Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#22 January Secret Agent

TITLE: Lenny of Nowhere
GENRE: Middle Grade

Lenny Weedon logged in to his preferred world. His Blood Battle avatar, Inviso, was a muscular, decisive hero who had lost dozens of lives saving the planet Earth from humanivorous aliens.

In the next bedroom, Lenny's parents slept. His neighborhood made no noise. Even the dogs were asleep.

Play time.

Just one other player was on - Kronos. Lenny wondered about him. He was always in the game - even now, when it was past midnight. Where were his parents? Lenny would never ask. They didn't talk about things like parents.

Kronos: hey

Inviso: hey

Kronos: wanna go X67

Inviso: k

He charged his flamethrower and selected X67 - an abandoned school. It would take a moment for the level to load.

Kronos was probably Lenny's best friend, he thought. At least, he talked to Kronos more than any other boy his age. And he never talked to girls, unless he couldn't get out of it, at school. Then he stuck to nods and grunts. It wasn't that he didn't like girls. He did. He really did. It was just that he was more comfortable dealing with flesh-eating aliens.

"Hey, beautiful," he winked at his own reflection in the wardrobe mirror. Yeah, that would really work. Better stick to the people-eaters.

He looked at himself. Longish, light hair curled around his collar. He hated it. But at least it covered his ears. His nose, unfortunately, was harder to hide.


  1. In the first line, I think you meant "into" not "in to".

    The writing is good but this doesn't hook me. Maybe you could start with him fighting the people-eaters and showing how exciting this other world is and then comparing it to his real world.

  2. I agree with Adrienne. Also, I wouldn't recommend opening with the character looking at himself in the mirror in order for the reader to find out how he looks--it's a cliche I've seen mentioned over and over again. Find a more creative way to work it in, like comparing his avatar to himself.

  3. I like the writing and "Lenny Weedon" is a great name for an MG main character. But by the end there's no suspense or action. Something to grab me.

    I would read another page or so to see where it is going.

  4. I like the set-up and as a former middle school teacher the MC feels very real to me.

    It's so believable that there would be one person that just always seems to be playing - and spooky.

    I would tighten the paragraph about him being more comfortable talking to aliens than people (does it make a difference if they are his own age?), and I would ditch the part with the mirror. Mai's idea of comparing the avatar to himself is a good alternative, though, personally, I never miss having the MC physical description if it's not there.

  5. Others have pointed out how looking in a mirror is a cliche, so I'll just add one thing - the word 'humanivorous' threw me at the start, just sounds clunky and not very MG, I think carnivorous or flesh-eating would do fine.

    Overall it's a little slow to start but I don't think it matters, as I think MG boys would instantly relate to a kid playing video games.

  6. I really felt your MC come alive in these short words. And i liked the intro of the only real fried he hasn't met.... who he's assuming is male... The flow works great but there isn't a lot of urgency about it. not sure why it's started here an now.

  7. Lenny is a person quite a few kids will relate to. The premise has potential. The intrigue for me mainly has to do with who Kronos is and how he is going to get Lenny into trouble.

    Yeah, don't let him look at himself. :)

  8. He could push his long hair out of his eyes, but not necessarily look at himself.
    I liked it. I feel for the poor kid whose only friend is an online guy. I too wonder how these two are going to get into trouble. I'd read on.

  9. I like the title--especially as it relates to Lenny's online 'second life.'

    I also like the premise of this, as many people (young and old) get addicted to the lure of an alter ego in a computer game. I'd be curious to know what the set-up of the story is, so I'd read on.

    (I agree with ditching the cliche of the MC looking at himself in the mirror, too.)

  10. Ooohh...I'm mixed with this one. Middle Grade, eh? Okay, well I think you captured MG voice pretty well. Here we have awkward preteen, I think a lot of kids can relate to that but it's been awfully overdone. He's addicted to video games, that's unique. Don't think I've heard of that before.

