Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Secret Agent #41

TITLE: Mission to the Sky
GENRE: MG Fantasy


Eleven-year-old Morgaina England turned over in her lumpy bed in the older girls' dorm and cringed. Mrs. Whitecuffs better not have heard that.

Morgaina pulled the patched blanket over her skinny body and shivered. Oh, how she wished she'd never been shipped to number three, Industrial Way four years ago, as if she were a side of beef or a dining room table.

Ever since then, her residence had been the Pleasant Valley Orphanage or PVO as Morgaina called it. She sighed. To her great dismay, the orphanage turned out to be neither pleasant nor anywhere near a valley.

Full of enthusiasm and excitement, a woman's voice resounded in her ear. "Pay attention, I have a secret for you. Something you can't tell anyone."

Nobody ever told Morgaina secrets, so that, coupled with the fact she saw no one by her bedside whispering to her, made it easy for her to discount the message. Even so, the words left her with a lot of questions. The greatest of them was: The voice couldn't have come from nowhere—or could it? Besides, it sounded so familiar, as if it was—no, it couldn't be!

The invisible woman speaking to her must have paid no attention to what Morgaina thought because she kept talking and became even more insistent. "Come on, we don't have much time."

"Don't have much time for what?" Morgaina whispered, because she didn't want to wake up anyone. If she did, for sure, she'd be in real trouble.


  1. Intriguing start. You could tighten it up a bit. I wouldn't start with the squeaks, but put them in a second line. Something like: The squeak of the springs echoed through the quiet of the older girl's dorm. She hoped Mrs. Whitecuffs hadn't heard it. Then, unless the address is important, I'd combine the next two paragraphs with: Oh, how she wished, like she had for the past four years, that she'd never been shipped off to the Pleasant Valley Orphanage. It was neither pleasant nor anywhere near a valley.

    The "full of enthusiasm and excitement" clashes with the tone you've set. Maybe something like: A woman's voice whispered from the darkness, "Pay attention..." Morgaina's bed squeaked again as she pushed up to her elbows and looked around. "Who's there?" she asked. The voice seemed familiar, but she saw no one. Her heart beat faster (that's cliche', but something similar) at the thought of a secret. A secret just for her. The invisible woman spoke again. "Come on...time." "Don't have...what?" She looked around at the other girls to see if anyone stirred. She would get in so much trouble if she woke anyone.

    Just some ideas. I'm sure you can do better than my examples. You just want to be careful of over-explaining/telling especially on your first page.

    Hope this helps. It definitely made me curious to read on, so good job! And best of luck with it!

  2. I would combine the first two paragraphs to tighten it up a bit. There are also some punctuation issues that need to be cleared up.

    I enjoyed the tone you were setting and felt curious as to why she was there, but was pulled out of the mood with "full of enthusiasm..."

    It would certainly be an intriguing read to have an invisible woman.

  3. I feel empathy for the main character, but I am confused by the invisible woman. Is this a voice she hears often, or is this the first time she's heard the voice? It seems to be that she's heard the voice before. I would move "full of enthusiasm" after the invisible woman speaks, or cut it. I'm more interested in where the voice is coming from than in the way she speaks.

    I agree with the other comments, they are great suggestions! Good luck, I think with a little tightening it will be a great start.

  4. Very intriguing start! I do agree with the prior comments and suggest also tightening up the last 2 paragraphs. Not sure the "...must have paid no attention..." phrase is needed. You could simply go with "The voice became more insistent" (no "even" necessary).
    Also, the "...because she didn't want to wake anyone" could be combined with the next sentence instead - something like: "If she woke someone, she'd be in real trouble."

    Good luck! :)

  5. I like the tension you have created. It sounds like dark Middle Grade. I know something bad is going to happen an I almost feel like telling her "No! Don't do it!"
    But then, there would not be any story to tell.

  6. I like the name of the character and the setting. Great hooks.

    The voice is a little confusing. The voice resounds in her ear. Loud. And it comes from an invisible person. But instead of freaking out, she discounts the voice.

    So the character's actions don't seem to match the circumstances and that makes me feel dissatisfied.

    Great start. I think you should take this one through a critique group and polish it up.

  7. I have some sympathy for the character, so I'd be inclined to cheer for her in whatever situation she gets into.

    The opening sounds didn't hook me. I mean, too many things squeak, so it gave me no indication of this scene. It could have been a mouse, a chair, a step, a wagon wheel--the list is endless. It's also an example of something I noticed later--you're giving the reaction or the effect of an action before giving the action itself. If you started by saying she twisted onto her side, then showed the resultant sound, I'd have the chance to put the noise in context.

    There are some cliched parts, I think. The lumpy bed. The wording of the address of the orphanage like Harry Potter. The whispering woman. And the not pleasant Pleasant Valley.

    I think you have a character you can build on, though. My suggestion would be to look for ways to make her story stand out from other orphan stories.