Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Secret Agent #2

Genre: MG Contemporary Fantasy

It was Saturday, and there were three things I absolutely, positively knew were true. One: There was no such thing as magic. Two: Everything had a scientific explanation. And three: I was NOT losing the Bradford Middle School science fair again this year.

Blissfully ignorant that all three of those things were about to go flying out the window, I watched Mr. Johnson with narrowed eyes as he wandered the other end of the science classroom. He stopped to talk to Michelle Mowry. Based on her tray of plant cuttings, Michelle was gunning for the botany vote this year. She clearly had no idea that a botany-based project hadn't won first place at a Bradford science fair in eight years. Amateur.

I looked down at my proof-of-concept device, which fit completely into a shoebox. I slipped my finger into the tube, wiggled it around, and grinned with pride as my harvesting circuitry did its thing and converted the movement into energy that lit up the small bulb attached to it. Converting the body’s energy into usable electricity was a high school, maybe even college-level project. They might as well just skip the fair entirely and hand me the prize right now.

It was ridiculous that I had to go to those lengths, of course. At any other school, I was good enough to win with a baking soda and vinegar volcano tied behind my back. But nooo, I had to live in the same school district as Isaac Lyman.


  1. I love your protagonist's certainty that everything has a scientific explanation, and her obviously competitive nature with regard to the science fair. The introduction of her major competitor in the last paragraph suggests an interesting dynamic between the two of them, as well as lots of potential for plot developments.

    Just a couple suggestions: I'm not sure why knowing it's Saturday is important enough to be in the first sentence (or anywhere, perhaps). Also, since the title of the MS already tells us that the MC doesn't believe in magic, her statement to that effect in the first paragraph seems redundant and even a bit confusing (she's very science-oriented, so why would she even be thinking about magic? Has something already happened to make her do so?). Consider having her state two things she knows are true rather than three, and leave out the magic part until she has a reason to discount it.

    Paragraph two - consider leaving out the first clause, and just start with "I watched." We'll find out soon enough (I hope!) that things are going to change.

    Para three - I was a bit confused what you meant by "harvesting circuitry."

    Overall, a fun opening that leaves me wanting to read more!

  2. I like the mc voice. Just a couple of questions and possible line edits. You mention this is a school science fair and I wondered why the mc in the last sentence says "school district" alluding to the science fair involving more than one school. Is Isaac Lyman the antagonist, attends Bradford Middle School? If so, since the first chapter involves the mc and one other student, maybe find a place to briefly mention Isaac and his project. Also, this science fair is limited to one classroom and my recollection of science fair settings is they're usually in a bigger space to accommodate several science classes. You might consider setting this in an auditorium/cafeteria/gym instead and suggest many more students competing against the mc.

  3. I like this, but the MC doesn’t seem very nice. That can be a turn off in the beginning.

  4. I like the arrogance of the MC's voice -- it gives your MC a very distinctive tone and lots of room for character growth throughout your story.

    I do think your opening paragraph needs to be reworked. Wendy P's suggestions are spot-on, so I'd give those a good look.

    I am curious about what Isaac Lyman will break out for the science fair. Good job!

  5. This also has great personality! The one bit I stumbled on is in the first line, “there’s no such thing as magic.” The rest of the scene-setting here feels pretty straightforwardly realistic, and most middle schoolers today aren’t setting out to prove that magic isn’t real--it’s a starting assumption. It makes for good foreboding (how will she be proven wrong?), but maybe magic should be thing # 3 on her list?

    The MC’s fierce competitiveness is really charming—I’d look out for other angles of her personality to emerge in the following pages to keep connecting with her.