Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May Secret Agent #45

TITLE: Ratman's Revenge
GENRE: middle grade urban fantasy

I jerked to a stop in the middle of the dog park and stared at the woods. The trees huddled in the distance like giant green aliens. Their branches swayed in the breeze, motioning me over. The leaves flickered in the sun as if a million green fingers were reaching out, begging me to come inside.

Whoa. That’s freaky weird.

Oh man, my friends would be stinking jealous if I went exploring in the woods without them. Sure, they were probably swimming in that freeze-your-toes-off lake at camp right now—lucky turds. The only water I’d get to swim in this summer was in the bathtub. But maybe this time, I’d have the best story to tell when they got back.

Sweat dripped down my face and I wiped it with my t-shirt. I shaded my eyes with my hands and stared at the creepy-cool woods.

Mom’s warning blared in my head. I mean it, Cody, she’d said a bazillion times. It’s too dangerous. Gangs and drug addicts hang out in those woods. You’re never to go in there. Understand? Never. Promise me, Cody.

Yeah, I’d promised, but that was ages ago. I’m almost a teenager now. That’s different.

Sandy, my golden retriever, ran up with a tennis ball clamped in her mouth. I grabbed the slimy ball and pitched it across the park. “Go get it!” She raced off with her tongue flapping.

I turned back toward the woods. A green and brown blur darted through the shadows at the tree line then disappeared.


23 comments:

  1. I spent hours everyday in the woods as a child, often all alone, so this speaks to me! Great description and setting up the anticipation of what lurks in the trees. You change tense a couple of times here from past to present. May want to figure out a way to rework it without that's and I'm.

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    1. I do struggle with tense. I'll get a real editor to check this over next time. Thank you so much for your comments!

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  2. I like what you did there: the first few sentences IMPLY something weird and alien-like, the last sentence almost CONFIRMS it. Though the second paragraph/sentence--"Whoa. That's freaky weird"--reads to me as if he just saw the woods/trees for the first time in his life. And since he hasn't, maybe rephrase it to reflect that he gets spooked by the weirdness of the trees every time he sees them?

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    1. awesome comment about the line Whoa. That's freaky weird. I have struggled with it and will gladly change it. thank you so much.

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  3. I liked the lure of the woods. I also like that Mom had one reason for forbidding it, while we get an idea that there is a totally different danger lurking there.

    I like that it is clearly written without too much artsy stuff that bogs down readers.

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    1. yes, there is a different danger. I'm so glad that came through. thank you very much for you comments!

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  4. Lovely description of the trees. Very creepy.

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  5. You do a nice job with the tension here -- especially with the protagonist's desire to enter the forest. And I like the eeriness of the last line.

    Be mindful of your sentence structure. The short sentences of the first paragraph make it feel choppy.

    You can also afford to cut these sentences:
    Their branches swayed in the breeze, motioning me over. (Essentially a repeat of the sentence that follows it.)
    Whoa. That’s freaky weird.

    Keep refining!

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    1. Thank you very much for being a secret agent -- and for your comments!

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  6. Nice opening. I also enjoyed that the creepy reason he shouldn't go into the woods is very different than the reason his mother doesn't want him to go in. Maybe a bigger hint about what makes these woods creepy. And I'm not sure about "almost a teenager" as a description of a middle grade kid.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments!

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  7. Great way to pull the reader in with the mystery lurking where lovely nature should be. The snappy tone works well. Perhaps you could vary your sentence more, to avoid the choppiness mentioned above. Some short sentences keep things moving, but if there are too many similar ones that can sound staccato. I like the Whoa. That's freaky weird. Perhaps it belongs at the very end after your m.c. sees something that is weird. Also, it's interesting that this kid's friends are at camp, unlike this kid. Makes me wonder why.

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    1. thank you so much for the comments!

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  8. Well, this is fun in a creepy, oh-no-don't-go-in-there kind of way. :) There's something in the woods and it doesn't appear to be a drug addict or gang meeting... As a mother, I want to say, "Run!" but the kid in me is itching for an adventure. I'm not sure if I like that he threw the ball so his dog wouldn't go with him or not... Anyway, really great. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments! And the dog does go with him. They are best friends. He just threw the ball while still deciding if he should go in or not.

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  9. Love the idea of the woods, the description and how the MC is drawn to them. My entry has a forest and it’s essential to my story. I hope you story is the same as it has multiple possibilities to enhance the story. One thing I did want to mention is your MC Cody was almost a teenager. Prior to reading that I thought the MC was younger for a MG urban fantasy. Besides that I like your work, it had good flow to the story.

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  10. Thank you for your comments! I wonder if you mean the mc being 12 didn't sound right with his voice or if 12 is not a normal age for mg urban fantasy.

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  11. Thank you for your comments! I wonder if you mean the mc being 12 didn't sound right with his voice or if 12 is not a normal age for mg urban fantasy.

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  12. I like this. Paints a clear picture of setting and the MC's desire to enter the woods. Since I have no idea of the bigger players in the story, I will try to make a small suggestion. Since you say it is fantasy, can the trees look like something from that genre rather than sci-fi? (ie. giant, moss-covered ogres instead of aliens) The last line is a great hook.

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  13. I like this. Paints a clear picture of setting and the MC's desire to enter the woods. Since I have no idea of the bigger players in the story, I will try to make a small suggestion. Since you say it is fantasy, can the trees look like something from that genre rather than sci-fi? (ie. giant, moss-covered ogres instead of aliens) The last line is a great hook.

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