Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #18

GENRE:   Young Adult Humorous

The school office at my new school is not hard to find and when I arrive, I see a middle-aged woman behind the counter filling in the missing letters to a crossword puzzle. I let out a polite cough announcing my arrival to no avail, she is trying to find a ten-letter word meaning: to wish good health. “Gesundheit,” I say hoping to speed things along.

“Well bless your little pea picking heart,” the receptionist says as she fills in the letters to the word ‘Gesundheit’ in the squares of her crossword puzzle. “How may I help you?” She asks in a pleasant voice.

“I am new here, my name is Maurice Almighty.” Her smile quickly turns to a frown.

“We have been expecting you.” She says in a rude manner, which indicates to me that my permanent record has already beaten me here.

The woman looks at me, lifts off her horned rimmed glasses and stares at me with the naked eye to see what a real monster looks like. “Mr. Allen, He is here,” the receptionist says into the intercom. She does not say my name, just He with a capital H and that says it all.

After being sternly told to have a seat, I wiggle on the wooden bench, which is uncomfortably making my left butt cheek go numb. The receptionist does not take her eyes off me for a second and does not attempt to conceal her distrust of me.


  1. I love the title. Its a strong start that, I think, can be polished a bit.
    Some of the sentences are a little run-on. " no avail(.) She is..." "I am new here(.)My name is..."
    Can you provide more description of "rude manner" or "stern"? I think it works to sometimes use a descriptor to sum up the feeling, but sometimes it helps if we can see what the character sees that brings them to that conclusion (weak voice, intonation rises at the end of a sentence, eye expression...)
    Good luck!

  2. I agree with showing the pleasant and the rude. This could very well be me, but I feel like this is missing a first line--something needs to pull us in, a quippy line, a funny observation. The new kid at school is a start that we've seen before, so show us a unique spin.

  3. Hilarious title!

    That first line needs some work; delete the first "school," and... I don't know, make it funny? I don't know--as far as first lines go, it was sort of a let down after that title.

    There are some other funny lines in this, but overall, this arrival feels like feet shuffling. If the action is going to happen in the principal's office, start there.

  4. This could definitely be fun, but I was distracted by the fact that there are no contractions in the dialogue, especially from a teenager and (I'm assuming by the "pea-picking-heart") southern receptionist. I would also cut the first "school" in the first sentence, "the office" would make the sentence read more smoothly.

    Good luck!

  5. There are definitely some funny lines here, but I'm not sure you're starting your story in the right place. The opening doesn't grab me the way it should.

    If you do decide to start here, you need to ramp up the tension, even if that tension is for comedic effect. For example, maybe there should be a sense of foreboding in the office (on the part of the secretary!) when Maurice arrives. Have frightened teachers peering through the window at him, things like that.

    Also, you have a habit of telling vs. showing which undercuts the power of the story and keeps the audience from getting sucked in. Don't tell us the secretary spoke in a rude manner, show us! Don't say she distrusts Maurice, have her eyes trained on him at all times.

    Good luck!

    PS-Maurice Almighty...hehehe!

  6. This one doesn't grab me. What I'm getting is Troublemaker arrives at new school. It's an incident as opposed to a plot/story. If there is some plot here, perhaps start in a place where it is more noticeable, or drag it into this opening. WHat is the problem facing Maurice? Get at least a hint of it on your first page.

  7. I also love the title! As I commented on another entry having the opening scene in a school office is a very common ploy and you really have to work hard not to have a reader walk away. I think the combination of the title, the crossword 'Gesundheit' solution and the use of 'He' does overcome that obstacle. If this story is about God as a mere mortal then I would do some research to see what your competition is. I think this has been done a number of times. Best of luck!