Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#25 January Secret Agent

TITLE: It's Coming Down
GENRE: MG historical

My hand hovered over the latch, my stomach churning. What I did today, I'd never done before, and boy was I gonna get it!

Pa's work clothes lay in a pile outside the door. Yep, he was home all right. Inside was silent as if everyone were holding their breath, waiting for me to walk through the door.

"The longer he waits, the madder he'll get," Sarah said. My youngest sister looked up at me with earnest eyes. Lamplight spilled from the open window, casting her face in shadow.

"You worry too much, especially for an eight year old," I teased, trying to sound unconcerned.

She poked her bottom lip out. "Eight and a half, and I don't so worry too much. I worry the right amount, and now it'll be more 'cause you'll be in that horrible mine too, so there."

I frowned at her and she frowned back. Then taking a deep breath, I pushed open the door and stepped inside.

Ma and Alice stood frozen in the kitchen. Alice looked at me with a you-stepped-in-it-this-time look. Ma's eyes didn't meet mine.

Pa sat in the overstuffed chair. Someone who didn't know better might have mistook his pose as relaxed, but I knew better. Leaning back in his faded long underwear, an ankle resting on his knee, he clenched his coal-stained hands. One fist held a yellow piece of paper--the note I got from Mr. Graves today after I got a job at the mine.


  1. Good job. I like the voice and the part about the faded long johns:-)

    My only comment is that I would like more of a visual of the main character. How old is the MC? I assume it's a boy since he got a job in the mine. But my initial thought was a girl, because Ma and Pa make me thing of Little House on The Prairie.

    Yes, I would read more.

  2. I like this too, but I agree with LMT that I'd kinda want to know a bit more about the mc. Granted, 250words isn't much and I might get what I wanted to know about him by the 300th word, so I'm not suggesting you add in any bit. It was just what I was thinking as I read this. I like how the father hasn't even spoken, but we know he's the man in charge. Good job!

  3. I like the little sister's line, "I worry the right amount" and I love their exchange of frowns. - So real

    I wasn't in love with the first line. It felt a little too forced. I think I would edit it to read: "My hand hovered over the latch, my stomach churning. Boy was I gonna get it!" because soon enough we find out what he did and that's not the sort of thing someone would have done before.

    And great visual of the father clenching the yellow paper in his long johns! I'd keep reading!

  4. I love the final paragraph because it's filled with so much information. We get a lovely visual of the father, what he looks like and how he acts in certain situations. Also, we get to know the opening conflict, which made me want to read more. Great job!

  5. The best thing about this is the tension. I can feel it throughout. The clue you gave at the end: the letter about a job, provides just enough information without telling too much.

    I don't need so much to see the MC as to know more of her. I say her but I really don't know for sure.

    Oh, and I do like how you've created a setting without spending too many words.

  6. This is well-written. You do a good job of introducing the two characters and I like their short conversation.

    I wonder if there's a stronger way for you to begin the novel, though. Also, it should be eight-year-old, not eight year old.

    I'd read on for a bit longer to see what happens.

  7. I like this, particularly the voice. At first I thought the MC pulled a prank, but then it was something way more serious.

    If I was MG aged or not, I would totally read on! Characterization -- spot on. I think I can distinguish the MC, her sister, and her father pretty well.

    The descriptions weren't bad either. They were the right amount for a MG -- not too simple, yet not too advanced. I didn't catch any hackneyed phrases in here.

    I just learned about the mines (I'm guessing you mean coal mines?) and I know the gravity of such a situation and why a parent would be so concerned about their child getting a job in such conditions. With a story like that, not only will you be able to entertain kids, but also inform them of historical subjects. :)

    Good job!

  8. I'd read more. This is very well done, although in the next couple of paragraphs I'd like to be grounded in the time period. Also, it's still unclear if the protag is male or female.

  9. Overall, I like the voice and the writing. I guess I'm beginning to become a sucker for historicals as well, as I'd read on just to see how the mine angle develops.

    That said, I'd suggest cutting the first paragraph. And the second sentence from the next paragraph.

    I really like the sister's comments, especially "I worry the right amount."

    You also don't need "but I knew better" since you imply that with the beginning of the sentence.

    I'd read on.

  10. I didn't care for the opening. The middle got a bit better, and the last parg. is what drew me in. I'd read more.

    Perhaps work on the beginning and middle a bit more. ANd maybe give us a bit more of the MC. One of the sisters could call him by name. But if most of this is on a par with that last parg, then you're probably doing just fine.

  11. I liked this and agree with others that the writing is strong. I didn't like "What I did today, I'd never done before..." Something about the tenses really threw me. I'd read on.

  12. I loved this as-written! Good work!

  13. Very nice set-up for the opening scene.
    In the intro, I'd just start with:

    "My hand hovered over the latch, my stomach churning. Pa's work clothes lay in a pile outside the door." (This shows us he's home--we don't need to be told in the next sentence.)
    "The longer he waits, the madder he'll get," Sarah said. (She's let us know that Pa is inside, waiting)

    Your characters' actions are showing more than you probably realize, so telling isn't needed here.

    I like your writing style and this intro would definitely make me read on :)

  14. Hey, Secret Agent here! You certainly build suspense, but I’m not sure that walking through the door is the right thing to build suspense about here. We spend so much time building up this step across the threshold that I lose a bit of curiosity about what will come after. I’m much more interested, plot-wise, in the trouble this character is in, so get us there a bit quicker.

  15. Loved it. I'm totally hooked, but I think that I mentioned earlier that I'm a sucker for historical fiction. However, I was a bit lost in time, just couldn't get quite grounded. I was thinking Colonial times for some reason, then the overstuffed chair confused me. Maybe a quick line about the coal dust earlier. With that said, I'm invested in these characters and I want to know more. Best of luck.