Wednesday, January 13, 2010

20 Secret Agent

TITLE: Apple of Discord
GENRE: Middle Grade

Victoria felt like she had been holding her breath for weeks. There was a major pain in her gut thanks to that stupid funeral. It held a stranglehold on her, and it wasn’t going to go away until she saw her friends.

Finally Christmas break was over—she had not seen any of her friends for the two whole weeks of vacation. Kira had traveled to New York to see relatives, while Rose and Maggie both had homes full of family for the holidays.

Is there really such a thing as friends forever? How could Mom live in the same town with her so called best friend from school, and then not see her for twenty-three years until her funeral? Her funeral!

Panic threatened to overcome her every second of the drive to school. She couldn’t wait to see her friends, just to make sure they were real.

“What’s the matter, dear?” Mom said as she pulled into the carpool drop off lane. “You look fine.”

“Nothing Mom.” Why did she have to say something like that when I’m already freaking out? She adjusted her new purple scarf and looked down at the worn knees on her black jeans. It’s not like I’m going to a fashion show.

“Well, try to have a good day.”

Victoria slammed the door shut without glancing back at her mom. Her whole body felt unhinged and tingly, and the deep breath she was gasping for wasn’t coming. Forcing her feet to climb one concrete step at a time, she finally made it to the front door.


  1. I'm kind of confused by the first paragraph - she's been holding her breath, and that's why there's a pain in her gut? But then it has a stranglehold on her? And what do her friends have to do with it?

    It feels a little disjointed. After reading through twice, I think I understand: she's traumatized that her mom wouldn't stay close to her friend, until she dies, and that the same may happen to her and her friends. However, I would like to see it reworked to have a smoother flow.

    Also: "What's the matter, dear? and "You look fine" seem to contradict each other, until you realise, almost paragraph later, that she's talking about clothes, not how the girl feels.

    There seems to be some potential in the story here. Some reworking of the prose will pull it out and make it clearer.

    Good luck!

  2. I agree with Susan that the internal conflict isn't clear. For my tastes, there is a little too much telling of backstory and body pain/discomfort.

    Best of luck!

  3. The voice feels too old for middle grade. I also wanted more of a sense of this character. Overall, I wonder if your story is starting too early? Begin with the action, and give us something to connect with and care about right from the first page.

  4. This sounded more ya to me. I wasn't quite sure what was going on, maybe start out with the conflict first.

  5. I can see potential in this, but the conversation doesn't seem real and it feels like it jumps around a lot.

  6. I couldn't see a middle grader getting hung up on dying, especially by the death of a total stranger. Kids that age seem to think they'll live forever, or certainly a long time.

    Maybe give her some actual thoughts about her friends? How would I feel if kira or rose died?
    As is, it's just not touching me in any way.

    Maybe starting with the funeral might work?

  7. I agree with the other comments. I wondered in the first paragraph who had died: a grandmother or parent . . . someone who would be of major importance to a that age of child. When I learned it was her mother's friend who they hadn't seen in years, it didn't make a lot of sense to me why a kid would care.

    I think you've started this story in the wrong place. I suggest you begin with a full scene that shows the reader why she can't wait to get back to her friends. Or simply begin it when she gets out of the car and work the funeral in as the story goes on.

  8. I really like the title. However, I wasn't quite sure what was going on. I'm sure that will come with reading more, but I wasn't quite hooked.

    I was distracted by the word "friend". I think I saw it five times in the first four paragraphs. Perhaps a different word might work better?

  9. At first, I thought the girl's mother had died, particularly withe comment about her other friend's having houses full of family. I would also suggest starting this elsewhere, probably with the funeral? Make us understand why this is so traumatizing to her.