Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #37

TITLE: Fairy Finders

Lily yanked Skylar behind their favorite oak tree on the playground. The two girls kneeled behind the gnarled old trunk, knees touching.

Lily leaned in toward her best friend, “I found fairy pictures in my mom’s closet yesterday,” she whispered.

Skylar nodded and twisted the hem of her skirt.

Lily grabbed her by the shoulders. “Not drawings, real pictures.”

Skylar gasped.

“The last section is taped shut and it says ‘beware,’” Lily said in a spooky voice.

“What was in it?” Skylar asked, breathless.

“I was hiding under the clothes with a flashlight. That’s not a good place for reading secret pages.”

Skylar eased back and sighed.

“I was alone,” Lily repeated, “but I snuck a picture to show you.” She pulled out a grainy black and white photo from her back pocket.

Skylar snatched it away and smoothed it across her lap. “Wow. The wings look like spiderwebs,” Skylar said, tracing the shape of the wispy wings.

“I know,” Lily squealed. “Some look like dragonfly wings and some have feathers like birds.” She pulled another piece of paper from her pocket.

This time Skylar squealed. “You brought me one, too!”

“Rose made you a copy.”

Skylar touched one of the web-like wings, accidentally smudging the tip. Even the tiny nose and lips were drawn perfectly. “Wish I could draw like this.”

Lily nodded. Rose was Lily’s four year old sister who drew better than an art teacher. Both girls kept a notebook of Rose’s fairy drawings.


  1. This makes me think of that fairy hoax at the turn of the century, which took in Thomas Edison, among others. (I think it was Edison...?)
    My only comment is to watch your dialogue tags. "I know," Lily squealed. How do you say I know and squeal at the same time? Generally 'said' is the best to use.
    Good luck!

  2. i like the way your dialogue flows--interesting storyline here.

  3. Cute storyline- but definately watch the tags. They pulled me out of the first part (especially squealed- once is more than enough but you can get across their excitement without both squealing ;)). But the bit about a four year who can draw so well (is it only fairies she draws so well?) was interesting!

    Nice work!

  4. I think your dialogue is a little choppy. It seems like some of your paragraphs (eg. the third paragraph) are just there so that the other character is doing something/reacting to what the other has said. They don't tell us anything, so I'd suggest getting rid of them. "Lily grabbed her by the shoulders", for example, is important: it tells us a little bit about Lily's personality. "Skylar eased back and sighed" doesn't tell us anything (and actually doesn't make that much sense as a response to what Lily just said). Until the paragraph that begins "Skylar snatched it away and smoothed it across her lap", you have a lot of stuff that I think doesn't serve too much of a purpose. I would suggest looking over that section with a critical eye and taking out anything that doesn't tell us anything about the plot or the characters.

    I was thrown off a bit by the fact that a four-year-old could draw better than an art teacher. That seems very unrealistic for a child at an age where, due to a lack of motor control, they can barely write (or try to write) legibly--especially since an art teacher's skill would take years and years and years to master, whereas Rose has had at the most four, if she were born with a pencil in her hand. Unless her ability is explained magically, I think it is too unbelievable to keep in.

    Quick grammar/punctuation/etc. stuff: In the second paragraph, there should be a comma instead of a period after "Lily leaned in toward her best friend". In the last paragraph, "Lily's four year old sister" needs some hyphens: "Lily's four-year-old sister".

    This sounds like a good idea, and definitely something I would've read when I was younger!

  5. Love where this is starting, but the way it's executed makes me leery. People have mentioned the tags already - ax them wherever possible.

    You mentioned a playground. This might be regional, but in my county (actually, I think it's my state) kids stop having recess/playgrounds in 5th grade (10 years old). Having them younger than that scares me a little, even if it is "early" MG - but they don't feel that young. Just wondering how old they really are.

    Anyway, that's not my only worry. At the beginning we don't know your characters at all, of course, but after a page, I should at least have SOME visual of the girls. Skylar, at least (I say Skylar because it looks like it's going to be in Lily's POV). Sentences like "Skylar eased back and sighed" are a great opportunity to inject personality and image. Anyone can ease back and sigh. How does Skylar do it?

    You have a great premise, but I want more character.

    Just my opinion, of course. Best of luck!

  6. The idea sounds interesting, but I'm not really hooked. I don't feel connected to the characters. The dialogue does say things about Lily's personality, but I'm not grounded in the characters or the environment.

  7. The mood of this definitely feels like early MG and I'm intrigued about the pictures and the young girl who can draw so well. As others have mentioned, the repetitive dialogue tags are distracting, and be mindful of info dumps in the exchange between Lily and Skylar.

    Keep working, the descriptive details about the wings in the drawings are excellent.

  8. I think, perhaps,this needs another revision or two. The dialogue tags have already been mentioned, and both girls could use a bit more characterization.

    The dialogue seems random and unconnected. Lily finds pictures and then says the last section was taped up. The last section of what is taped up?

    Then skylar asks what's in it. (What's in what?) and Lily replies she was hiding under the clothes with a flashlight. What does that have to do with what Skylar just asked? WHy doesn't she answer Skylar's question? It all makes the conversation hard to follow or make sense of.

    Maybe give this another look.

  9. This seems very sweet, and I'd read on. My only problem, like everyone has said above, is the choppy dialogue.

  10. The dialogue and tags have already been mentioned. You also don't have to use their names so much. As long as it's clear which girl you mean, it's fine to use she.

    I would focus more on the taped section and the mystery of that and when they might be able to learn/read about its page.

    This seems very interesting but the execution makes me a little reluctant to want to read on.

  11. Your direct competition is The Spiderwick Chronicles, and I’m afraid this comes up short. For me, it’s too much like a list of facts; a sense of narrative voice isn’t coming through yet, and that is vital. There is something to be said for straight forward writing, but you need to allow yourself to get lost in the story of it as well.