Friday, November 28, 2014


TITLE: The Adventures of Ratboy
GENRE: MG Adventure

When a twelve-year-old aspiring comic book artist accidentally brings his own characters to life, he has to team up with the hero to defeat the evil villain, Dastard Lee.

I stood in the entrance of the cafeteria and twirled my Green Lantern ring around my finger. It was the first day of seventh grade, and I didn’t have anyone to eat lunch with. Not that I wasn’t fun. I was a lot of fun, even if I did say so myself. And it wasn’t that I didn’t have any friends. I had one friend, my next door neighbor, Peyton. We’d started hanging out together right after my family moved here last spring. But I couldn’t see her anywhere, even when I craned my neck around the doorframe. Maybe she didn’t want to eat with me.

Someone bumped my shoulder, and I stumbled past the doorway into the actual cafeteria. It was super noisy and echoey, and it smelled like spaghetti. A couple of kids from my street glanced at me and then away again. A girl from my morning math class waved and then pulled her hand down really fast. A guy from last summer’s art camp looked right at me and opened his mouth, but then the kid next to him said something, so he closed it again.

I swallowed my disappointment. Obviously everyone was still thinking about the incident from sixth grade. That’s okay. I could eat alone. I had my comic book, and someday when I was rich and famous they’d wish they had been nicer to me.

I scurried along the wall until I found a mostly empty table in the back. A skinny kid with dark frizzy hair was already there. He was so thin and his hair was so big he reminded me of a dandelion. As he tapped furiously on a tablet computer, I could hear beeping and twerping amid the occasional explosion.


  1. I absolutely love the concept of this! So much fun! Good job creating the uncomfortable aloneness in the cafeteria. Love the description of the "dandelion" boy! :)

  2. Awesome concept and it sounds like you can make this a series. I want to know what happened in the sixth grade.
    I'm sure you'll get many bids on this. Write on!

  3. I'd start with the cafeteria scene (but modify the first sentence). It's great and instantly makes you want to know what's going on. The first paragraph you have now is a bit low-key. Good conceit!

  4. I like this a lot. The voice is strong and the premise is great for middle grade. The second paragraph is especially strong. I feel for the MC as you describe the students in the cafeteria.(Raised her hand then quick brought it back down; opened his mouth then quick shut it again...)So good:) I would definitely turn the page! Nice job. Good luck in the auction!!

  5. Loved both the excerpt and the description. The idea of having to battle your own villains (literally and figuratively) is just so clever. And it immediately made me want to know what happened in sixth grade!

  6. I agree with what's been said, and especially with the suggestion of starting with the cafeteria, without the back story about Peyton and that she might not want to eat with him or his self- assessment. I bet you can weave those bits in rather than start off with them, especailly when you have such strong writing with so much excellent action.

  7. What's presented is done well. Great descriptions of how everyone is avoiding him.

    But, for me, this was too vague. The logline says he 'must' team up with the hero. Why must he? That, I think, is crucial, and you don't tell us.

    The excerpt is just as vague. I don't know who the MC is, and I only know he's male because I had the logline to refer back to. I don't know why he only has one friend, and eventually I learn it's because of something he did in sixth grade, but you don't say what it was. Telling us what he did, and or why he did it, would also tell us something about him. I don't know why his only friend wouldn't want to eat with him, or why he would think she didn't want to eat with him, as opposed to thinking maybe she just hadn't arrived yet. If there was no log line, I would have no idea what this was about. My guess is that perhaps you are starting this too early, or you are spending too much time on how people are avoiding him.

  8. Aww this reminds me so much of middle school. You did such a great job bringing those feelings of isolation out. And I really love the premise. Good luck in Baker's Dozen!

  9. The idea of a comic book hero come to life is pretty cool to me. And I imagine the villain Dastard Lee also came to life, else not sure why the MC would need to team up with him. Maybe however give us some idea of what's at stake.

