Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #23

GENRE: MG Middle Grade Mystery

    Grandpa Jim had to be pulling my leg. The house in front of us looked like a zombie’s hideout, nothing like the other fancy mansions we had seen as we drove through Beaufort. Maybe we had ended up at the wrong place. Who would actually want to stay here?

    Not me.

    “This can’t be the place, Grandpa.” I squinted at a round object in the third-story window, trying to decide if it was a lampshade or a zombie head. “It looks more like a haunted castle than a hotel.”

    But Grandpa Jim was too busy maneuvering Blue Bessie into the weeds at the side of the gravel driveway to respond. Gnarled branches from the huge oaks scraped and screeched along the top of his motor home. I studied the dried, rusty stains running down the mansion’s exterior. If I squinted just right it looked like dripping blood. I shivered and glanced at my cousin Jake.

    “Welcome to Hotel Transylvania, Maggie.” Jake smirked and pointed his GoPro at the run-down mansion.

    Minutes earlier, as we’d driven down the plantation’s long winding road, excitement had swelled inside me like a balloon. I’d leaned forward in my seat, straining to get a glimpse of Darlington Plantation Manor, which Aunt Roza had described as “the most magnificent place she had ever seen.” But when the trees finally thinned, and the house came into view, the happy balloon inside me popped.

    The old mansion was the color of my mud-stained soccer cleats.


  1. Love the details: oaks scraping and screeching, the happy balloon, mud stained soccer cleats. I think you could give us more of that in the opening paragraph--before you say, "Grandpa Jim had to be pulling my leg." Right now, that first paragraph is kind of a "telly" (vs. showing) summary of the old mansion. How about some visceral details, like the ones you bring in further down?

  2. Your last line is great imagery! And the happy balloon is great. I agree with AJ, this would really grab my attention with some showing rather than telling. What does a zombie hideout look like? You've got the skills to show, that's evident with the gnarled branches and rusty stains. Just take that and apply it to the opening. Good luck!

  3. I love the imagery in this post. Like the first two commenters, I think you should make the second paragraph your opener and incorporate some of the visuals of the house from the first one like, "This can't be the place, Grandpa," I said, as the old mansion loomed in front of us, its eaves tattered, shutters hanging from their hinges... Otherwise I love the rest of the post. I would definitely read on!

  4. Love the imagery and details as well. Didn't enjoy the multiple squinting. Also, I found the backtracking..."minutes earlier" took me 'out of the moment.' Consider reordering the unfolding of events. Also agree with others, I'd love to feel what MC feels with the disappointment, fear, apprehension, dread, re: the "mansion." Best of luck. Love Beaufort...should make for a great locale.

  5. Great title! Great intrigue! I love the voice and everything about this screams mystery adventure.

    Thank you for sharing!