Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #44

TITLE: The Gallery of Important Things
GENRE: MG fantasy/adventure

When I was seven I built a machine to measure trouble. I made it out of a pirate ship’s barometer and a World War One field radio and set it up in my closet, where it crackled and spit like a grouchy bandicoot. It had a thin red needle that was supposed to jump when trouble got too close so I’d have time to take cover.

It didn’t work of course, but it would have been useful.

Don’t get me wrong, I know how lucky I am. Being born a Guardian of the Gallery of Important Things is like winning the lottery of life. My ancestors have been searching out important things and hiding them away for thousands of years and I have access to all of it: hundreds of rooms full of toys, armor, treasure, animals, mummies, books, and anything else you could possibly think of. All I have to do is step into my pantry, open the secret elevator, and take a quick ride down.

It’s amazing, but it comes at a price.

For one thing, I don’t officially exist. My twin sister Hillary and I don’t go to school, my passport’s fake, and even my birth certificate is a forgery. Parts of it are true: I was born in July eleven years ago and my name is Jonas X. Glick, but I’ve never been to the state listed in the Place of Birth column, and I’ll probably never go.


  1. Great middle grade voice. Your premise is new. My only concern is that nothing is happening and it feels a bit like an info dump. That wouldn't stop me from reading. I'm hooked.

  2. Love it! I agree with Janice about the info dump, but I think it might be necessary and helps build a connection to the character.

    Would love to read more!

  3. I loved the first two paragraphs, but they seemed inconsistent with the rest because why would he make a trouble machine if he already had all these treasures?

    The idea of a kid desperate to measure trouble fascinates me. What was the motivation? What kinds of trouble does he/she expect or fear? Why would it have been useful?

    It just seems like a different story from the Guardian of the Gallery, which by itself could be interesting if there was a story associated with it. Maybe if you explain MC built the trouble machine before he/she realized he/she was a Guardian?

    Wonderful writing, just a little confusing so far.

  4. Need action and showing instead of telling. Needs some editing to be more clear.

    Keep at it though...could be great

  5. I like the first line because it's short and draws my attention.

    The third paragraph kinda falls apart for me though. I've read a lot of first pages where the MC is suddenly explaining their entire situation to me, so maybe try to spread this out a bit rather than just BOOM, here's the background.

    I like your style and the ideas though. Just too much info, not enough happening, at least not for MG, IMO.

    Keep at it and good luck!

  6. Love the concept and love a lot about this one. I agree that there's a bit of a disconnect between the trouble machine and then the paranormal element. The first one seems like something a normal kid would do in a contemporary store.

    I adore the idea that he's a Guardian of the Gallery of Important Things. But then the description of what that entails seems sort of mundane and not as creative or exciting as the title itself.

    Like the last paragraph a lot.

  7. P.S. A typo: "contemporary story" not "contemporary store"

  8. hooked. i like this story and i want to know specifically WHAT things are in the gallery.

  9. Love the first line and the last paragraph. Think you could make the middle para a little more specific and sparkly.

    But basically, I think it's great, I'm absolutely hooked.

  10. Do kids know what a bandicoot is? I had to look it up. Other than that, the voice is great and I loved the machine.

  11. I know what a bandicoot is, and did when I was a kid, but I'm Australian and they're an Australian animal so the reference might not work for a wider audience. I think you're safe to leave it in for now though, it's not going to make an agent reject you.

    Anyway, I love your first paragraph. I thought it was perfect. But I agree with Cheyenne that the third one falls apart. It's too much telling and I think you'd be better off using it to show Jonas stepping into the pantry and catching the elevator to the gallery and revealing the other information more slowly.