Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #44

Title: The B.I.M. - Basic Intelligence Model
Genre: MG Science Fiction

Something smashed against the window, and it hit hard. Daniel shoved the kitchen chair aside to get past the table and squished his nose up against the dirty glass pane.

Talk about a feathered frenzy! Outside, dozens of chickens flapped everywhere. Up and down, left and right, feathers thick as clouds. Dead in the center of it all, running around and waving his arms like a bird brain himself, was Uncle Bob.

"Dag nab it, chickens! Get back into that coop!" The old man's voice thundered in the squawking storm.

Daniel shook his head, turned around with a grunt and headed out the door. His uncle might be great with driving his tractors around and growing the corn in the fields, but when it came to animals, the old man didn't have a clue. If he waited for the old man to shoo those chickens back into their coop, they'd be sitting there all day. All week.

"I'm coming, Uncle Bob. I'm coming!" Daniel let the screen door slam closed behind him and took the three concrete stairs leading down to the cracked sidewalk in one leap. He rounded the corner of the white painted house and came to a skidding stop in the middle of the lawn.

Uncle Bob turned to face him, sweat dripping down the side of his face. He looked a lot like Santa Claus, not the clean ho-ho-hoey kind, but one that had rolled in the reindeer's straw while greasing and waxing up the sleigh.


  1. Hello!

    This is great fun. I love fun MG voices and there's a great pace to go along with it. MG readers love clever word-play, and I think you've done a good job of getting that voice.

    Good sentences:

    'Talk about a feathered frenzy!'

    'He looked a lot like Santa Claus, not the clean ho-ho-hoey kind', although this sentence ends awkwardly. I'm not sure the rest of it completely comes across. Go for a cleaner simile, I would say.

    I'd also query the use of 'the old man' repeatedly when we know his name is Uncle Bob. It's a bit distancing.

    Overall, this sounds fun -- I hope it gets to the Sci-Fi soon!

    Good work and good luck!

  2. Fun story and entertaining voice.
    I'd like to see a clue as to what this the window, maybe some feathers plastered to it by the time Daniel gets there?

    I agree there are a few repeated words that could be fixed. Your actions are well done, simple to the point and very visual. Good job!

  3. I love your ability to make me, the reader, have such a vivid visual. Great work! This seems like a story with a fun side.

    I do agree with the others--there are some repetitive words that could be trimmed to tighten things up a bit.

    In your first sentence, you write "Something smashed against the window, and it hit hard." This is a bit redundant, as the word "smash" already insinuates a hard hit. You can probably get rid of it, or shorten it to "Something smashed against the window, hard", italicizing the word "hard" for impact.

    Lastly, the genre is listed as Sci-Fi, but there is no hint to it in the opening page. Maybe try to introduce one element (hard to do in the first 250; believe, I know), to give the read a tiny inkling of the genre.

    Good luck--you're off to a good start! :)

  4. There is a lot going on here that I like. Your voice is distinct and fun. I can tell right away that Uncle Bob will be an enjoyable character (though you should try to find another way to describe him besides "old man"). And I like that you start with some action.

    That said, the very first sentence wasn't my favorite. Something hit the a reader I want to know what that something was, especially if it's the first word I'm reading. I think it would be a stronger opening if you just said, A chicken slammed against the window...

    I would keep reading if I could.

  5. Lots of good things here, but I'm a stickler for logic.

    If the windows are dirty why did a chicken fly into one?
    Were the feathers thick as clouds? Or was it a storm cloud of feathers?

    Also watch out for redundancy. e.g. Delete 'around' after tractor
    Make sure the ends of your sentences don't use weak words/phrases. Eg. reword 'the corn in the fields' to something like 'big eared corn'
    And that the image is correct. E.g. 'sidewalk' rather than 'walkway' tells me it's urban and the house is close to the street. That may be my personal bias, but I'm thinking the chickens are in the city not on a farm.

