a dare? he lost a bet? he is just a carefree spirit? a troublemaker? etc....
    I think you could end the first para after "he waved his fellow students out of the way." What follows is superflous and unnecessary.

    Now to the errors which I am sure any agent would notice and frown upon. (But easily cleaned up):

    "there was no way Gregg was crashing through that the steel door" (lose 'that' or 'the')

    "With no other choice he swerved left through the cafeteria." (I think a comma after 'choice')

    "Breakfast goers" (probabably could use a hyphen but better yet think of an entirely different word)

    "Quick thinking saved the girl from a broke leg" (broken leg or breaking her leg)

    "A teacher Gregg didn't recognize jumped from faculty table.." (jumped from the faculty table or jumped up from the faculty table)

    "scott-free" (scot-free)

    "Principle Hatcher" (Principal - because as I was taught in school the way to remember this is the principal is your Pal :))

    "None to soon" (none too soon)

    You have an exciting opening. Clean it up and go forth and sin no more :)

  10. Certainly an unusual opening scene.

    I'd cut "Right?" at the end of the first paragraph--it just hangs there.

    In the second paragraph, I took issue with "as he jumped the first table in his way." How exactly would this be possible? I don't like details that beg credulity, not in non-genre fiction--they take me out of the moment. And the last sentence of this paragraph: broke should be broken.

    Last paragraph: I felt this was a confusing sequence of events. Was the principal giving a talk to the staff in the shop room? Did Gregg give the thumbs-up to the principal, or to someone who'd opened the door?