Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #23

GENRE: Middle Grade Adventure

Maximillian Drayson didn't quite like girls, but he figured Annika Britanika was different. She could climb a tree faster than he, beat him in a chess game, and make gadgets that actually worked. He couldn't think of a boy better than Annika for his best friend. Even still, being a girl, her moods changed quicker than the patterns in a spinning kaleidoscope.

Such as, on the day before last, Max had simply asked her whether her father might've forgotten it was her birthday. It wasn't Max's fault that the ship Doctor Britanika was supposed to arrive on did not have the doctor on it. Nor was it his fault that she had told their school mates that her father would be at her birthday. Both he and she knew it was the only reason why their entire class agreed to attend the party in the first place. Doctor Britanika was a popular man in Springfield. People would crowd him wherever he went to hear his stories from the places around the world he'd been. Unfortunately, Annika didn't have the same popularity with her peers, and neither did Max. Annika had refused to continue their chess game, and had huffed off, saying that her father never forgot important things. Max decided to put up with Annika's shifting temper because the two of them were more alike than different.

Today was Annika's birthday, and he hoped her mood was better.


  1. I love the voice in this, and the quirkiness. There are loads of good parts in here.

    However, much of this is confusing. And, much of what you say in this part could be saved for later. SHOW us what's going on with Max and Annika.

    I also don't get much of a sense of the conflict or where the story is going.

  2. I really like this. I think calling it a "Middle grade adventure" as the genre is a bit misleading. I'd call it a "Middle grade steampunk adventure" I'd also start off with the date (1816 or whatever) so that the reader has a idea that the book is not set in the present time. (And thus the formality that Max's voice has would make more sense.)

    I'd also split the second paragraph into two shorter paragrraphs (where it starts "Doctor Brittanica").

  3. I'm hooked. The opening sentence is strong, and the voice is great.
    The second paragraph is long though, which makes it hard to follow. If you end it after "neither was Max," the impact of that sentence is better emphasized.

    I'm not sure I like the sentence about the two of them being more alike than different- but I'd turn the page to learn more. Good luck with this. It's a great start!

  4. Although I like the MC's voice, there is a lot of telling. It would be so much better to show Anni's anger at the bad news. BTW, the title is genius.

  5. Love the opening, the kaleidescope, the friendship between max and anni is going to be great. hooked.

    this sentence confused me a lot: "It wasn't Max's fault that the ship Doctor Britanika was supposed to arrive on did not have the doctor on it." At first I thought it was a ship-doctor, then I thought they were on a ship called "Doctor Brittanica". I think it would help to rearrange so "ship" is not in front of "Doctor", such as: "it wasn't max's fault that Doctor Brittanica's ship had arrived without Doctor Brittanica."
    I'd read on, nice!

  6. It sounds like this is going to be a fun adventure. I already like the characters you've created and I haven't even really met them yet. ANd that, for me, was the problem here.

    All of this is told from a narrator's POV, so we don't see either Max or Annika (great name and title) in the flesh, so to speak. Perhaps put them on stage, rather than the narrator.

    And the second parg is all backstory. Again, perhaps put your characters on stage and let the scene play out with them in it and acting it out, rather than having a narrator tell us about it.

    WHen you mentioned gadgets, I thought it might be steampunk, but wasn't sure. If it is, you might add something that denotes the time period.

    I'd read more.

  7. Title is pure genius. Never underestimate the power of a great title, either, for getting immediate attention from agents and editors.

    Writing needs some smoothing out; too much telling not enough showing; but a strong premise overall and I like the voice.

  8. Another great title! I like the voice but with that title I can't help wondering why Max is narrating. I want to meet Annika! Also, what about starting at the party with some action instead of telling us what happened?

  9. Oops, I meant to say I wondered why we were seeing the story from Max's POV.

  10. It's all telling. Great concept and names, but show us the conversation between Max and Annika, or start later when it's her party and her peers are there and her father isn't.

  11. I love the title! And the characters' names.

    Maybe you could change the second paragraph and show Max asking Annika if her father forgot her birthday. That way, Annika is introduced right away too, instead of being told about. Just a thought.

    I would definitely read on. If you want a beta reader for this, I'm up for it.