    Love the energy of paragraph 5. The other paragraphs need to match it though. Just little changes and tightening that others have commented on.
    E.g 'He looked a lot like Santa Claus, not the clean ho-ho-hoey kind, but one that had rolled in the reindeer's straw while greasing and waxing up the sleigh'
    could be something like
    'He looked a lot like Santa Claus, not the clean ho-ho-hoey kind, more like a sweaty scarecrow version with straw sticking out all the wrong places.'
    either way, minimally delete 'and waxing' it doesn't add to the image.

    One last thing. Uncle Bob seems to be referred to as 'old man' a little frequently.

    I would keep reading, and I wouldn't worry about rushing into the sci-fi. I'm sure part of the story is the contrast, and you need something to contrast against.

  6. This sounds like a fun read, and I'd definitely like to continue on. To have a farmer clueless about animals is funny enough to keep me going, but your descriptions are great.

    Others have commented about small issues I found, so I won't repeat them. I do find one thing that stuck out for me, however. He's rushing outside to help Uncle Bob, but you take the time to tell us it's a white house. That stops me in the middle of this mad dash to get out there and help round up those chickens! I know we want to describe the scene so the reader gets a vivid picture, but I think you have already done a fine job of it as is. Unless the white house is important, why not let the reader create some of the scene in his head to fit his own perspective of a working farm? Just my own opinions.

    Otherwise, as I said, I think you have a good beginning. Good luck with it.

  7. I can already tell I love the sense of humor and characters in this book. The fact that it's scifi and starts with chickens just makes me even happier. I had trouble with the voice. "Feathered frenzy" sounds almost like a picture book, and part of it sounds like it might be Daniel's POV, but the feathered frenzy and Santa Claus line sound much older, like a grandfatherly narrator figure.

  8. This is so much fun! The voice is clear right from the start, and you're painting a great picture of Uncle Bob! I love the Santa Claus analogy. With all the chaos, I'm wondering if there's a spaceship outside or something. :) Like why are the chickens all of sudden start going ballistic? What's ruffling their feathers? If there is something outside, I'm wondering if it's making some kind of noise or casting a shadow or crashed into something...just to give the opening pages the tiniest element of crazy science fiction stuff to come? But I would keep reading either way. I want to know what's going on with the chickens, and Daniel sounds like a fun person to follow around.

  9. This is such a fun read. Your characters are great--I love Uncle Bob! You might re-look at this sentence: Dead in the center of it all, running around and waving his arms like a bird brain himself, was Uncle Bob. I'm very literal and thought at first that Uncle Bob was a zombie (DEAD and in the center). Probably just me, but...

  10. Writer hive brain — so many different references and metaphors to chickens in this round… and now we have actual chickens! The opening line isn’t my favorite, but I love the opening line of paragraph two. As chickens are relatively flightless birds, I’m wondering how one managed to smash against the window! Watch your repetitions (especially of ‘the old man’ and ‘around’).

    I’m not getting any SciFi elements coming through here just yet, but the voice is certainly enough for me to keep reading more. It’s fun and has a great cadence to it that keeps things moving forward rather than remaining stagnant — but at the same time doesn’t move too fast that details are lost. Nicely done!

  11. Nice comparison of Uncle Bob to Santa Claus!

    You might want to look at parg 5. It’s overly descriptive in that you’re describing things that don’t need to be described. We have three concrete stairs, a cracked sidewalk, and a white painted house. They stand out because the wording is the same and they all come in close proximity.

    Is it important that the reader knows there are 3 concrete steps and that the sidewalk is cracked? For instance, will someone trip over that crack at a crucial moment in the story? If not, you don’t need it. You’re describing something inconsequential. The same is true of the stairs and the house. Just have the MC run outside to Uncle Bob.

    But if those things are important, then describing them does matter, and they should probably be described more fully, but not all together.

    And you refer to Uncle Bob as ‘the old man’ three times, also in close proximity, so that stood out, too. You might want to change things up a bit.