Monday, March 1, 2021

Are You Hooked? #7

TITLE: Montysaurus
GENRE: MG Magical Realism

Everyone knows dinosaurs are extinct. They lived over a hundred and fifty million years ago, and all that’s left of them are a bunch of fossils and bones. That’s what I thought too, until I met Monty.

It all started on the day of our class trip to the Royal Ontario Museum, or the ROM. We were going to see a new dinosaur exhibit, called “T-Rex, The Ultimate Killing Machine.” At the time, I would have rather met up with a T-Rex in a dark alley than tour the ROM with my class.

“You’ve been grumbling all morning. What’s wrong?” my Mum asked. She had this keen Spidey sense and could always tell when something was bugging me.

“I’m not feeling well,” I said, which was kind of true. My stomach was tying itself into knots.

Mum felt my forehead. “You don’t have a fever.” She put her hands on my shoulders and looked me square in the eye. “You love dinosaurs. Why don’t you want to go?”

I shrugged. I didn’t want to tell her the truth, which was that we would be eating our lunches together at tables in the museum cafeteria and the odds were good that no one would want to sit with me.

“I don’t know anyone at my new school,” is what I said instead.

"You've only been there a few weeks, honey. Don't worry. You'll make friends," Mum reassured me. "Sometimes you have to make the first move. Ask if you can join in."


  1. 65 million. (Or 240 to 65 million, if he's really a dinosaur expert.) Other than that, this opening has a story question, emotional peril for the MC, and a title and opening paragraph that suggests enough about where the story might be going to hook the intended audience.

  2. Aw, I already have a lot of sympathy for our MC, but am hopeful that Monty is someone who becomes his friend right away. His concerns are relatable, and I feel terrible for him that he doesn't want to go on the field trip because he's afraid he'll be alone, even though he loves dinosaurs and should really want to go. I really don't have much to critique here - this is very well done. I'd read on!

  3. Relatable and I'm curious to know the real reason no one would want to sit with him. I'd read on!

    IMO: I think the dinosaur dates are fine as is. One who loves dinosaurs doesn't mean he's an expert.

  4. Hooked! Great voice. Well done.

    One quibble: him saying he didn't know anyone yet is basically the same as him saying they'll be eating alone IMO (and in fact softens the blow for that eventuality). The contrast between what he doesn't want to say to his mother and what he actually says should be more distinct (I would argue anyway).

  5. Decent clean prose, but I'd suggest amping up either the voice or the hook. MC doesn't exactly read like a middle-schooler, and the emotional stakes, though sincere and terrible, are perhaps a bit old hat. 'New kid in town' is a common trope. Tropes are fine, but I'd caution that you're going to have to put in extra work to convince readers (especially agents -- I hate to be 'that guy', but I have noticed that they crave novelty) that *your* take on the trope is unique.

  6. Everyone else's comments are valid. The only thing I would add is a minor one. Your sentence about the cafeteria is overly long. You can remove "together at tables" to shorten, and b/c it's assumed there are tables in the caf. Together is also a given. I would also break that sentence and start a new one with "The odds..." Readers generally like shorter sentences, and I'm sure MG would require that even more. Otherwise, a great start. :)

  7. I feel for your dinosaur-loving MC! Agree with WAW that not wanting to sit alone and telling his mum he has no friends repeats the same information twice. You've missed an opportunity to reveal more about your character with what he tells his mum about why he doesn't want to go. Is he going to get in trouble in the book for making up stories, such as about the dinosaur named Monty? Then have him tell her a story (even if it's true) here. "The museum is haunted." "Bats live there."

    I'd read on.

  8. I wasn't quite hooked, and I think it might be that you're starting your story in the wrong place. Why not go straight to the museum and show your MC alone, either walking alone or sitting alone at lunch. Then he could remember his mom's advice to make the first move. Is he brave enough to try? If he tries, does it work? That's where the real suspense comes in, and we'll feel it along with him.

    I also just realized that by the end of the 250, I still don't know the MC's name. That's always a struggle with 1st person, but you could slip it into the dialogue pretty easily.

    Dinosaurs are always a fun topic, and "Montysaurus" is a great name, both for the dinosaur and the book. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

  9. The first paragraph makes me think I will learn about Monty and doesn't connect with the rest of this selection. I think you could start with the second paragraph and hint at Monty somewhere.

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