Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #31


I pulled the dino-bot from under Venita's pillow and tucked the dead fish in its place. Then I wiped my fishy hands on her coverlet. There. That would teach her to steal stuff, especially from a little kid like Tole.

"Poppy Southway, Galactic Detective, foils the villain again," I announced to the empty dorm room.

I should have felt triumphant. Once more I'd defeated Venita, the school bully. But everyone else was downstairs enjoying Family Day at the Harledge Galactic Academy.

And I was alone. Again.

"Poppy?" a small voice called from outside.

Not quite alone.

I raced to the window. "Hush!" The last thing I needed was to be caught up here. I tried to shove the dino-bot into the front of my school uniform jacket. But ever since I turned twelve my clothes didn't fit right anymore. If I had one of those 'Grow With U' uniforms like the rich kids had, Fang the dino-bot would have plenty of room. As it was, I had to jam him in there so he wouldn't fall out when I leaped from the third floor window.

The bug shield tickled my skin as I swung my feet over the sill, but I ignored it to savor this moment before freefall. It was the closest I came nowadays to weightlessness. I probably should climb down the tensile trellis, just as I'd climbed up. Maybe they'd turned off the safety buffer for Family Day, maybe this time I'd be too heavy and break both legs, maybe...I leaped.


  1. Ooh, MG SF, don't see many of those. I like this, it's quite clear and easy to follow and it has a fun voice. I want to know why she doesn't have any family and I want to know if she'll land safely!

    I like the little touches of world-building like the dino-bot and the rich kids' special uniforms, but towards the end I feel like you're trying to cram in too many new details - bug shield, tensile trellis, safety buffer, weightlessness - you don't need to tell us everything at once about this world.

    I'd also like to know who it is calling to her outside - is it Tole? Plus 'Hush' leapt out at me as sounding old-fashioned or something an adult would say, I think "Shhh!" would be better. But overall I'd definitely read on, I want to know more about this world.

  2. Fun and engaging! I am already half in love with Poppy. I want to take her home and buy her a 'Grow With U' uniform! You totally had me up to the last paragraph.

    I agree with the previous poster that there were too many new details tossed in that made me feel like I was scrambling to keep up. The bug shield and safety buffer were great -- maybe save the tensile trellis and weightlessness for later? That last sentence would have more pop if you broke it up. "Maybe...Family Day. Maybe this time...legs. Maybe. I leaped."

    I also wanted to know at least if she recognized the voice calling to her from outside. I don't have to know who it is, but since we're in her head, I wanted to know if she knew.

  3. I'm not normally a fan of MG stuff, and often pass on commenting, but I do like this one. You've managed to make me care about the mc, plus I'm interested in the world you've created, so I'd read on. Good job!

  4. I think you a great concept with some of the details you've already put in. I do agree that there a few too many details about the world for one page. The first senteced forced me to re-read; "the dead fish" and a dino-bot in her hands had me wondering. Perhaps if you say "a dead fish" and describe where she's putting it, not just "its place." I have no idea what that means at this point.

    Also, you have fish and fishy really close, though I know you're going for stinky hands : ) And I'm not sure an MG reader knows what a coverlet is. Perhaps just blanket or something. I would certainly read on. Good luck!

  5. Already cheering for a MC who will take on a bully! I'd definitely keep reading. You have some rich, imaginative details, and have created a world that we already understand has a class system and some kind of institution called Family Day. I didn't feel lost in the details yet, but might if you keep adding them at the same pace. Bravo on a great start!

  6. I like it. I think it works. I particularly liked the details of the bug shield and Fang the dino-bot. I get a good sense of voice and emotion. Great job!

  7. I'm hooked!

    I didn't have a problem with the last paragraph. There were enough familiar words to keep the concepts clear in my mind.

    Nicely done!

  8. Wow. I read this with wide-opened eyes, wondering what in the world was going to happen next -- would Poppy float or kill himself? I'd read on just to find out what happened to him. It's not so much that I like the character -- the dead fish retaliation makes him seem like a bully, rather like the one he's trying to make feel bad for being a bully. Love the believeable world you created with details like the Grow with U uniform and bug screen. I see a lot of potential.

  9. What a fun start! I thought it worked pretty well as is, but I do agree that there may be too many gadgets in that last parg.

    And the 'should have felt triumphant' line didn't work for me because it certainly seemed she felt triumphant in the previous sentence. Maybe say something about the triumph not being as good as it could have been?

    I'd read more.

  10. This is awesome! Love the Grow With U uniforms, the setting, and most of all, the character. Love how she's out to get the bully, yet still feels vulnerable and alone. She's very sympathetic, and I'd definitely read on!

  11. It was a really fun opening! And I think the prank was neat. Good balance of mischief and payback. Nice job!

  12. This is one of my favorites! I love the way you've begun subtly world-building in this first page. My favorite detail was the Grow with U uniform. LOL! Very cool opening.

    If I were to be nitpicky, I might change the word in the second line to something other than "fishy" since she just hid the fish. It seems too obvious a description. Maybe "slimy" instead?

    Also, I thought the last line needed a little work, but it might just be as simple as separating "I jumped" into it's own paragraph.

    Loved this! Best of luck.


  13. What I liked: The subtle world building, the amount of details that come across in a short amount of time, the target market.

    What needed work: Wondered why the details about who called to Poppy were obscured. Although I like the world building that comes across, I worried there were a few too many strange devices, gadgets, or concepts that go unexplained. Perhaps spend a little more time filling in the details that make this sci-fi world tick.

    Would I read on based on this sample? Yes.

  14. I liked this and would read on. Like some of the others, I thought there were a few too many details in the last paragraph. I agree with Richelle about which to keep as well. Two other things struck me as disrupting the flow a little. You start the second sentence with 'Then', which is weak. I know this because I overuse 'then' in my own work and so it sticks out at me when others do it. Also, 'school uniform jacket' seemed a bit laboured. Just 'school jacket' would have the same message. But really, when you're getting to this level of advice (a few words here and there) you know the sample must be good.