Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #42

GENRE: MG Contemporary

I stare out the family room window, fixated on the road, like the dog next door on his chain. Here comes a car. I perk up. It’s coming, coming.

Nope. Not Dad.

I frown in the direction it goes, pressing my nose on the glass and fogging it up with my breath. Across the street, Dion’s dad is backing out of their driveway. Dion waves at me through the window of the backseat. I wave back.

Another car comes. Also, not Dad. I know he’s probably stuck in traffic on the bridge or near the tunnel and it’s not his fault, but still. My heart sinks.

“Katelyn?” Mom calls from the kitchen. “You’re gonna be late. Want me to run you over?”

“No,” I say. He’ll be here. But seeing Dion pull away with his dad makes my eyeballs sting because if Dad were here, still living under the same roof as us, this part would be easy. We’d be on our way to baseball.

That was before Dad moved out months ago.

Now he’s sleeping at Uncle Joe’s, he says because it’s closer to his work. My parents think if they don’t tell me what’s really happening, I won’t be upset, but I know what’s really happening. They’re gonna split for good.

I need to figure out a way to stop it or fix it.

A good luck trick will help. I know it. But I need a really good one, which is why I haven’t decided on one yet.


  1. Great opening! You've already set up a compelling character with a goal, motivation, and stakes! I like the comparison to the anticipation of the dog; it created an image. I would definitely read on. I like the "eyeballs sting" description.
    A few suggestions - I don't think people actually frown in a direction. I think the MC could just frown, press her nose against the glass, and watch the fog spread. Also, I'd cut the last phrase of the selection- But I need a really good one -- just stop there. It leaves more of a sense of anticipation without the "I haven't decided on one yet"
    Great start and good luck!

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  3. You set the scene well. I can tell that Katelyn is eager to see her dad, and sense her disappointment when it's not his car approaching the house. I like the description of "eyeballs sting" and that she's fixated (I hope your young readers look that word up if they don't know it, like I used to do!).

    I suggest tightening up the bottom three paragraphs. I get what you mean by "I need to figure out a way to stop it or fix it," but that seems a bit word. I think if you just say something along the lines of "Dad needs to come home. It's up to me to fix it," then we can go from there to find out what the plan is. I want her to have a plan in place and to be along for the ride.
    Thanks for sharing! Also, these are just my thoughts, so take 'em or leave 'em.

  4. I love this! The opening has so much great detail and emotion.

  5. Great opening line! I second the earlier suggestion that the language could be tightened up. For example, "really" is often an unnecessary word.

  6. I love the opening paragraph and the dog simile. It almost makes me think this is going to be a humorous story, but the subsequent paragraphs come across as more serious and sad. I'm a bit confused by the last paragraph - what is a good luck trick? Could the importance of luck, tricks, or both come up before Katelyn makes this conclusion?

  7. This is a FABULOUS opening. There's motion, there's tension, we are getting background information without it just being exposition. I see a few places where things could be potentially tightened a bit further, but overall, really great job.

  8. I like all of this except the "good luck trick" part which confused me. What is a good luck trick? It sounds like a way to trick them to getting back together although I'm not sure why that would be good luck.


  9. I really like this, and the comparison to the dog across the street was cute. I feel for this MC, and her take on the situation all felt very real. I'm rooting for her.

  10. I really like the idea of a "good luck trick." The problem you are setting up is one that MG readers will relate to. You capture the angst of waiting well.

  11. I really liked this opening. You feel for the narrator immediately.

  12. Great opening. You get a real sense of the character and her wants right from the start. I was a little confused by the "good luck trick" line. It threw me out of this very real world you've created and made me think we were heading into some kind of fantasy world.