Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Pirate Island
GENRE: Middle Grade Mystery

I stood in the back of the summer writing class near the air conditioner and aired out my sweaty pits, arms dangling to the sides gorilla style. My best friend, Andy, strode into the room and his eyes widened in horror when he saw me, like he thought I was committing major social suicide. I was only doing it because I was hot from walking to the library, not because I wanted to be an outcast. Walking was not my most brilliant idea. New England in August is hotter than a Hot Pocket right out of the microwave.

I don’t know why Andy cared how I looked. No one was paying attention to me. Probably afraid a girl would see and somehow think he was a dork. Dumb of him to be worried. Bookworm me had the market cornered on dork, and super-jock Andy was always the coolest kid everywhere we went. Still, I clamped my armpits shut and sat at our usual table.

He stalked over, his tall frame looming over me and his biceps bulging as big as my thighs. He flicked his head, shaking out his messy doo of blond hair. According to Andy, long hair was what girls liked. With my buzz cut and scrawny limbs, I could barely pull off cool by association. I preferred not to have hair falling in my eyes all the time, apparently a hazard to my ability to hang out with girls. Not that I wanted to hang out with girls.


  1. This feels more YA than MG to me. You have some marvelous word play here that works for MG: the hot pocket comparison, the gorilla style arms.

    But I wonder if a MG boy would spend so much time thinking about the physical aspects of his best friend. I also questioned whether a guy this age would refer to his friend as a 'super-jock.'

    I would suggest shifting the focus of these paragraphs back to the MC, because he's the one we're going on the journey with.

  2. I agree with jilliebeans on this one. I had the same thought about a guy spending so much time talking about another guy's physique. Guys don't really tend to do that very much! I also agree that it sounds more YA than MG.

    And, although I liked this writing (you have lots of great descriptions, like "hot pocket out of the microwave"!), I felt a little bogged down in it. I feel like some of this could be slimmed down to make it more catchy. Especially since its the first scene, where you really want to grab your readers.

    Good luck!!

  3. I agree that this feels a little more YA, but that can be fixed I think. It's not overly mature, just focused on things a highschooler would care about more than a middle schooler (so I don't think you nessesarily need to change to category of the whole book)

    That being said I think this is very good. Good writing, entertaining, interesting. I kept reading with no problems. I do wonder where this is going as there doesn't seem to be much of a plot yet and doesn't really seem to match the title at the moment. Of course, it's only page one. If it leads to the story quickly after this I don't think there is anything to worry about.

  4. I felt this was an MG maybe on the upper end. Your descriptions were fun and typical of that age group. I think a better use of one of your opening paragraphs would be to introduce the plot, let the reader know where you are going with this. You can weave more description in later one.

    The writing is very good so I would keep reading to find out where you're going with it!

  5. Nothing happened. A boy stood in front of an air conditioner then sat down with his friend. They didn't even say hello to each other.

    You've spent the opening trying to give us an idea of who these characters are at the expense of your plot, so we have no idea what this is about or where it might go. There's no hook to pull the reader in.

    Perhaps consider starting the story with whatever the inciting incident is, or at some place close to that. Give us some action and dialogue between characters rather than a monologue from the MC. In short, let him do something.

  6. You're "telling" me an awful lot here.

    I have no idea of what the story is about, other than the main character is a dork and his mate is trying not to be a dork.

  7. We liked the first paragraph and it is a good voice. We thought the next two veered a bit into telling, and not letting these details come out more organically. But that can be easily fixed, and the voice is so strong it grabs the reader.