Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #35

TITLE: The Re-Education of Christopher Parker the Third
GENRE: Middle Grade -Realistic

“Par-ker! Par-ker! Par-ker!”

Standing at the podium, squinting into the hot glare of the stage lights, I felt my heart pound. I reached for my school tie, which hung a little crooked as usual. As I straightened it, I caught sight of the Fletcher Academy crest on my blazer pocket. That cleared my head. My shoulders squared, and I felt calm and confident.

“Thanks, guys.” My face erupted with a grin that must have been at least two school pictures wide. So much for the cool guy look I had practiced in the mirror after breakfast.

I scanned the auditorium, waiting for the whoops and cheers to die down, especially from my friends in the 7th grade section.

“Thanks.” I cleared my throat and nodded across the stage in the direction of the headmaster and the rest of the Council of 24, aka, The Double Dozen, seated beyond him. “Thank you, Mr. Reynolds. Thank you, Council members.” My friends started whooping again, but this time Mr. Reynolds raised his hand to quiet them. “I’d like to thank my fellow students, especially my campaign manager, Edward Jennings. The men in my family have studied and served at Fletcher Academy for three generations, so I feel as if our school motto, Tradition, Honor, and Fraternity, is part of my DNA. It’s one of many reasons that I’m excited and proud represent you.”

The applause started again.

I couldn’t resist stretching the moment by scanning the audience one more time.


  1. This excerpt has a smooth, flowing feel to the writing, placing me immediately in the main character's head. It feels perfect for the target audience. I just don't know what the story will be about because the opening is missing conflict, but that element could be coming later. You've piqued my interest - I would keep reading to find out.

  2. I agree with JD. There's no conflict of any kind or even tension after the initial moment of feeling his heart pound. Not being able to pull off the practiced cool guy look is nice character development. I feel his vocab in the dialogue is a little too advanced for MG, though it's hard to tell with just this little bit.

  3. You present a very relatable character. I love the fact that he can't help grinning like a dork.

    I agree that his speech to the crowd sounds very adult. Especially the part about "the men in my family."

    Not sure what the conflict will be, but is it possible to foreshadow it a bit here? Is he scared he won't live up to his family's expectations?

    I assume he's been voted class president? It wasn't 100% clear if this was an acceptance speech or candidate speech.

    Little things - I wanted a verb to express his pounding heart instead of "felt." Maybe a little too much about the crooked tie; make it one sentence that he yet again fixes his crooked tie. I wanted him to gain confidence from someone in the audience instead of looking at the crest.

    His speech toward the end should be broken up into more than one paragraph. It's a little long.

    I connected with your writing and this shows a lot of promise. Just needs a little tweaking.

  4. Oh, dear--pride goeth before a fall, and your title hints there's a big fall coming! In fact, I hope it's soon.

    You've done a nice job with the setting. I'm interested in finding out how he's representing the students.

    Good luck with the story!

  5. My only comment about the writing is that you should cut "I felt" in the first line. Just tell us it's pounding because otherwise it pulls us from the character (they're called "filter" words for that reason. They distance us from feeling it along side the character when you tell us they're feeling it or hearing it etc.)

    Otherwise, I agree with the other comments. No conflict here, and the speech is very mature/adult. This is just too happy for me. Like this should be the end when everything comes together and we celebrate Gryffindor winning the house cup.. oh wait, wrong book. lol You get my point, right? :)

    I'd like to see at least a little bit of conflict and a hint of the plot.

  6. Yes, definitely get rid of "I felt" (as well as any other occurences of "I know" or "I think" unless they are in dialogue).

    The pounding heart is a little cliche for an opening. Yes, you can still use it but I'd try for something stronger and more MG here.

    I was confused by his reaction to seeing the crest. Has he never seen it before? If not, I think you need to tell us why he now has it and why it calms him.

    I agree that this could be a tad bit stronger if we saw some conflict here. The first chapter is usually the place where you show us what is wrong with your character's life but this sounds like everything is perfect. Is he a little bit nervous? Worried he won't impress his father? Worried he'll screw up?

    Good luck!

  7. Quality writing, good voice, but maybe a bit too mature for a 7th grader?

    I didn't see a conflict introduced, only hinted at by the last sentence, which I presume is the setup to the situation changing immediately.

    Caught an apparent typo in third sentence from the end. Inexcusable to an agent, I'd bet.

    I think the big thing that nagged at me was the fact we didn't know what the MC was being cheered and why he was giving the speech. A victory speech?

  8. We like that we start immediately with the scene in progress. We can picture Parker and how he feels standing in front of the crowd. We think the “thanks” list of people could be trimmed a bit, even though you do thank people in speeches, just to be careful that it doesn’t slow it down too much. We like that we have a good sense of who the character is.

  9. This is written well, but I just didn't get a MG vibe from it. To me, it felt more like an adult business meeting. I also thought there was no tension here, since everything seems to be going well. Of course, that usually happens before everything starts going wrong, so maybe that's coming up soon.

    The 'Thank you' parg goes on too long, I thought, although it may just seem that way because of the large block parg.

    Perhaps find a way to get a MG vibe in there somehow, and maybe a hint of some trouble to come.

  10. I liked the "wide grin description" very unique and pertinent way to show it. Some of the beginning seemed like telling. And as the others say, needs some conflict fore-shadowing.

  11. Hmm, nothing else to add except that you are missing "to" in th dialogue where he is saying he's proud to represent them.

    It makes me feel like this is a first draft and hasn't been revised. Ensure you have no errors whatsoever before you submit to an agent. These sort of things get you an instant rejection.

    Good Luck.