Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Secret Agent #12

GENRE: MG Contemporary

I slammed the door and braced my back against it as I tried to catch my breath.

The door rattled as the “bully bandits” tried to open it from the other side.

“Natalya? Is that you?” Momma bellowed from upstairs. “What’s with all that raucous? What’s going on down there? Do you need me to come down there?”

“No-o-o-o!” I replied, lying. “Just some friends trying to get me to come outside.”

“Well, unless they have jobs and can buy me a door, they need to stop beating on mine.”

I guess they heard Momma because the thump-thump-thump and rattle-rattle-rattle stopped instantly. I slithered to the window, slid the curtain to the side, and scanned the yard. They’re gone!

Making my way to the kitchen, I heard a stumble in the distance, like the sound of a person falling.

Momma must have heard it too because she bolted down the stairs and examined my body like she was a physician. “What happened? Are you alright?”

I tapped my lips, inching away from the door. “Shhh!”

“Who you shushing, child?” Momma looked around the room. She headed for the door.

I took a deep breath, squinted, and prayed silently wishing Momma would make a U-turn and go back to where she came. But if you knew Momma, you would know not even God can tell her what to do.

“Momma! Momma, please!” I begged. “Don’t open the door.”

“Don’t tell me what to do,” she scolded. She turned the knob. The door flung open.


  1. I like this. I would continue to read on. I would like to know what happened after the Mother opens the door? Did she yell at the "bully bandits"? I would suggest perhaps shorter sentences since it is Middle Grade and can give a more dramatic effect. Otherwise, I am hooked. I like the comment about "Not even God can tell Momma what to do." My mother was the same way; so I get it.

  2. I like the setup of the MC and her immediate problem. Even though we don't know who or why yet, the reader wants to know what's outside the door.
    I'd suggest changing the third paragraph due to the double "down there". We already know Momma is upstairs.

  3. Oh, yes, I'm hooked!
    I like the voice and your writing. The only thing I'm wondering is she hears the stumble "in the distance." At first I thought this meant it was in the house, but now think it's outside. Maybe you should say "I heard a stumble outside" if that's what really happened.
    Good job and good luck!

  4. Great intro! I'm hooked! I agree with Linda C, though, that I thought the stumble she heard was inside the house somewhere.

    Just a small thing toward the end - you don't really need the dialogue tags of "I begged" and "she scolded." The dialogue itself tells us this :)

    Good luck!

  5. Yep, I am hooked. I love the character's voice and I love the personality of the mother. The relationship between the mom and her daughter is believable and so nostalgic of my family. Also, the pacing of the story is on point.
    A poster mentioned it already but I also think it would be good to eliminate the double "down there"'s when the mother is talking. Also the tags like when the character say "I replied, lying." You could just say "I lied". Still, I would be interested in reading more.

  6. I am hooked! I don't know why the MC is being chased but I already care and am on MC side. Also, it just a few lines I already few like I know mama.

  7. Yep, hooked, too!!

    I love the sounds "the thump-thump-thump and rattle-rattle-rattle"... although you might consider deleting one "thump" and one "rattle" to quicken the pace?

    Also, really nit-picky, but I suggest that you say "stopped" and delete "instantly."

    I want to read more!

  8. Good setup. I want to know what's behind that door! Would definitely read on.

  9. A nice set up. We have a character with a problem on the first page, and we know something about her character and her mom's character strictly through dialogue and action.

    The quotes around the bully bandits made me question whether they were real bullies or just playing a game. Perhaps remove the quotes so we know right away they are real bullies.

    Also, raucous is an adjective. Do you mean ruckus?

  10. Oh I so want to know what happened after she opened the door. NOw I am frustrated. Which is a good thing. I think the beginning is strong, draws me in right away.

  11. Nice! I like the mom's voice...she sounds like a Southerner. :)

    Very relevant topic! Well done!

  12. Very intriguing! I was tensed up waiting for something to happen to Momma. I want to know what's coming next. :)

  13. I really like this! I especially love this line: "But if you knew Momma, you would know not even God can tell her what to do." Awesome way of telling me a ton about her character with just one sentence. :) Nicely done!

  14. I love the title and I love Momma's voice. But I am not immediately hooked. Some of this is just a matter of personal taste. I wasn't drawn in by the voice of the narrator. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing that dragged me in, either. I didn't really feel for her--Was she very scared or was she angry? I didn't really have a feel for who she was. Right at the last I got the feeling she was scared, because she's begging Momma not to answer the door, but up to that point, she seems to show no emotion at all.

    The "bully bandits" threw me off. If it's a contemporary book, I'd like to know what the words mean. Is this a gang? Bully Bandits doesn't sound like a realistic name for a gang. So that kind of stopped my reading while I tried to figure out who these people were. And why are they rattling the door but not calling in threats? I wondered if we me not hear them saying, "Natalya, you're going to have to come out sometime and when you do we're to going to..."

    I guess what I'm saying is if you let them speak I won't worry so much about who they are--I'll hear them and I'll get to know them by what they say.

    Then "raucous" pulled me out of the story again.

    But I like Momma. I like that not even God can tell her what to do.

    You seem to have a good story here. I think you just need to amp up your character's voice. To pull off first person you character has to have a really strong voice, I think.