Wednesday, February 12, 2014

First Two (MG Fiction) #13

GENRE: MG Contemporary

Baxter was pretty sure he was the first kid to be grounded in a truck—especially a moving one. Yet here he was, imprisoned in an old U-Haul hurtling down the freeway. He was restrained not only by the seatbelt tight across his waist, but by his dad's cousins—Lizard’s burly arm pressing into his right side and Mange’s hairy arm tickling his left. Baxter hunched his shoulders forward for two reasons; one, to try to put even a millimeter of distance from the two big men, and two, in order to play the small GameBoy Advanced he held in his hands. An urge came over him to pause the game and check for a text on his new phone, but then he remembered he didn’t have his new phone. Unbelievable. His only connection to his recently graduated sixth-grade friends was tucked away somewhere in his parents’ room very well hidden.

The Gameboy was old, but at least a form of entertainment. He had discovered it at the bottom of his closet before hurrying from his house back in Seattle. Baxter shifted back and forth into each man on either side as he waged battle with his thumbs. He beat the level causing a series of beeps to go off.

“Turn that thing off,” Lizard said from the driver’s seat. "Look at the mountains.”

Baxter glanced up to see sunlight flash off Lizard’s numerous earrings. He took in the man’s carefully combed and gelled purple mohawk. The look was a little much for an old guy.

“Okay,“ Baxter said. He found that being agreeable worked well with adults. “Just gonna finish this game.” Like he was going to turn off the only entertainment he had one hour into this seven-billion-hour drive.

“Wow,” Lizard said. Whether he was disappointed in Baxter continuing to play or going on about the wondrous mountain scenery again, Baxter wasn’t sure.

“Off,” Lizard said, drawing the word out with a more threatening tone.

The blinker made a loud Teek-tuk, Teek-tuk that echoed through the cab, and the big vehicle bounced as Lizard changed lanes. Every impression in the asphalt tossed the truck up and down as if they were a boat out at sea. Baxter recalled the words printed on the side of the truck in their driveway. The U-Haul decal still visible underneath the words, “Keys to Happiness—Own a Piano.”

Baxter, still looking down, heard a window open and felt wind on his short, thick hair. WIth his left hand he did a quick check that the cowlick at the crest of his forehead was down. Wind tended to wreak havoc with his hair. As he did so a giant hand yanked the Gameboy from his other hand. He looked up just in time to watch Lizard’s arm flinging the game in front of him past Mange’s head out the passenger window to the shoulder of Interstate-90.


  1. Whoa! Heavy! I like it, but it seems really menacing, maybe more YA than MG. I am really curious to know more about how this came about. The "grounded" sounds like his parents actually handed him over to these two guys. And I am also curious why Baxter isn't scared.

  2. I got a little confused when you said Baxter was in a U-Haul. Then you mention his new phone being in his parents room. I thought he was moving and the cousins were just helping with the move. Only later do I realize something else is up with the U-Haul when you mention the words over the old decal of the moving company.

    The description of Lizard is great and leads me to believe Baxter is with some not-so-nice characters and makes me wonder what's going on.

    That being said, I wonder if you're starting in the wrong area.

  3. (Writerperson: they're his Dad's cousins. No need to fear kidnapping :).

    This is a strong opening. I can feel Baxter's frustration. As soon as the window opened, I knew what was coming, but it still made me gasp when Lizard tossed the game. As a parent, I understand the impulse, but I can also imagine the horror and possibly fury that Baxter's feeling right now.

    The first paragraph does feel a bit heavy. I think splitting it two would give some breathing space. I'd also drop the sentence that begins "Baxter hunched his shoulders forward for two reasons". Just show us the hunching away from sweaty arms and the fight for space to play.

    Overall, good job.

  4. Well written, I enjoyed reading it. It seems more like a YA than a MG though, which if you made Baxter older, YA would definitely fit. I liked your descriptives, especially of Lizard, and I pity Baxter and wonder what got him into this mess. Would love to read more!

  5. Poor kid, having his Gameboy thrown out the window! Definitely feeling uncomfortable for him in this odd situation. The first two paragraphs were mostly telling with weak or passive verbs. Once they start talking, it feels much stronger and the detail is great!

  6. Great voice. I liked Baxter right off the bat.
    However, the first line confused me, re: "he was the first kid to be grounded in a truck"... I wasn't sure if you meant "grounded" like "fixed" or "grounded" like in trouble? Because he'd been grounded BEFORE leaving the house, not in the truck, yes?

    My other big question is: what does Baxter want?
    I suggest that you give the readers a hint about his need/want/desire in the first 500 words. He wants more than his phone, certainly.
    I'm a big fan of realistic MG!