Wednesday, January 13, 2010

25 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Jack Pack
GENRE: MG Mystery

Jolly Vaughn Walker ran through the misty meadow past the twisted gravel road to the town’s main attraction. He squeezed his spindly body between the chained doors of Durmont Game Farm’s rear entrance. The last zebra was being hauled away that morning and he wanted to say goodbye. The owners sold the animal because of too many hard years and few ticket sales.

The fog thickened. It curled around his knees with every step like the white tail of a curious cat. Distant thunder rumbled. If Jolly stopped to listen, he’d know the storm didn’t come from the sky. He’d stop then run the other way.

In the upper field next to the zebra pen sat a strange covered wagon. Strange because of the colored, silk scarves stitched like patchwork to the arching canvas. Looping, purple letters painted on the side planks read ‘Jasmine the Gypsy Princess’.

That’s odd, too. Jolly had never seen royalty before or even one claiming to be so.

No horse or leather riggings attached to the wagon’s front forks. Jolly looked for an animal grazing in the field, but it was still too dark to see most of the rolling meadow.

He Fanned the fog curious to see what held the two wooden posts up. He felt nothing, could see nothing.

He thought it could be locked at the base of the wagon. Even locked, how could it just sit there balanced on one axle with two wheels?


  1. This feels overwritten. Simplify, find the voice of the main character, clarify his actions. It seems there's too much going on without a clear enough motivation for it.

  2. I confess, I have absolutely no idea what's being described with the two wooden posts and the whatever locked at the base of the wagon. I agree with Secret Agent (is that too sycophant-y? ;)) that simpler is better - this is so overwritten I've lost the thread of the action.

    Consider referencing the zebra at the top of paragraph one - it would be a very interesting way to start. Good luck!

  3. I found I wasn't exactly sure what was going on here. I think maybe there's just too much description and not enough action and/or character development.

    Although, I wouldn't cut out all the description because I think some of it really helps to set the mysterious mood. My favorite part was when you described how the fog was like the tail of a cat.

  4. Some good description. Interesting that he's going to see the zebra for the last time. Lost me on the wagon and what's in the fog. A little tightening here would work wonders. Cat tail fog line is very good.

  5. I was curious what was going on. Loved the idea of the game farm closing and the zebra. And the part about him never meeting royality.

    The line about the thunder not coming from the sky was out of pov--I'm assuming this is 3rd person Jolly's pov.

  6. You have a lot of good stuff here. A great name - Jolly Vaugh Walker, an eerie set up with the fog and the mysterious gypsy wagon, and the threat of 'the storm' that didn't come from the sky.

    I don't think it's overwritten so much as not written well. He's going to see the zebra and there's no mention of weather except 'misty meadow.' Then the fog thickens, but there hasn't been any fog as yet. Set the fog up in the first parg. And instead of telling us what you know about the rumbling thunder, let us hear what Jolly thinks of it, or convey its evilness in the way you describe it, rather than just saying thunder rumbled.

    And it sounds like you know the workings of a wagon, but most of us don't. Try to make that description clearer.

    Again, there's good stuff here. Revision will make it better.

  7. I do love a good mystery--who's the princess? Is she buying the zebra? How'd the wagon get there? Did catch my interest, even if your prose is a bit flowery. Some great elements!

  8. Thank you for the constructive feedback. Much appreciated.

  9. I like the beginning paragraph, but became confused the more I read. Too much is introduced without clarification. It feels as if a longer section had been cut and pasted to fit the 250 word limit. I love reading MG mysteries, and I think with some work this will provide a good read.

  10. This has some intriguing elements, but just needs some work as others have noted. The part about the storm confused me, partly because of the tense used. This is in Jolly's POV, but this sentence sounds like an omniscient voice telling us something about Jolly. Is he not listening to the storm, and that's why he doesn't run? It's not clear.

  11. those first few sentences drag it down, I think. When every single noun has its adjective, and every sentence has more than a few nouns... It's just too much to process. Shorter, cleaner descriptions would be more effective, I think.

    And at the end, I was completely lost. Somehow we dropped all hint of the zebra and had something else going on, but I don't know what. what is he looking for on the wagon? Why?

  12. Enough of the wagon. Can only kick myself so many times before I break my leg.
    That, on top of the verbal abuse I'm getting from my sister for the changes, should be enough for the week.
    *Laugh w/me, it could be worse*
    The beginning isn't clear and I should probably start w/lightning zipped from one foggy cloud to the other striking Jolly's thieving butt, but not now.
    I'll set it aside, print out y'alls feedback (none of it is going to waste) for a fresh eye next week.

    Y'all are awesome and I truly mean that! Thanks for stopping by, including JudScotKev. Hopefully I'll catch up w/you at the cooler.

    And as always, many thanks to Authoress.
    And the Secret Agent. (You thought I forgot) Thank you for your time.

  13. Not really hooked. I actually didn't think this was too overwritten, and I think I understand what's going on with the wagon. (It's just suspended there, upright but with no animals attached to it - right?) But Jolly's character just didn't draw me in.

    Also, the genre confuses me a bit. That second to last paragraph suggests that Jolly can do magic ("He Fanned the fog..."), but the genre doesn't suggest this is fantastical at all. If there is fantasy involved here, that's probably the more important subgenre, since fantasies often involve mystery of some kind.

    Good luck with this.

  14. Hi Krista,
    Thank you for stopping by.
    Yes, just suspended, no animals attached.
    "He fanned the fog" I thought if I included 'w/his hand' it would have been 'well of course he used his hand what else' for the reader and I took it out.

    Up early and sitting in the garage watching the fog roll by @5a w/a pad and pen got this whole excerpt down to just a few concise sentences. However, that could be wrong too, haha

    As for fantasy or mystery i keep getting mixed feedback.
    Thank you again!