Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #10

TITLE: The Goode Girl
GENRE: Young Adult


I don't ask for a lot. Really. In my family, there's not much to ask for, anyway. I guess you could say that demand out-weighs supply. But even if there was anything to ask for, I wouldn't. It's just not me. I'm kind of happy with what I've got so why ask for more when I don't need it? Still, it would be nice if, just once, I could ask for this: To get through the day without someone making fun of my name.

Just once.


No, of course not. That never seems to be the case. Inevitably, someone, some time, is struck by the urge to make fun of my name. And how could they resist? With an unfortunate moniker like Irene Goode, they have a lot to work with.

Yes, that's right.



That's me. A born punchline for all the budding comedians of Amory High. Or wanna-be mean girls.

Today, it was Bridget Taylor stepping up for her shot at school fame. And me. One thing about Bridget: She lacks imagination. So rather than dazzling her classmates with her stunning wit, she fell short with a dull pun. A variation of which she'd been slinging at me since our first encounter in grade school.

"Can you pass this to the Goode girl?"

Real witty, Bridget.

Oh, well, at least I managed a comeback before the teacher intervened. "Well, that was as original as your nose," I said with feigned innocence.


  1. I like this insight into the character, but have to say, it's a pretty big setup for a name that really isn't that funny.

  2. I like the opening. I'd like to tighten the end of the first paragraph a bit:
    I'm happy with what I've got. Still, it would be nice if, just once, I could get through the day without someone making fun of my name.

    Would a teen really use the word moniker?

    I'm hoping this character is going to have a bigger problem than her name.

  3. I agree that this is a big set up for a not such an unusual name. Unless she was at a school full of whores where they are training them for porn and she wants to be a nun when she grows up. Then I can see people making fun of her name.

    Also, a lot of this you could show, it could all come out in action and drama.

  4. I'm not hooked.

    I agree with the commenters above me, but this is also based on personal taste.

    Good luck with SA!

  5. I really like the voice. Your MC sounds interesting and I'd like to keep reading, finding out more about her. I was confused by the name thing, though. I kept reading it over and then reading it out loud to figure out what the joke was. Didn't seem like that strange of a name. (I liked her comeback, though! Funny.)

  6. I like the voice a lot (though it could be tightened a bit, e.g. cut 2-3 sentences from P1, cut "Please?", etc.).

    Agree with other commenters about the name though. I don't see the joke. But then my HS English teacher called me "a damn hiney," so that's where my bar is.

  7. I like this with the exception of the first paragraph. I think it moves smoothly once I stumble through that. I would suggest cutting the first paragraph. I re-read this without it, and it doesn't seem to detract from the excerpt. Also, maybe this girl's name should be something more cringe-worthy like Irene Buttmuench, or Xavier Faddasas, or Shirley Applebottom, or Flo Dueshwell.

  8. I, too, agree that this name isn't worthy of such angst. I think the line "I'm kind of happy with what I've got so why ask for more when I don't need it?" sucks the tension right out of paragraph one. I like her voice, though, and her comeback to Bridget. You could show the scene between the two girls more effectively with less description. Best of luck!

  9. I have to agree with the other comments. It seems like a lot of fuss over a name that's not all that funny. I do like the MC's voice though.

  10. Seems to move really slowly; suggest trimming the first few paragraphs down. And that name's not that bad. Maybe Pferrneffal or something like that or Bendover or Panties, something that's corny, but funny.
    Not hooked.

  11. What happened in your 250 word excerpt? A girl complained about getting teased about her name. It's not thrilling, exciting, mysterious, funny, scary, or thought provoking. There's no reason to read on.

    We don't even get to see the teasing. We hear about it second-hand, after the fact.

    You might consider starting the story with her in the middle of a situation, so something is happening, and sneak in what happens to her because of the teasing. Is she so depressed, she wants to slit her wrists? Is she so angry, she's planning revenge? Try to make the reader feel some kind of emotion. As is, it's not enough to pull me in.

  12. Hi, I just wanted to thank everyone for their input on this. I've been trying several ways to convey this information (so tricky to do in the first 250 words) and you've all really helped me to see where some weaknesses are. For the interested, Irene has issues with the name because she always feels she has to live up to it (by being "good") and she struggles with that and her fear that she's not - good, that is. Thank you all for your input.

  13. There's not a lot to pull in the reader here. I don't quite get the joke with the name - the last name I get, but there's an implication by the MC that her first name is part of the joke.

    The whole mean girls thing has already been done, so find a way to make it different. If you have something like that later on, considering pulling it up to the opening pages to hook the reader.

  14. I thought this read more like an MG to me. By 16, I'd expect someone to be over the being teased in school by mean girls angst. But I really loved your first two lines.

  15. This sort of a mean-girl encounter feels a little cliche to me, and isn't enough to capture my interest without knowing what else the story might be about.

    I also felt like there was too much build up to the Goode girl pun. I'm sure this type of thing would be annoying for the MC, but the example of how she's made fun isn't that bad or surprising, so I can't really sympathize with her.

  16. You have an engaging voice and I slipped right into this without pause. But I agree with Melinda. I feel like I've seen this set up a million times. Interestingly, my brother is in Buenos Aires as part of a teacher-exchange thing and the first thing they asked him was, "does every US school have a group of bitchy popular girls who are mean to everyone?"

    Find what makes your story different, and lead with that.

  17. It feels like it's a lot of complaining over a name that really isn't *that* bad. I actually found myself trying to figure out what "Irene Goode" stood for and then I realized it was the "Goode" part she gets made fun of for having. I'd start with something else that really grabs the reader.

  18. Must agree with some of the comments that she seems to be highly sensitive to her name still (I would rather like to see her angst over trying to live up to being "good" vs being teased over the name) but I really liked the voice and would keep reading for a bit.