Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #4

GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

Dying doesn’t really bother me anymore. Sure, it frightened me the first few times, but now, I’m totally used to it. Actually, I’m not really a fan of birth. It's infinitely scarier than death, nine months squished inside of a dark space, and then welcomed into the world with a slap on the butt. A few centuries ago, after this one horrific birth, I got revenge. The barbaric doctor smacked me really hard, but luckily, I entered that life in a boy’s body because what I did works much better with male plumbing. Yep, I peed down the front ofhis shirt. He yelled a bad word and I let out an eardrum-bursting scream.

But, let’s get back to our real subject—death, something humans dread. Here’s the secret, the whole heart-stop-beating part is easy, but the post-mortem debriefing with the Big Guy makes my body shake like a tail of a rattlesnake. He melts the toughest souls into wimpy little bunnies, and I should know, because I’ve been debriefed more than any other soul in the universe.

So, now I sit on this stool, waiting for the torture to begin again. The only distraction, in this boring white room, is the ticking Earth-Year clock on the wall.

“Annalise,” booms the Big Guy’s Assistant, Michael. “The debriefing can’t start, Richard isn’t dead yet, so just sit on the stool, and stop fidgeting.”

My body quivers as I whip my head around, looking for him—not in the room.


  1. Even though this is labeled as MG, it has more the feel of YA. It's a tougher, snarkier voice than we'd generally encounter in middle grade.

    As for the voice, it feels like it's trying too hard to be edgy and funny that it doesn't come across as authentic. The opening has a been-there-done-that feel as well. A great example of describing the birth/death process over several lifetimes is found in The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King. (I can't remember if it's the opening chapter or the second, but it's right at the beginning.)

  2. Thank you for the advice. Stung for a moment, but now I understand what you meant. Though the story opens with a reincarnation situation, it is not a major part of the plot.

    Back to the keyboard for rewriting and snark elimination. Thank you, again!

  3. I really like your concept--your MC is a "Soul" that is re-birthed. I'm wondering if every human in this world is a soul that's re-birthed or just your MC for some reason or another.

    I like the snark. Reminds me of Bartimaeus from Jonathan Stroud's novels, but what makes Bartimaeus so lovable is that he's super snarky, yet full of hidden love. I think your character could go there.

    What would make your "voice" more middle grade would be to tone down the adult humor. "The barbaric doctor...male plumbing" --this doesn't sound MG to me.

    Also, setting up dialogue helps with the flow of the piece. Who is Annalise? Who is Richard? Who is "him not in the room"?

    Anyway--I like!

  4. I agree with breaking up the beginning with some dialogue and perhaps cutting down on some of the birth paragraph, but overall, I really liked this. It pulled me in with the birth/death/reborn subject. I'm also curious what a debriefing with the Big Guy is gonna look like.

  5. I like the concept a lot, but I think you can tighten this page a bit. I'd maybe give the first line its own para for more impact, and I think I'd just take out the lines from 'A few centuries ago' to 'scream.' as they just slow down an otherwise-punchy beginning for me. Also the final few words are slightly confusing, I presume you mean Michael isn't in the room but she can just hear his voice, maybe just say '- but he's not in the room'.

    I also think this reads more YA or even adult than MG. I like snark, so I wouldn't take it out, just maybe the novel should be categorised differently? Anyway, I'd read on to see where you were going with this. Good luck!

  6. Without knowing where this goes (and I'd really like to know and would love to crit partner) I think you might be better going YA. Even if in the current/next incarnation, the mc is MG aged, I don't see how she could have an MG personality. She would have seen too much in that many lives, especially if I make the assumption she didn't always die as a pre-teen.
    I think some level of snark fits the situation.