    I'm not sure what happened that everyone shut their mouth when he got bumped in the cafeteria. I would read on to find out. I do sense that this kid is a bit of a cocky person. When he mentions the incident from sixth's grade, I think he should tell us what it is. I like how quickly you got this moving, however.

    Good luck

  10. In the pitch: you had me at H.P. Lovecraft. I'm intrigued.

    I'm not crazy about the narrator's awareness of a reader when you say an equinocus and then explain it as a snow pony. Either use the term and let the reader figure out what it is, or else say snow pony. On the other hand the MC doesn't explain who the Fat Man is, which makes me really wonder at who the audience for this piece is.

    The opening lines are gorgeous, but the rest leaves me wondering who is the Fat Man and why does it matter that he knows her name. She can taste her blood and has "tasted" the equinocus" which suggests she's eaten him, so she's not in a game, or is she? And if she's not in a game but in a real landscape, how can she not be aware of whoever else is there with her?

    The language is so strong that I would go ahead and read, but you are raising questions before you've even introduced us to your MC, and that's a risk, I think.

    Good Luck.

  11. Great title and the logline makes this sound like it'll be a lot of fun.

    But this first page doesn't hook me, sorry. I think you've started too early. It's all set-up, and opening in a school cafeteria, unless something amazing is happening there, is overdone. You take the whole of the first page to show us that he doesn't have any friends, but we don't learn much else. I want to know more about your MC. You mention Peyton, an art camp, his Green Lantern ring, and an incident in the sixth grade in passing - but so quickly we learn nothing about any of them. Perhaps choose one of these topics and tell us more?

    The writing could also be tightened. For a first page, every word counts, especially the opening lines, and in MG you want your writing to be as punchy as possible.

    Like I said, the premise sounds a lot of fun - is there somewhere more gripping you could begin your story?

  12. Sounds like this will be a lot of fun, I too love the description of the dandelion boy and I didn't want it to stop at 250 words!! Good luck

  13. Nice hook with the pitch. However, I think you can do some streamlining in the first two paragraphs. The most important points come out in the second paragraph where kids open their mouths and close them right back again.
    The most important line that makes the reader want to read more is "Obviously everyone was still thinking about the incident from sixth grade."
    I think you can do a bit of trimming in paragraph one and two which will allow us to see further into your story in this excerpt.
    Best of luck!

  14. I LOVE the concept of this.

    The biggest advice/feedback I would give on this opening page is to beware of the evil summarizing beast. Rather than tell me about the best friend and the fact he doesn't see her, consider having him LOOK for her. Little tweaks to ground us in this scene.

    That said, I really think you got the sense of isolation, and I love the image of the dandelion hair ;)


  15. Hi! This concept is so fun! I also love that the main character has a goal for the future and that it's a fun, unique one. I think readers will really connect to that.

    I agree that this intro is a little description heavy and too heavily inside the main character's head. I'd love to see more of a balance between the narrator's internal thoughts and the external action of the cafeteria.

    Cafeteria scenes do appear fairly frequently in children's fiction/pop culture, so I definitely think you want to make yours stand out by immersing us in your character's unique voice and way of looking at the world. What do the kids look like? What are they doing? What (or who), more specifically, makes him so nervous about being there? I know this is a horrible comparison, but I think of the cafeteria scene in Mean Girls and how it sucks you in with the hilarious descriptions of who sits where. You could use this scene as an opportunity to give us insight into who your main character is through how he views these other kids.

    This concept is great and I would definitely keep reading to see what chaos unfolds! Good luck!

  16. "That’s okay. I could eat alone. I had my comic book…" I felt that you could really build on this sentence. Whether this is a world of the character's creation on the page, or an established comic the reader might already know, I felt there was a moment you could have where the character could address the world/character(s) on the page as I'd imagine they've shared many a lunch together. Good luck!

  17. Hi
    I'm your tweet diva for the contest!
    Good Luck!

  18. Unknown is me. Oops!