Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #44

TITLE: Chauncey's Assignment
GENRE: MG fantasy

As the first rays of sunlight took over from the darkness of night, Chauncey moved out of the folds of the shadows towards the sleeping boy. His movement created small ripples in the air and he shifted his coloring to match the yellows and reds of the dawn. He slowed. Watching Tobiatoma, the other presence who held vigil by the bed, for any sign that he had been detected, Chauncey crept closer.

The boy twisted in the nightmare, fighting the bed sheets. Chauncey guessed he was being chased again. He knew that Tobiatoma had tried to reassure the boy but nothing had worked. I know he called because he thinks he's failed, thought Chauncey. If Tobiatoma failed, the boy could lose his imagination. Just as the boy needed to learn; so did Tobiatoma.

Chauncey watched Tobiatoma glance around the room. He knows someone is coming Chauncey realized. He waited. If he could not help without being discovered, then Tobiatoma would always be looking for someone to bail him out. He'd never gain the confidence he needed to help this child grow.

Chauncey forced himself to stay still. He hated inaction. His spikes bristled as he thought, I'm fourteen and too old for this. Swishing in frustration, his tail created a breeze that stirred in the room. He cursed silently. He knew better. He stilled the movement and watched Tobiatoma's bright eyes searching.


  1. Check the first sentence. You use 'of the' twice together. I would change it up a bit.

    I had a hard time really understanding what was going on here. It should be a litte more clear. From what I COULD understand, it is a likeable concept, but I need more context before jumping into a scene like this. Especially if it is MG.

  2. It's a very intriguing idea and there are flashes of interesting concepts. However, it doesn't really feel like MG to me. I know the MC is 14, but ... I don't know how to describe it. I could be totally wrong :-)

    I thought there were some confusing bits. maybe if you gave us a hint as to what they are instead of calling Tobiatoma "the other presence"?

  3. The first part reminds me of monsters ink. Chauncey sounds older than fourteen to me but I relly liked the idea of loosing your imagination! Very unique!

  4. Oh my, hooked, hooked, hooked! I love your idea & concept! Though I could be wrong, I think in the first paragraph "Chauncey crept closer." should be its own sentence (as is or with something at the beginning like "Satisfied, Chauncey crept closer), because something about the wordage of that sentence felt a bit off. But besides that I really really like what you have:)

  5. Oh, I also agree with the others though that this may be more YA than MG, it really does have more of a YA feel. Though, maybe it could be more like a crossover:)

  6. Interesting concept, losing your imagination. That alone would have me reading on for a bit more.

    Chancey's direct thoughts threw me off for a bit, because it seemed like a tense change. Either italicize his thoughts, or put them in a separate paragraph.

    The writing is unclear in a lot of places and clunky in others, so you might want to revise with that in mind. If I didn't read on, that would be the reason. I want to read and enjoy a story, not work hard to understand it.

  7. Before I rave about this, I have a few concerns.

    "Chauncey's Assignment"

    This title is dull and will evoke nothing from the imagination of a boy. Studies have shown that boys will pick up a book if 1) the title is "cool" and 2) it has a "wicked-awesome" cover. I would suggest having alternate titles, as this is uninspiring.

    "As the first rays of sunlight took over from the darkness of night, Chauncey moved out of the folds of the shadows towards the sleeping boy..."

    Beautiful, poetic opening. However, like the first poster said, the second line is choppy and you use "of the" twice.

    "...Watching Tobiatoma, the other presence who held vigil by the bed, for any sign that he had been detected, Chauncey crept closer..."

    Passive voice, and your use of "-ing" at the very start of that sentence disrupts the suspenseful tone.

    "Tobiatoma" is not a very ur...smooth name and I am certain MG'ers will gloss over it each time they see it. Perhaps one more...easy?

    I like that you are gradually unfold the scene with each sentence and paragraph--keeping the suspense as you go. As a self proclaimed fantasy master, who has seen it all, I found myself still confused as to what is going on and who these kids are. Nonetheless, I liked that you showed us his transportation or "Rift Walking" into the room, as opposed to telling; and I also liked that you showed us that they were not human by an action instead of an adjective, verb or the like. Well done!

    The pacing is slow and methodical, brooding with mystery; the hook (losing one's imagination) is superb; the MC is seemingly a powerful entity that watches over dreams--I dunno, but I like what is implied; and you have an easy, breezy, beautiful Cover Girl writing style.

    Put all that together and you have one very happy dude who is hooked, lined and centered!

  8. I agree with the others in that this is a unique idea (although I, too, thought of Monsters Inc.). I also agree with Tyson that Tobiatoma is a name to skim over; maybe you could use it initially and then use "Tobi?"

    You may have italicized the thoughts and had them lost in "translation" to the blog. If not, I would do so and lose as many of the tags "he thought" as possible.

    Cool concept and some good writing! Best wishes!

  9. I also think you have a great concept here, and if you tighten up the writing a bit, it could be really good. I liked your lyrical writing style, but I was a bit confused about exactly what was going on at times.

    I like the idea of italicizing Chauncey's thoughts and also about shortening Tobiatoma's name.

  10. I agree w/ Sarah Fisk. Vocab/voice/structure is more YA.

    Maybe sprinkle in a bit of dialogue?

    Very descriptive!


  11. I think this piece could be tightened. 'the other presence who held vigil by the bed' causes that sentence to be broken into four parts, which is too many. Can you find some other way to convey that Tobiatoma is standing/sitting by the bed?
    Also, I feel like you use 'Tobiatoma' too many times. Is there some other way you can refer to him sometimes to give us a break from his name?

    There's also a bit much telling in here for me, in the second and third paragraphs particularly. We end up with a lot of information to process and the central conflict - can Chauncey get to the boy without disturbing Tobiatoma - gets muddied. I'd concentrate on describing that for now, and the other information can come a bit later. There's a lot of really good stuff in here, the tail, changing colour etc., and I don't want it to get lost!

  12. Wow, this is interesting. Two creatures holding a vigil by a child's bed. I also like how we get a sense of Chauncey's unease. Nicely done.

    My main problem was that it was a bit too confusing. It took serious concentration for me not to lose the thread in the first paragraph. Perhaps you could mention Tobiatoma later, and in the first paragraph you could concentrate only on Chauncey and the boy. Just a thought.

    I'd love to read more.

  13. Good, original concept. I found it hard to follow and I'm not sure your middle grade audience would keep at it. With some work this could be a great story.

  14. The concept is certainly original, but the writing just isn't pulling me in here--it's clunky and the phrasing makes it difficult to understand/picture what's happening in the story. And despite the interesting concept, I'm afraid the technical issues with the writing would stop me from reading any further.