Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #8

TITLE: The Mean Freckle

My grandpa once told me a broken mirror meant a broken soul, and if that saying is true, I am doomed with a capital D because I dropped my mother’s gold-handled mirror. It cracked, and I’m not talking about a prissy little break. I’m talking about a black, jagged jack o’lantern grin. The mirror is RUINED, and no amount of glue is going to fix it. I’m RUINED, and no amount of pleading, praying, or acting cute is going to fix the situation.

It happened in slow motion. I was perched on the side of my mama’s iron bed, and the mirror’s handle was wedged between my right big toe and the tall-boy toe next to it. I was leaning over, pulling my hair back and looking sideways at the back of my neck when my sweaty dirty toes s--l--o--w--l--y gave way.

My brain ordered, “Stop! Hold on!”

My toes replied, “It’s too late.”

The mirror slipped and flipped, crashing to the floor. I leaned over the side of the bed, staring downward at the mirror. Another girl with a fractured face glared back at me. I yelled, “It’s all your fault. Now what are you going to do?” The face in the mirror was lopsided and missing features where the crack danced. I plopped backwards onto my mama’s bed and moaned, “Goodness grapes! I’m in a hot mess now.”


  1. This is a great start with a distinct voice.

    Here are a few notes to polish it.

    Prissy doesn't seem like the correct description. I'd caution that it might distract the reader because it has other connotations.

    In the last paragraph, down is sufficient, downward is unnecessary.

    Unless it is a magic mirror and there is actually another face reflecting back toward your MC, it's enough to just say, "A girl with a...

    Best wishes!

  2. For me this starts in the wrong place. Consider starting with the second sentence in the last paragraph. "I leaned over ...". That gets us right to the narrator and how she thinks.

    Look at the rest of the beginning and decide what is really necessary for us to know right now. Put that second. Cut or delay the rest until we need to know it.

    Also look at a couple of your word choices. 'Prissy, Situation, perched'. These don't sound like kid words to me.

  3. I like the first paragraph, but when you back up and describe the details with the toes, I get so confused trying to figure out what she was actually doing, I got pulled out of the story. (That said, I do like the toes saying it's too late - that feels very MG)

    But I didn't care for the exclamation of "Goodness grapes." I worry that she's going to be too sweet or overly quirky. I'd prefer just: "I'm in a hot mess now!"

    Those two things aside, I would read on, absolutely, so you did hook me.

  4. This excerpt has a unique voice to it, making it stand out in the crowd of entries. Some of the lines don't feel "middle grade", unless you're setting the story in another time. The main character wavers between feeling like an old Southern belle with her "Goodness grapes" to a modern pre-teen with her "hot mess". I don't know what you're trying to achieve with these lines. Try not to use flashback sequences to describe the events - let them play out in real time. You've got a gem here. With a little polishing, it will shine.

  5. Love the voice. Love the first line. But I do think the set up needs a little work.

    It's weird to me that you describe the broken mirror then describe how it happened. Maybe pull the description of the crack til after you describe what happened. But then again, is the full story of her dropping the mirror that important? Can you tell us she dropped it, she's doomed with a capital D (cute!) and then tell us what happens now. That might be the better option.

  6. The first paragraph had a strong voice and really pulled me in. I, too, thought it was weird to describe the broken mirror and then go back and narrate how it happened. I don't even think you need to tell how it happened. Perhaps start the same with the broken mirror and then move forward from there without the how.

  7. I really like the first sentence, but I would stop at "...doomed with a capital D." I would cut the rest of that paragraph, and then pick it up with "It happened in slow motion." I agree with the previous posters who said it seems odd to tell that the mirror broke and then go back and narrate how it happened.

    I'm also not a fan of "Goodness grapes." It doesn't sound like something a modern day kid would say, unless she's very quirky.

    I think this has potential, but I'm not totally pulled in yet. I'd like to get a little more sense of where this story is headed in these first 250 words.

    Good luck!

  8. I would like this so much more if it started with the second paragraph. As it begins now, all the action is a flashback. If you cut the first paragraph, you put us in the present moment, which is more gripping. You can add some of the details from the first paragraph as her reaction after we see her break the mirror.

    I guess it's a matter of personal taste, but I liked "goodness grapes." It added to the voice for me.

    You only label it MG. Is it historical? Contemporary? Fantasy or paranormal? Knowing that would be a help to the reader.

    Overall, I enjoyed this (loved the toes talking back!) and with a tiny bit of tweaking, it would be great.

  9. I thought it was a cute opening, but you tell us what happened and then you show us what happened, and you don’t really need both. You might cut the telling first parg and keep the showing. But I would get in - It cracked, and I’m not talking about a prissy little break. I’m talking about a black, jagged jack o’lantern grin. (love the jack-o-lantern grin!) You could stick that after the sentence where she stares down at the mirror. And at the very end, you could add in - My grandpa once told me a broken mirror meant a broken soul, and if that saying is true, I am doomed with a capital D.

    I did wonder about the title. I’m hoping the story isn’t about a freckle that comes to life.

  10. You have used the word mirror seven times in this opening page. Got a little repetitive for this reader and I'd suggest trying to rearrange some of the sentences.

    Overall, I enjoyed the concept, although I could have done without the in-depth detail of sitting on the bed, where the mirror was, and what the holder of the said mirror was doing - seemed to drag and pull me out of the story, particularly when I already know the mirror is broken.

    "Goodness grapes! I'm in a hot mess now" didn't work for me.

  11. Not sure where this is going, but we really like the strong voice, it makes an impact so quickly. The “Doomed with a capital D” line is great.

  12. enjoyable read and unique voice