Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #17

TITLE: Elliot Fears And the Phobias

“I'm just getting into bed, mom.”

It was, I say without fear of contradiction, the biggest lie I had ever told my mother in my entire eleven years. I mean sure, I'd told her some rather substantial untruths in the past, you don't get to eleven without some fibbing here and there, but nothing of this scope or sheer falsitude.

I was as far from “getting into bed” as physically possible. I was in the back seat of an SUV barreling north on the New Jersey Turnpike, about to go to play in a battle of the bands competition in Manhattan.

My parents were out of town. They had trusted my well-being, their home and all belongings contained therein to the hands of my older brother Jason who was sixteen and happened to be driving said SUV. He also sings in and pretty much runs the band.

“Okay, honey,” my mom said. She and my dad were at my aunt Missy's wedding which Jason and I had lucked out of having to go to because we couldn't afford four plane tickets to Daytona, Florida, where they were having the ceremony.

I hate weddings. Jason tells me to get used to them because he intends to form a cover band to play other people's songs at weddings to make “ends meet.” I'm 11. My parents drive me to and from fifth grade and pay for our internet connection. My ends are met.


  1. Loved your title (band name?) and the premise. Some of the word choices don't quite fit an eleven-year-old's vocabulary (contradiction, substantial).

    I feel like the paragraph after “I'm just getting into bed, mom,” could be deleted or moved. That way, we are taken right into the action.

    Sounds like a fun read! Best of luck!

  2. This is a fun beginning. I like your character's slightly-snarky voice, as in "My ends are met."

    I do think you could trim back a little on the explanations of how much he's lying. Maybe chose your favorite of the lines about it, and then let the fact that he's in the back of an SUV show us the rest--jokes are less funny when they drag on too long (but I do think it's funny).

    The one other thing I think would make this stronger is telling us where they're going. It would add to the humor of "I'm going to bed," and heighten my curiosity to see what's going to happen when they get there. But you have my interest--good job.

  3. I like the voice of the MC a lot. I know that you're not usually supposed to start with dialogue, but I liked it. It seemed to work for the scene since it was short and sweet. Also, it set the groundwork for the MC's character since he was lying.

    Loved the line "you don't get to eleven without some fibbing here and there." I thought it had great voice and I immediately wanted to read more as long as this character was the one talking.

    My only concern would be the MC sounding older than eleven. But since he's so snarky, I could just chalk that up to him being precocious and wise for his age.

    I really enjoyed reading this. Good job.

  4. Great voice! I like the set up (while the parents are away, the boys will play), and I think you do a good job putting us in the MC's shoes.

    I think you can put quotes around "make ends meet". I had to read over that part twice. I'm also hesitant about starting the story with dialogue. Maybe one sentence or a paragraph you have after could start the story. Then start his conversation on the phone. I think you could start with "Our SUV barreled north on the New Jersey Turnpike as we made our way to the battle of the bands competition in Manhattan."

    Just a few minor thoughts. Up to you, of course. I like what you've done so far. Good luck!

  5. In this case, starting with dialogue is fine. It's short and we quickly see that the mc is the one saying it, not another character. I like it.

    The one thing I thought through the whole thing was that this sounded like a 16 year old. I realize younger boys know plenty of words and phrases like this -- they are pretty smart by that age --- but I just don't hear 11 year olds talking like this in casual conversation. Just my opinion.

  6. Elliot has plenty of attitude! I enjoy the humor, and I read eagerly to find out what the lie was. However, as soon as I know what he's actually doing, I want to find out more about about the present. The explanation of the past can wait. "My ends are met" is an excellent line that underscores the differences between eleven and sixteen--but this early in the story, it's more important to maintain the intrigue of the lie and the competition.

    I'd keep reading to find out how the night out goes. Good luck!

  7. Love the premise of this and the promise of the story.

    I also really liked the humour, but your character's voice sounded a bit older than eleven to me.

    You might not need to mention twice in a short piece like this that your character is eleven.

    I'm intrigued to know how this trip works out for your character.

  8. I liked your concept a lot and the intrigue of who he was and what exactly was going on kept me reading. I could feel you MC's personality clearly, which is a huge plus. I feel like the voice is a little older, maybe 13, instead of 11. You mentioned he was 11 twice. In different ways, which was okay, but I'd cut it out of the first paragraph and leave it in the last.

  9. I agree that the first sentence could probably be moved around. It definitely gets interesting once you realize he’s on his way to a battle of the bands event, but at first it was a little bit of a turn off. And although the vocab is higher level, I think you could keep that in, especially if the main character is supposed to be smart – there are quite a few eleven year olds who do talk like that. I would probably get rid of the second time he mentions that he’s 11 (the simple: I’m 11.) But I love the comment about his ends being met, hilarious!

    Also, random: I think for numbers under 100 you are supposed to write it out (i.e. eleven, not 11)

  10. I agree with the poster above who suggests that you delete, or move, the second paragraph. I think you can stay right in the action, and we’re closer to the character that way. That paragraph also read a little too self-aware/snarky for middle grade – at first I thought this was YA. I love the idea of a 6th grader in a family band, sneaking off to a competition!