Wednesday, July 15, 2009

35 Secret Agent

TITLE: Sketch McGee
GENRE: YA Superhero

I held my breath and dove into the crawl space just before a flashlight beam swept across the wall.

The echo of police boots trailed away. After a thirty count to make sure they’d left, I exhaled, tried not to throw up, and checked for the gem in my pocket.

Still there. Good.

I wiggled out of the crack and glanced back at the glass case that held the Queen’s Ruby just moments before. With only a few seconds before an entire team of forensic specialists showed up to comb the place for evidence, I needed to get out of there—somehow.

Frantically, I surveyed the room and decided on an exit strategy. Above me, a high ceiling with oversized metal pipe beams crisscrossed in a design more fashion than function. They housed a huge octagon shaped skylight with several smaller windows chained together.

That’s what I saw in my drawing.

I snatched the grappling hook off my black patent leather belt and shot it towards the ceiling next to the skylight. Missing the beams entirely, the hook smashed to the floor. The loud clank against the tile reverberated down the hall, probably alerting everyone to my whereabouts.


I pushed the retract button and prayed for it to work. The hook snaked back and nicked my black nail polish. Damn, those nails cost me seventeen bucks at the Fluff and Buff.
I shot the hook once more, and the rope wrapped around a beam three times. After a quick tug to make sure it held tight—you never knew with the smackin’ things—I grabbed the end with both hands and fluttered up to the ceiling.


  1. this attracted me b/c I am currently writing a superhero novel too! the first part is serious and then it gets light and funny- I like where you are going with it.

  2. I like this. Yes, would read on.

  3. There were places where this read well, places where it was wordy, and other details that didn't fit.

    "With only a few seconds before an entire team of forensic specialists showed up to comb the place for evidence..." that phrase is way too long to start a sentence with.

    Your sentence subjects go from from "a high ceiling" to "They" and I got confused. Shouldn't "metal pipe beams" be the subject in the first so the two sentences agree?

    "my black patent leather belt" - seemed like too much detail. If you're trying to escape, who cares that much about a belt?

  4. I like how you start off running. Let's get right into the action, but there's isn't too much. It's upfront: gotta get out.

    Some of the details could be left out, but that may just be a character trait (fashion conscious?).

    I'd read on. (Have read on some ;P)

  5. I'm semi-hooked. I think I'd like a little setup -- who's talking, even just a glimpse of the character so I can connect (I like "Damn, those nails cost me seventeen bucks at the Fluff and Buff" -- gives me a hint of this person).

    Two things pulled me out. 1) Starting the 5th para with "Frantically" -- personal pet peeve, starting a sentence with an adverb like that. Let the scene speak for itself. 2) Paragraph 6 "That's what I saw in my drawing." Could totally be just me, but I'm lost. What drawing? At first I thought this person was drawing the scene (with the name Sketch McGee), like a comic book. But then I wasn't sure. So it just stopped me cold, and I'm not sure if I'd keep going.

  6. Yep, I was having fun until "that's what I saw in my drawing." Then I was totally confused.

    It's maybe too fast - without getting a little more of the setting, the character, what the Queen's Ruby is - it's hard to know how nervous to be.

    At first I pictured the kid diving into a hole in an alley. The setting needs to be made clearer, I think.

    Good voice, though. This has lots of potential.

  7. I'm not sure about the title. You've probably never had your title critiqued but hey, it's in the post. "Sketch" makes me think of either an artist or a jerk. An artist who's a jerk. Is that really the name of your superhero? Sounds a bit sketch to me.

    Why does he/she hold his breath? Is there water down there? And if there's no water, how do you dive down there? Is it a Reverse 1 1/2 Somersault in the Tuck Position?
    I have no idea where she is. Suddenly she's in a crack. Whose crack? Is she on crack? She is pretty frantic. I would be frantic if I were in a crack.

    Do the ceiling or the beams crisscross? How does one chain a window to another? With the metal pipes?

    Where did her drawing come from? Did she ever hear of "casing"? That's when you actually study your target instead of random drawings. She needs to do her homework.

    Now. Why did she shoot her black patent leather belt towards the skylight? I mean it sounds a bit tacky, but it must be an important fashion accessory.

    And for heavens sake, why can't she use the potty??! I really feel sorry for her at this point. Or maybe it was someone else's crap. Still, I feel sorry.

    I probably should add a retract button for this post...but I've been drinking so what the hey.

  8. Not bad. I'd probably keep going, but you haven't sold me yet.

    There were some places where the action felt sort of 'well no duh you did that.' Maybe you don't have to describe everything so much.

    octagon shaped = octagonal

  9. I had a little trouble picturing this scene. Where is this crawl space? How is it that there is an opening into crawl space in a room holding a valuable gem? Unless she came through that way? I can't imagine a room that needed to be secure would have such a crack in it.

    The drawing sentence made me think that maybe she was drawing this scene and it wasn't really happening.

    I'd also like to know how she flutters up the ceiling. Is she very strong? Does the grappling hook have one of those retractable thingys?

    I like girl superheroes, and would read on to see how she gets away.

  10. This isn't really my cup of tea, but I think you have a good voice, and this jumps right into tension & conflict.

    Nice work!

  11. I loved how you start in the middle of the action. I agree, you don't need the "frantically." I think we get that. The comment about the drawing stopped me too - somewhat awkward but I'd still read on. The "smackin' things" put me off too. Never heard the term and seemed out of place. I really liked the line about her $17 nails.
    Overall, good start that would keep me reading.

  12. This seems a little familiar-- right now it seems a bit Gallagher Girls-- and I would probably be disinclined to request it unless the synopsis showed clear deviation from the similar books already on the market.

    That said, I like that you drop us into the action right away and that you give us some character details (like being sort of a girlie girl) without coming right out and telling us.

    I might suggest rethinking the title if only because MANIAC MAGEE is such a well known, award-winning book.

  13. I loved it! This is something I would read just for fun, and I can see lots of kids wanting to read it, too. It's fast, and fun and quirky.

    Although I did imagine the MC as a boy, even after mentioning the patent leather belt and the nails. And whether the MC is male or female, I'm glad you mentioned them. Those are the kinds of details that make the book fun.

  14. I enjoyed this. It was very readable and flowed well. I found the number of sentences that you offset to their own lines a little bit jarring, but just because there was so many in this short space:
    "Still here. Good"
    "That's what I saw in my drawing"

    Just a nitpick. But that device really highlights the sentence and perhaps would be more effective if used less often. I'd definitely read more.