Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Secret Agent #25

GENRE: MG Light Fantasy

I’m a total screw-up. That’s what most people think, anyway. Especially my math teacher, Mr. Widelot. And the kids formerly known as my friends. My dad, too. I think they’re right, but I wish they weren’t.

I’m sitting on Grandma’s sofa next to the warm blue sheets she’s just pulled out of the dryer. She’s folding while I cut out comics from the Sunday paper. Dad and Pops are watching football. I dig a little tunnel into the toasty pile of sheets, thinking about how maybe someday I could draw comics too, because I love to draw. Then I wonder what it would feel like to cut sheets instead of newspaper. And then Dad screams at me.

“West! What’d you do that for?” He practically leaps out of the brown lounger chair.

I look down at my hands. Uh-oh.

“I didn’t mean to!” And I really hadn’t meant to. But I’d taken the scissors, and cut a hole in the blue-flowered sheets.

“Westin Scott Hopper!” Grandma closes her eyes and shakes her head. “I just bought these sheets on sale. Why would you cut a hole in perfectly good sheets?”

I had no idea why. I just did. I do stuff like that all the time.

“Stupid. Stupid.” I hit myself on the head.

Dad takes a swig from a silver can and sets it on the glass coffee table in front of me. “You can’t do stuff like that, West. Use your brain.”


  1. The voice is perfect and the family dynamic is great. I want to know more about why he does "stuff like that all the time." Great job!

  2. Love the voice!
    The only comment(small) I have is that the sentence "But I'd taken the scissors and cut a hole in the blue-flowered sheets" isn't really needed. And if a reader is in doubt ( I don't think they will be, but...) grandma says it in the next line :)
    Good luck!

  3. I liked your voice, and West was an intriguing character. I would read on.

  4. The voice is great. This is a pretty hopeless character with a slightly humorous tone to his voice. I like the family too, who really gives him no break in feeling like he's a born loser with a comic dream.

    Suggestions, the line where he is imagining drawing comics is nice, but the "because I love to draw" feels like an after thought and doesn't sound natural. So, maybe find a way to smoothly introduce his love for drawing.

    Still, I like this character and I would read more. I think fantasy is a good genre for this type of character.

  5. I would love to read on to see what's going on in this character's head. Very fascinating. The voice is great.

  6. I don't mind that this character thinks he messes up and then follows that with doing just that. But this instance doesn't seem at all like "screwing up." I mean, cutting paper and cutting material aren't anything similar. It just doesn't work, I don't think. I thought there wasn't going to be an explanation of him cutting out comics. Were they his favorites? Ones he wanted to show someone? It seemed odd in the first place, but to suggest that his switch over to cutting sheets was nothing but him screwing up . . . I'm not buying it.

    Do I like the character? I feel for him.

    But the bottom line is, I don't know if he wants to stop messing up or what he thinks he can do to overcome his not using his brain. In other words, I don't see what he wants. I don't see him struggling to get somewhere. Maybe that will come, but I don't see a short term goal either, so I don't really have a reason to be in his corner and cheer him on.

  7. I was on the fence here. Poor West is such a pathetic character here, I really don't want to read an entire novel about him. On the other hand, this is fantasy, and I'm thinking his tendency to screw up may have something to do with a hidden power he has that he hasn't yet learned to control, and that could prove interesting.

    Perhaps if he had a bit more of a backbone I'd be more inclined to stick with him, if he knew that yes, he did screw up a lot, but he didn't want to, and he tried not to, but things just seemed to always go wrong for him. As is, he seems resigned to the fact, and doesn't seem to have any desire to overcome it. If he doesn't care, why should I? Give him a bit more spirit and fight.

  8. Well...I'm torn on this one. I'd read on for a bit, but I'd want it to go somewhere pretty quick.

    Truth is I have a son who is exactly like Westin. One time he cut the expensive wool rug we had in the living room. Just sitting there with scissors doing something else and had to discover what it would feel like to cut the rug. He could never tell me later why he did this kind of thing. And this wasn't a fun thing to live with.

    So I'm bringing my baggage to the reading as we all do. And I'm thinking, "poor kid" and "I want to see this kid figure it out" but "I hope we get moving with some kind of story soon." Because right now he cuts the sheets and thinks he's stupid, but he doesn't say he's trying to overcome these urges he has.

    I like the title, though, and since this is a fantasy and I love fantasy, I'd read on for a while to see where you were going.