Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Secret Agent #37

TITLE: Roger Mantis
GENRE: MG Fantasy

As young Roger McGillicutty awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

Aw, geeze! he thought.

There was no mistake about it. The drapes in Roger’s bedroom were closed, but the Saturday morning sun was shining brightly outside and the drapes glowed, illuminating the whole room.

Roger stared at his hands, which had been replaced by vicious yellow hook-like claws at the end of big, spiky green arms. Clumsily, he kicked off the covers using a lot more legs than he used to have, and looked down at himself.

It was worse than he thought. He was lying on his back, and below his shoulders his middle was now a hard, skinny green cylinder leading down to where four long, spindly jointed legs wiggled aimlessly at the ceiling. Past the legs was a long, greenish-yellow wormy-looking thing that was apparently his butt.

Roger’s freaked-out brain suddenly remembered that this was called an “abdomen” on an insect, and that his middle part was called a “thorax.” Stuff that was still stuck in his head from that insect chapter last month in his hated seventh-grade biology class. Well, at least “abdomen” was a better word than “butt.” As Roger looked at his...abdomen, it squirmed and bent as though that end of him was waking up separately.

“Eww! Gross!” he said. His own voice startled him. It was a little buzzy, like his art teacher Mrs. Clancy, who talked through her nose.


  1. Interesting opening-- nice nod to The Metamorphosis. I like how his voice is described and the tone of the narration suits this age group.

    I did wonder about his rather matter of fact reaction. That seems to imply that either this has happened before or he's not very easy to startle. Not sure if there's a way to work that in here, but it did seem like a bit of an odd reaction.

    I also caught myself wondering how he knew he was a giant insect before he kicks off the covers or looks at his hands. And I wondered about the comment that "abdomen" was a better word than "butt." I would think readers this age would like using the word "butt." (minor point)

    This is intriguing, though and I am curious what will happen next.

  2. Your Kafka-esque opening won a chuckle out of me! I'm definitely wondering if this is a humorous MG spin on The Metamorphosis. If so, this could have even more of a hook. I wish I could see the query to find out what's really going on here.

    From the 250, though, I'm not sure where this is headed. We've got that Roger has just discovered he's become a mantis, but what will come out of this transformation, y'know? Just a tiny hint within this first page could serve as an excellent hook.

    "Aw geeze" does seem consistent with "Ew, gross" but..."Ew gross" could be swapped out for something to serve as more of a hook. Consequences of his transformation, maybe, or potential panic.

    I'm mystified enough that I would keep reading, but I do wonder whether there could be a little more worry on Roger's part.

  3. I love the concept. Is this something that often happens to the characters in this world? If not, I'd think there would be a lot more panic and running to parents.

  4. You do tell us that Roger's freaked out, but you don't show us much of that fear. His ease of acceptance does seem to indicate that something similar has happened before. Kids aren't quite so run down as adults - if this is a fresh experience for Roger, he'd react big. What would you do if you were a kid and woke up to find a giant insect in your bed, and then discovered it was you? Try to run away from yourself? Scream - only it comes out as a chittering sound?

    That being said, there's some gold here. I especially liked "he kicked off the covers using a lot more legs than he used to have."

  5. I think this is intriquing (also appreciate the nod to The Metamorphosis). I'm wondering about his reaction though. As someone else mentioned, is this something that happens to him or in his world often? If not, I'd think he would have a much stronger, more fearful, reaction.
    I'd keep reading to learn more!

  6. This is well written--good descriptions. I'd read on for a bit. It's not compelling to me. I don't really like bugs. But I would read on, because I suspect you know where you're going with this.

    It's funny more than scary, though, at this point. And I didn't get the feeling that he was very freaked out, even though you say that he is.

  7. Your opening is well written, but I'm not captivated. It's odd, mostly. I don't know Roger so I'm not sad, scared, or worried for him. He doesn't seem like he's any of those either, so it feels like it's all going to be OK, whatever "it" is. I'm not particularly intrigued and I don't feel any tension to keep me reading. But it really is well written. The humor might draw in your target readership.