Wednesday, July 15, 2009

19 Secret Agent

TITLE: Spring Broken
GENRE: Middle Grade

Mrs. Hazel, it is not fair to give us homework over Spring Break! This is supposed to be a vacation. You want me to write in this journal and read a whole book too? I am going away for break. My whole family is going to Disney World for six days. Do you think I will have time to do homework? I will be screaming on Space Mountain and gliding through the jungle on a cruise boat. This is so not fair! I don’t think Mrs. Logan’s class had this assignment. By the way, with this sentence, I’ve written 102 words.

My mom burst into my room carrying a laundry basket. I slammed my notebook shut and shoved it under a stack of books on the desk.

“Maggie, have you even started packing yet?” She and I have a different timetable for everything. She makes lists and does things in order, checking them off as she goes. I get to things when I’m ready.

“I was finishing my homework. I have to write a minimum of a hundred words in my journal for each day of vacation.” I started digging around in my closet for my purple duffel bag.

“Why a hundred?” Mom asked.

“Mrs. Hazel said that a good paragraph averages about a hundred words.” I didn’t mention that she also said keeping a journal about our vacation as it happens will give richer detail to our writing than a “How I Spent My Vacation” essay written after we get back to school. “Why do we have to go to Grandma’s this week? It will be so boring. Why can’t we go with you and Daddy to the beach?”


  1. oohh interesting- so she's not going to Disney World. I like it! I'd read on!

  2. The first paragraph put me's just too repetitive and rambling. But I'm not your prospective readership either. :-) she going to Disney World or is she going to keep a fake journal of Disney World all summer?

  3. Mentally replaces 'sentence' with 'paragraph'***

    Another thing is pick one thing about Disney World and go with it. You don't want the kid's notebook scribble to sound like a Disney commercial. Unless you intend for the kid to recite a commercial, which actually is something that I can imagine one doing, now that I think about it. :P

    I think this idea is cute and I'd be curious about what will go into the journal.

    That said I kinda noticed that stylistically things could be moved around so it sits better on the page. Hanging some of the dialogue between paragraphs, so that it doesn't get buried as it seemed in a couple spots here in this snippet.

  4. Originally I wasn't hooked, but the revelation that she was lying about her vacation made the main character way more interesting to me and made me want to read on.

  5. I love that you are giving your reader credit for being able to figure out the protag is making up the Disney vacation. I don't like when everything is spelled out - but what I'd like is more of a jaw-dropping revelation that the mc is writing in the journal about a fictional Spring Break. I'd read on hoping for a very clever story!

  6. I like the voice, and I like that she's lying about what she's going to do on her vacation. Totally believable kid behavior!

    that said...Girl-writing-in-her-journal has been done so much. How, now even the wimpy boys are doing it! I'd rather see something fresher at the beginning, something more unique to your character.

  7. ohhhhh NICE!

    I like that she's going to MAKE UP the vacay!

    I am totally intrigued...

    I would make her either use contractions or not use them in her journal entries though... just for the sake of consistency.

  8. I liked the tone. I can see a 10 year old rambling on about nothing in order to come up with a 100 word paragraph. Should it be one hundred rather than a hundred at least when the mother speaks?

    I would read on.

  9. I wasn't at all hooked until you got to the revelation that she was lying...and then I was definitely intrigued.

    But I'm not sure if I picked this up in the library I'd get there, and I'm not sure how many target readers will get to there - and especially how many will get past the journal device. (I'd be tempted to try to come up with another way to get the same twists and turns.)

    But, having said that, I'd turn the page to see what was coming.

    good luck.

  10. It wasn't until I read the other comments that I thought she was lying about her vacation. In my neck of the woods, kids get two weeks, so I figured she was going to gma's before Disney. So at first I wasn't hooked, but if she is lying, then I'd be curious and read more

  11. I was confused by the last paragraph - why does she tell the teacher they are going to Disney World? I think you could make it tighter and more clear why she's lying. Will the protagonist continue to write in the journal? That could be interesting to see how her head and "real life" differ.

    I'm not sure what the story is about yet though. Their vacation?

    Good luck!

  12. I agree with the posts above- I like the idea that she's not being honest about her vacation- makes me wonder why.

    But I think you should change it from journalling to blogging.

  13. Good stuff. Definitely like the twist here- while it was at the end of your 250 words here, it's at the beginning of your book, which reels us right in to know that something is up. Is she a habitual liar? Trying to fit in? Or is she just an imaginative girl with her head in the clouds? I'd read on for sure! Also- I was curious about why they aren't going with their parents. I was thinking, wow, kids off school for a week? Why are parents going somewhere else? So- I was instantly curious about family dynamic. (Plus, there is a sibling or two here I am guessing.) Good stuff.

    I like the contrast in your character and her mom. I don't agree with Lee about "one hundred." I think "a hundred" is more natural. I also don't agree with the blogging suggestion... first off, we don't know when your story is set, but secondly, if MC going to grandparents, maybe they aren't wired people? Or maybe she doesn't have a laptop?

    Curious, and you don't have to answer, but several mentioned that a journal device is overdone and I tend to agree. I am thinking that maybe your story isn't completely going to be journal entries and instead, it's just a part of what she has to do. I just didn't want to assume it would be just journaling. But even if it is, you did have me reeled in. Nice job.

    Quick afterthought - just reread and now Maggie's hiding the journal makes sense. Good hint there.

  14. I'm into it. The MC rings true for me.

  15. I've mentioned on another sample that I don't like the journal device, but I like that she is lying in this one, which makes it much more interesting to me.

    I'd definitely read on to see why.

  16. I agree whole-heartedly with the secret agent.


  17. I wasn't at all intrigued by the fact that she lied in her journal. I just figured she found it easier to make up 100 words a day about a fictional trip to Disney World than a boring vacation at her grandma's. That's how a kid thinks.

    I like the MC but I would need to have an inkling about some interesting reason for the lie to compell me to go on.

    I liked the line about her and her mom having a different timetable for everything. That is very realistic when in comes to adults vs kids mentality.

  18. There's enough here to make it intriguing --

    Lying in the journal
    not having vacation with parents
    finding out Grams probably won't be so boring.

    I'd read more.

  19. The journal device probably is a danger zone. You'd have to be very sure you are talking the lingo when you write it otherwise it would crash the book before you even started the engine.