Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #8

TITLE: Travel by Painting
GENRE: MG Fantasy

If Erin wanted anything interesting to happen, it had to happen early, before her cousin woke up. Oisín was a carpenter. Full of sharp, dangerous objects and splinters, the garage was his territory and off limits. Erin opened the garage door. She leaned back to check the living room. Her cousin was still asleep on the couch, buried chin deep in his tattered copy of Treasure Island.

Erin would be a better person tomorrow. She would complete school assignments and follow rules. She was already in trouble, already grounded. One bad decision deserved another. Today, this morning, was still free.

Harry, their cat, smashed his head against her legs. Was he egging her on or warning her to turn back?

“You’ve got a vet appointment later. Don’t you have a sofa to hide under?”

Harry sat perfectly still, save for the twitching tip of his tail.

Erin stepped over the threshold. As long as Oisín was asleep and she left everything how she found it, there was no harm in looking. The paintings were stacked neatly on the left wall. She moved carefully, quietly around piles of tools, wood beams, and cardboard boxes.

The paintings were crazy weird. Oisín had been hired to make frames, and Erin wanted a better look before he finished the job. The first was a portrait of a woman. The painted eyes seemed to follow Erin as she moved, even when she took a step back towards the house. Harry was a living statue in the doorway.


  1. I have a cousin named Oisin. How funny!
    I like the comment to the cat about the sofa. Very realistic. It's so hard when you only have 250 words to figure out where to start a story like this. I do like the premise a lot, and I can see Erin is about to get herself into a bit of trouble...

  2. Erin's personality seems interesting. However, there were some problems with reading this.
    The first sentence is a bit confusing. It makes it sound as if Erin's want itself must come early, not the interesting event. You might want to reword it as "If anything interesting was to happen, it must happen early" or "Erin wanted something interesting to happen, but it had to happen soon."
    Another minor one is "paintings were stacked on the wall". I think you mean "against the wall".

    I would say try to watch your wording. Still, there are hard to judge on 250 words

  3. Erin's personality is interesting and I like how the cat acted at the end.

    That stated, there were some writing problems. In the first sentence, the wording makes it sound like Erin's want is based on being early, rather than the "anything interesting" had to happen early. Another way to word this might be similar to "If anything interesting was to happen, it had to happen early" or "Erin wanted something interesting to happen, but it had to happen soon."

    Another minor problem was "paintings stacked neatly on the left wall" I think it should be "Against the left wall."

    Still, it's hard to tell more with just the first page.

  4. I like the dynamic you've set up between the MC and her cousin, but I'm a bit confused on the specifics. Maybe that's coming. I also was a bit disoriented reading the second paragraph and wanted a stronger connection between being a better person and looking at Olsin's work--which to me doesn't seem like it should be such a big deal. So maybe playing that up a bit more would be good too. Best of luck with this!

  5. I like the great details, such as being "buried chin deep in his tattered copy of Treasure Island."

    Does Erin whisper her words to the cat? I'm assuming she doesn't want to wake her cousin.

    Overall, I'd keep reading. I want to know what she's looking for among the paintings.

  6. i liked the way Erin's personality came through - generally a good girl but not averse to a little hijinx. I was confused by Oisin because when she referred to him as her cousin I assumed a contemporary but now he seems like an adult? Still not clear on that. I enjoyed the fact that you were able to give the cat a presence and not just use Harry for window-dressing. That was very good. At the same time, I was a bit confused by the attraction of the frames and the paintings to Erin. They did not seem to be worth the effort unless there is something special about them that we don't know yet. But, overall, a nice start.

  7. I don't see the connection between something interesting happening and looking at some pictures. I like the concept of the first sentence. It has some real potential, but it needs a bit of reworking.

    I love how she asks the cat if he has a sofa to hide under. lol

    One other thing. If the paintings were stacked on the wall, I picture them as facing up. They should be leaning against the wall so the eyes can follow her.

  8. Love the part about the cat!

    I think your second paragraph would make a stronger opening. Also, let us discover some details instead of telling us. If you have Erin sneak into her cousin's shop and describe some things that are there, we can get the fact that he's a carpenter without being told.

    I was thrown by the crazy weird phrase. Seemed like it was in a different voice.

    Overall, this was interesting. If I were flipping through this, I would read on, especially if I saw the cat mentioned again :)

  9. There's enough strangeness here--the cousin named Oisin (not a name I'm familiar with), the fact that they seem to live together, that he's presumably decently older than her, the odd paintings, and her apparently recalcitrant ways--to make me interested in reading more. Erin's clearly full of spunk. I'd probably add a couple words to clarify the first sentence: put "to make" between "wanted" and "anything."