    Unfortunately, just from this, I have a feeling of where this is going. Now, correct me if I'm wrong. You can say an infinite amount of "I told you so's", but if my suspicious are correct, Lenny will go inside the video game. He will meet buddy Kronos. Together, they will defeat evil. Then come back to real life, stronger and less geeker than once were. Lenny gets the girl. Happy ending. Am I right? Is that the plot, have I figured it out so soon already?

    Regarding the writing, I think it's age appropriate for MG. Some sentences you don't need like, "Lenny wondered about him". I don't like characters describing the way they look in a mirror, I'd prefer for this to be shown throughout the story.

    I don't know Lenny that well, but the "Hey, beautiful" line just felt really REALLY painfully awkward to me. And I don't mean awkward wording or sentence structure, just more of a uh...awkward silence.

    If I were MG aged, I think I would read on. If I saw this at my age, I probably would not. Just because I have a feeling I know the story already. :(

    Good luck!

  11. Mayaah, I have to respond to your comment because (haha) I had a different idea of where this was going.

    I was wondering if Kronos was really a girl (with the MC thinking that he was a guy all along) and that, somehow, Lenny finds someone 'in real life' just as geeky and computer-nerd-cool as he to like at the end of the story.

    Now I'm curious as to the plot..!

  12. Lots of short bits:

    1. As already stated, Lenny Weedon is a great name.

    2. I was thinking the plot would be more as Cat said rather than Mayaah. That would make more sense, especially with the focus on his relationship to girls there at the end.

    3. I understand including humanivorous for humor reasons, but it didn't work for me. For one thing, does that mean they only eat humans? If so, what did they eat before attacking Earth?

    4. Neighborhoods don't generally make noise. I would turn it around so that the neighborhood isn't put in the active role.

    5. If this is a MMORPG then there is little to no chance that there would only be one other person on-line. People are hooked into the net from all over the world, so the fact that it's midnight has little bearing on how many people would be on-line. Strangely, this unrealistic detail bothers me most of all, especially since it seems that gaming will be a big part of this book.

    I'm not hooked, but I'd probably read a few more pages to see what the main conflict is going to be, and whether or not that will be what draws me in.

  13. I wasn't hooked because there is no hook. There's no tension or suspense.

    I thought you did a great job with Lenny. He came across as very real me to, the video game and the converstaion with kronos came off as real. It wasn't until he stated thinking of girls and checking himself out in the mirror that I lost interest. It all just seemed so overdone. And in the end, you didn't leave me anything to wonder about. There's no - what'll happen next.

    But even though I'm not hooked, I still think you have something here. You have Lenny nailed. You have the mid grade voice nailed. Perhaps the issue is that this just isn't the place to start. I was taught to start the story just before things go wrong. Perhaps give that a try?

  14. I liked this - the voice, the mystery of who Kronos is. The last two paragraphs lost me, and I agree with others who have advised you to ditch the mirror.

  15. Hah, since people are guessing at plot, I have to say I thought something completely different - that Lenny thinks Kronos is his friend but he turns out to be someone evil :) Anyway since we're all guessing different things I think it's safe to say the question of who Kronos is is not predictable :)

  16. Hey, Secret Agent here! I’m puzzled by the zoom-out description of the parents, the neighborhood…we get bird’s eye for a second then we’re right back in with a close-up. There’s some telling here, ie: “It wasn’t that he didn’t like girls.” A way to show that instead of explain it? The character description feels forced here, it doesn’t come organically from what’s going on. Overall, though, I have a good idea of what’s going on.

  17. I agree, I was looking for a hook here, but I love the character. He's quirky, yet likable. I agree with the description scene, the whole mirror thing is overused. I am wondering about Kronos and Lenny though. I'd almost prefer meeting Lenny out in the world, then having him retreat to the safety of his room later, and Kronos. The juxtaposition might really work. Best of luck!