Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #37

TITLE: The Silver Strand
GENRE: MG Fantasy, Adventure

Isabelle scrutinized her honey bangs in the mirror, wondering what evil deed in her twelve year history deserved the world's grandma-ish silver strand to sprout. Thick like a skewer, it resembled polished silver, yet weighed no more than any other hair.

"Shame you didn't grow a gold strand, grandma." She mimicked the high pitched old lady voice the seventh graders mocked her with. "Then you'd be rich."

One time in science class, magnets attracted the strand as if it really were made of metal. A chuckle escaped her lips. That really freaked out the kids at school. "Serves you right for calling me, grandma."
Isabelle twirled the strand around her finger. Over the last few days, a pink tarnish had formed on the hair's surface and it withered like a prune. It no longer gave her an electric shock when she touched it. She tugged at it, but the strand refused to budge. Several hairs pieces plucked loose, making her steel-grey eyes water. Flinching, she rubbed her stinging scalp. One day I'll be rid of you, she thought.
The ceiling fan blew stuffy, summer air around her bedroom and her cheeks grew pinker by the second. Sweat beads washed smudges of drawing charcoal from her tanned forehead. Using her burgundy school shirt, she wiped her face, praying for a breeze to drift through her window. No doubt when laundry time rolled round, she'd cop a lecture from her mother about clothing stains. That is, if her mom didn't feint at her pongy gym socks.


  1. Intriguing - but also need to make clear why she doesn't just cut the hair (I'm assuming she has tried).

    Omit the comma after Grandma, if what you mean is that the kids called her Grandma.

    And it's faint not feint! Unless she has a very odd mother, who pretends to fight with gym socks.

    And you've misused the word "deserve" in the first sentence - she's wondering what deed made her deserve having this hair, not what deed deserved it.

  2. I think you have a wonderful premise for a story here, and I would definitely keep reading to find out more about the silver strand of hair. It's an original idea, but you begin the story in a rather cliche way -- with a character noting her appearance in a mirror. Find a fresher way to begin, and I'm your reader to the end!

  3. I reread the first sentence - I can't put my finger on why I needed to, but I think "twelve year history" (which may because where I live they say year instead of grade) and " sprout".

    I don't mind her looking in the mirror - something being cliche doesn't mean it can never work. There's clearly something intriguing about this unpluckable hair. That said, I'm not driven to find out what. I think the end of this excerpt leaves you in too mundane a place, perhaps?

  4. I like the idea here about the metallic hair--grey.
    There's a myth we use to say in school and it was, "If you have a grey hair(at such a young age) You'll marry a millionaire"--Of course, now I say--you will become a millionaire.

    I'm interested to hear what the deal is with this buggy strand of hair. I'd keep reading.

  5. Well, the story is titled The Silver Strand, and a lot of this introduction concerns just that, and I can only assume that either the strand is magical or stands for some magic, but if it’s not hereditary, I think this would totally weird-out a kid. Where are her parents? Did they try to do something about it to help her? Did a BFF try to cut it off? Isabelle seems so alone here. Maybe if you had the strand be something, or do something beside turn from silver to pink and static to non-static it would help us understand some more.

  6. And, I'd read more to find out the answer to my questions.

  7. I agree that this is an interesting story with a great premise. The only problem I have, and I agree with M.G., that starting out with her in gazing in the mirror, and I've heard it is cliche as well. Perhaps you could drop us in the scene where a classmate calls her grandma. It could be interesting to see how Isabelle reacts, what her thoughts are etc. We could also be introduced to the odd grey hair through a scene of action, not the mirror.

    I would read on to see what magic this hair does or gets the character into : ) Good luck!

  8. This is an intriguing beginning, but it could use a little proof-reading - there are several errors, and this makes me think there may be more errors later in the MS.

    I think you need to make it clear that she's tried to get rid of the offending hair or it seems like she's kind of silly for not doing it. I love the idea of it being magnetic though. You could have so much fun with that!

  9. The first paragraph snatched my attention, and I'm hooked to keep reading. Being in front of the mirror works for me, as she's not doing the cliche thing of describing every physical feature about herself, but focusing on the mysterious hair strand... something I want to know more about it, especially if it's magnetic... that's pretty cool. Good luck.

  10. This opening has a strong characterization--I feel like I'm really in Isabelle's head. The entire 'silver strand' idea is very original and intriguing. There are a few typos, but I'd definitely continue reading!

  11. The first sentence is way too wordy. You'll have more impact by tightening that up. I also thought the line, 'it weighed no more than any other' just a bit odd. I know what you're getting at but maybe just sticking to the first description is enough.
    I thought it was cute though, funny. I loved the attracting metal bit in science. Made me laugh!
    Good luck!

  12. There are some minor errors that should have been corrected as mentioned above. Always give your best impression when posting. But that being said, it didn't spoil the enjoyment of this original storyline. Maybe you could give a tiny hint of where this strand will take us in the story. Something to tease us with. All good, though. I would enjoy a chance to read this story.

  13. The only part I didn't understand was "world's grandma-ish silver strands to sprout". Did you mean "the world's most grandma-ish silver strands"? That line still confuses me, even after multiple rereadings.

  14. This started off interetsing, but it didn't go anywhere. The last parg took us from the weird and strange to mundane. Do we need to know she's sweaty and that Mom does her laundry? How does that advance the story?

    What I'm interested in is that silver strand of hair. What problems does it cause (besides being teased about it) Where is the story going? It's labeled advventure. Give us a hint of the adventure.

    As is, there wasn't enough for me here. I wouldn't read more.

  15. I liked the idea but I have a few quibbles. Anonymous has already mentioned one. And yes, staring in the mirror is cliche. I do understand you're doing it as a way of bringing up the silver strand, but when you also mention her 'steel-grey' eyes it veers back into cliche territory.

    My main problem with this excerpt is that nothing happens. It's your character staring in a mirror. You bring up some intriguing ideas but I think this piece woudl be stronger if you started in the classroom. Then we can find out about the silver strand and the teasing through action, rather than telling.

    I would read on because I think this is interesting, but I don't think this is as good as it could be (errors like feint/faint don't help).

  16. I like the idea, but I sort of feel like too many descriptions are getting in the way of the story. It might get us into the story more (and into the action quicker) if you slimmed down some of the adjectives. The idea itself intrigues me, though!

  17. What I liked: The very quirky nature of this setup.

    What needed work: Ah, the old character-looks-at-herself-in-the-mirror opening. Yes, sometimes clichés can be overcome, or turned on their heads, but I definitely sighed upon reading this opening.

    I would have preferred to see something more active as an opening. Perhaps Isabelle at school being tormented, or something magical happening as a result of the strand. As is, I did not feel compelled to read on.

    Would I read on based on this sample? No.

  18. I love this part:

    "Over the last few days, a pink tarnish had formed on the hair's surface and it withered like a prune. It no longer gave her an electric shock when she touched it. She tugged at it, but the strand refused to budge."

    I would start with that scene as it happens instead of telling it as a back story.

    Intriguing beginning. I would definitely want to read more. Great job!