Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #15


He caught Bepper Brown jamming stolen strawberries into her mouth.

"Cheese and rice, dude, shine those dang lights somewhere else," Bepper said, squinting at him.

The lights on his head were made for exploring caves. The boy cut them off.

"Two nights you been over there," Bepper said. "How come you didn't bust me before now?"

"You mean you saw me?"

"Heard you! Figured you for a real weirdo or something."

The boy pointed at a house. "Me? You've practically stolen Ms. Gentry's entire strawberry crop."

"How much did the old woman pay you to bust me?"

"A dollar. What was that you said about cheese and rice?"


He was a quick talker, with one word climbing over the next. "You're sitting in a strawberry patch, stealing strawberries. What's cheese and rice got to do with that?"

Bepper Brown rolled her eyes. "Oh. Me and my pop got a deal on account of my cussing, which is, I don't do it and he don't swat me. Saying 'cheese and rice' is a lot easier on my big, fat, white butt than saying 'Jesus Christ'. Get it?" Bepper's messy, shoulder-length hair matched the dirt streaked across her face. "You sure you gotta rat me out?"

"I took Ms. Gentry's money."

"Old lady Gentry gonna kick your arse?"

"Isn't arse a--?"

"Cussing in another language is allowed..."


  1. Bepper Brown sounds like an interesting character. Nice job on the dialog. I would read more.

  2. I like this a lot, but I have one odd observation -- I first heard the phrase "cheese and rice" in the movie "The Break-Up" with Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Aniston. Now it's certainly possible you haven't seen the movie and had never heard the phrase either, but it's all I could think about reading the rest of the submission.

    I do love "with one word climbing over the next" to describe a fast talker.

    Overall, great dialogue though.

  3. I love this! I'd definitely keep reading and hope the rest was as good.

  4. I really like this! Great use of dialog to set up your story!

  5. I'm confused. Is "he" the boy or is there another boy in this picture? You've deliberately not told the reader who the MC is and I don't think it is doing anything other than creating confusion. Also, when you say "the boy cut them off" and then go on to give dialogue from Bepper, it made me think Bepper was the boy which made me even more confused at the end. But then I read it two more times and it made me think "them" referred to the lights instead. If this is what you meant, I'd suggest you say "turned them off" as "cut them off" can mean both.

    Other than this, the dialogue is well-written although it is difficult to follow who is speaking each line (probably because it is unclear how many people are in this scene).

  6. I respectfully disagree with Holly -- I think it's very clear the female Bepper is the MC, and she's talking to one boy, and "them" refers to the lights. Don't mess around too much -- it will disrupt your smooth narrative.

    (Unless, of course, Holly is right -- then I am confused).

  7. No, Bepper is MC and talking to one person. What's up with Jennifer and Vince? Some kid I grew up with said that all the time. Thanks for feedback. Now I'm going to read some of your stuff....

  8. Cute! It had sort of a female Tom Sawyer feel to it. I have to admit, I thought Bepper was a boy at first, too, but that's my mistake, as it is was made clear in the first sentence. Will this be a middle grade book?

  9. I thought 'He' was the MC and saw this pretty much as Holly did. I kept thinking Bepper was so much more interesting than 'he.' I think the confusion comes with starting with 'He' and referring to Bepper Brown as Bepper Brown. If you switched things, making Bepper Brown 'she' or just Bepper, it would be easier to see her as the MC.

    Perhaps start with Bepper without mentioning 'he?' She's stuffing stolen peppers in her mouth and the light shines in her eyes, then go on from there. It would make it clear that Bepper is the MC. And I did think 'cut them' was literally cutting them, rather than shutting the lights off, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was happening.

    Also, if she knows Mrs. Gentry, wouldn't she say the boy pointed to Mrs. Gentry's house, rather than 'a' house?

    Bepper is immediately interesting and the dialogue is great, but the writing style loses me.

  10. I'm not used to YA so I might be off base.

    The POV is underdeveloped (little interior monologue) I guess that will pick up later. Since it's underdeveloped for your fisrt 250 words, I had a hard time picking which character was POV. i.e 'He caught Bepper'(maybe boy POV) .... 'The lights on his head were made for exploring' . . . (boy POV). Then, it may shift to her with 'The boy pointed at a house.' Then 'He was a quick talker ... (by the way this quick talking thought came before he talked quickly and after he said Huh? So just shift it over to the end of 'you're sitting ...' If you want a break in time between Huh and the quick talking you might consider an em dash. Very minor points for an interesting beginning.

    I have to assume in YA these days POV floats (head hops), but if I'm wrong, then please develop the interior monologue more because your story is amusing and the dialogue is well done.

    One little point 'Arse' derives from Saxon/Old English but the kids don't know that probably.

    I think I'm hooked.

  11. I really loved the voice throughout. Dialogue was great and the description of "one word climbing over the next" is so apt for a fast talker.

    I did, however, have the same problem as the others with latching on to the MC. Based on the first sentence, I though the unnamed boy was the MC. I wonder if part of it might be because you don't get inside her head at all in this 250. I'm loathe to mess too much with your great narrative, but even just feeling a strawberry seed caught in her teeth or needing to squint in the face of those lights. Something that lets the reader know they're with her. And then, if we're firmly in her POV, not naming the boy becomes less of a big deal.

  12. The 250 is just so short and I tinkered with manuscript to get under the limit! I have already adjusted manuscript to reflect all of your POV concerns. And I'm better off for having put this out there for your sharp eyes to see. Thanks.

  13. I thought he was the MC too, not Bepper, so I was confused on "The boy" part too. Loved the voices, though, especially Bepper's.


  14. I think you have a clear strong voice in Bepper here. I didn't really find it confusing as some commenters did. Although occasionally I find when dialogue has no context that sometimes I have to go back and go Bepper, boy, Bepper, boy, etc. and that can be annoying. Especially considering it's only the first page since I'm still trying to undersatand the story.

    I think these characters seem colorful and interesting and I'd be curious to see where they're goign from here. I like that it seems like it's set at a time when a dollar meant more to kids than it does now, but you didn't necessarily say that in the first sentence.

    I do think that sometimes overuse of dialogue can be a problem, so make sure you watch that, but with only one page to go on, I can't really say. It's a bold start but I like it.

    I think this has a lot of potential.