Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #10

GENRE: MG Contemporary

Average-size kids live in one world and short kids live in another. Want to be teased? Be a short kid. Want to be the last one picked for a football game? Be a short kid. Want to be mistaken for someone two or three years younger? Be a short kid. Want the biggest jerk in school to pick on you all the time? Be me. Jared Everett Hoover.

The good thing is Cassie’s never cared about any of that. My best friend since we were five, Cassie’s honest and fearless. We’re made from the same raw material, except for the sugar and spice and all that.

Cassie and I stand by a picnic table at the park waiting for our friend, Jimmy. It’s the last day of summer and we planned frisbee and lemonade before my mom picks us up.  Cassie tugs a strand of blond hair between her fingers and twirls it.

“You know, I jumped off the top of the bleachers today outside the gymnastics school,” she says.
“Nuh uh. No way.”

She flashes a full-faced grin. Her blue eyes and blond hair seem to sparkle in the sunshine. “Yep. And no broken bones. Not even a bruise.”

I whistle. “They turn the grass into cotton candy or something?”

“No, I’m just all that. And I never brag about it,” she replies.

“Uh, right. I forgot that modesty is your middle name. That and you never exaggerate.”

“Very funny.” She folds her arms and smirks.


  1. The opening paragraph is magnificent. The voice is strong. But after that nothing happens except telling us about his best friend and what she did in gym class. There are some good lines and info. but something needs to be happening. Is the problem that he is short -- that is going to be the challenge he overcomes? Or dealing with the bully or something else? Give a hint in those first 250 words. Try to capture that voice you get so well in the first few lines.

  2. Great MG voice with that opening paragraph! I enjoyed this...I think what's bothering me a little is that that opening is a little at odds with the scene that follows, because everything seems hunky dory. We get an idea from the title that there's going to be some relational sparring, but it hasn't shown up yet. Things seem idyllic. However...maybe things are about to go sour, at least in a small way? You might consider adding a foreshadowing hint or two about whatever is about to happen.

  3. I like the voice in this, the whole thing about being short and teased (my female mc has the opposite issue in my YA Cont.- she's super tall). I think you need to add in tension, give us a hint as to what obstacle your mc will have to overcome, something that foreshadows his challenge. Is it, as the title implies, his friend Cassie who wants to be his girlfriend or the fact he's short and being short is a hindrance to him?

  4. I love your first two paragraphs. The remainder of your opening is an abrupt change though. Even the voice feels different in the dialogue than the opening paragraph. I agree with the other comments, there needs to be a bit more action from your MC. I would keep reading because of the first paragraph. Good luck!

  5. hahahah! I was a short kid.

    I loved this opening--it's got a great voice, and it flows in a perfect MG way.

    The dialogue, however, feels stilted to me. I spend a lot of time with kids, and this doesn't ring genuine to me. Comparing the grass to cotton candy felt off. Also, gymnasts here and where I grew up would say "gym," not "gymnastics school," and so that felt forced as well. It may work better if Cassie prattled on about getting out of gymnastics and then jumping off the football bleachers, maybe?

    Still the opening read great, and I'd read on.

    Thank you for sharing!