Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #30

TITLE: Solomon the Wise
GENRE: middle grade fiction

The day I bit into a hamburger without first checking for onions I thought I’d puke. If I even think about that hamburger now, my taste buds burn and my stomach revolts.

My first day at Mt. Pleasant Middle School gave me that same kind of feeling – a feeling of dread that made me want to start the day, the weekend, maybe even my whole life over.

Everyone else had started school two weeks earlier, not on Friday, September 16, like me. Although I’d tried to talk my parents into letting me start school Monday, they insisted I start the day after we moved into our house in the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania.

As I stood before the large glass doors at the entrance to the school office, the urge to flee began to build. I overcame the urge, set my right hand on the cold, slimy handle, and pulled, wondering if everyone who’d entered before me sweated as badly as I did right then.

Positive attitude posters hung on the office walls. A red haired boy sat on a hard maroon chair outside a door labeled “Principal” and stuck his orange colored tongue out at me.

“Good morning,” said the secretary, a heavyset woman with black hair, too much eye shadow and a voice a person standing in the school yard would hear. “You must be Kyle Henderson.”

I looked into her green eyes and swallowed hard. Through the taste of onions I managed to say, “Yes."


  1. Not hooked yet. I do like the parallel between the feeling after eating onions and starting at the new school.

    However, this doesn't seem to be the best place to start the story. Put us in the action. What is Kyle's conflict? Where is this story headed?

  2. The hook was great. It pulled me right in. The voice was nice. It kept me reading.

    I'm a little too old for middle grade fiction, but I thought this was nice.

  3. The first sentence is confusing--it doesn't logically follow that just because he doesn't check first, that there are actually onions in the burger.

    Then the rest of it just isn't that intriguing. He's starting school a little late, he's nervous, that's it. That would be okay if I got a stronger sense of character, but I didn't, not really.

    You're a good writer; I would try to develop a stronger sense of character and plot here.

  4. I like this. I think the writin's great. Only things I'd change is making the handle not slimy, because handles aren't slimy, maybe his hand was sweaty on the cold handle.

    second, the secretary's voice "was loud enough to reach all the way out into the schoolyard" works better for me than the way you have it.

    nice job

  5. I liked the burger beginning and thought it was a great way to transition into his feeling about school. I think the conflict is clear that he doesn't want to go to school two weeks late, so think that's fine too.

  6. I thought there was too much lead in here. The whole opening prepares us for his walk into the principal's office, and entering the office isn't a big moment.

    Perhaps start with him already in the office, provided something is going to happen there. If not, start him closer to the moment when things go wrong. That gives us an idea of what the real problem is, and draws us in.

  7. I liked the referece from the burger to his current feeling, but I would have liked to see a hook/conflict somewhere to the end of this snippet.

  8. I agree there isn't enough of a hook. Just through reading this blog I've seen plenty of openings that begin with a kid starting at a new school. I think you need something unique to grab the reader's attention. I did like the opening, and the piece is well written.