Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #42

TITLE: Matchbox Dragon
GENRE: Upper Middle Grade Fantasy

Leda lay on her bed in a puddle of moonlight, holding a small, tattered matchbox. She’d found it two years ago on the front lawn, near the birdbath she could see from her bedroom window.
She slid the box open a crack and touched the four-leaf clover inside. She’d spotted it last year in the same place, on this same night, the third Thursday in June--the night the man always came, and her mom met him outside and sent him away.

How many years had he been coming? Leda closed the matchbox. She couldn’t be sure but she suspected it was thirteen years, ever since she was born. And more than that, she could feel the truth deep inside her, a lingering ache that never went away. He was the one man her mom never talked about. The one man Leda longed to know--her father.

The rumble of an approaching truck drifted in through her open window. The click, click of Mom’s high heels raced down the sidewalk toward the street. Headlight beams fanned bright streaks across her bedroom walls. He was here!

Leda bounced out of bed. She tucked the matchbox into the pocket of her sweatpants.

She dashed across her bedroom, her stomach wriggling like a thousand fireflies were flashing and fluttering around inside it. Her toe caught on the edge of her rug. Yikes! If she tripped and twisted an ankle, she’d never get down the stairs and out to where she could eavesdrop.


  1. I like the tension and curiosity you've set up...but am wondering if your first sentence is as good as it could be. For me, mentioning the man first, then the 4-leaf clover, would work better.
    Something like: "It was the third Thursday in June, the night the man always came and Mom always sent him away."
    That's your opening hook - not the box w/ the clover in it. IMO.
    I would read on! :)

  2. i really like the details you use--very visual. nice job.

  3. I agree with Melodie about the first line, although since she found both things in the same place, it does make me wonder if her father somehow left them there for her.

    While the details are well-written, some of them seem unnecessary, like the exact location of the matchbox on the lawn. I do like the contrast of the rumbling truck against her mom's high heels.

    Something is a little off in the last paragraph for me. I think it's the word "wriggling." I'd rephrase that first sentence to remove it. The the last sentence seems too much like telling.

    I think you have a good start here that could be tightened a bit (as with us all!). Good luck!

  4. You've got a compelling start here, but I agree with those above who say that the more interesting thing is the man, not the clover and matchbox.

    Aside from some tightening, I like the style, except that to me, the first paragraph makes Leda seem younger than 13 years.

    I'd read on!

  5. I'd read on. She seems younger than thirteen - think it might be the 'Yikes!' but I'm interested.

    Love the title.

  6. I agree with pp-ers about the opening line. But I'm intrigued. I'd keep reading.

  7. I like this. Do agree about rearranging the beginning and take out the Yikes and the last sentence. we can figure that that she wouldn't want to trip, we just need to know that she's planning on eavesdropping (I'd have figured her for walking out and introducing herself personally!)

    Would definitely read on,

  8. I liked it and would reading on. I think it could be tightened, like the paragraph where you are introducing her age. I must be odd person out b/c I like the opening the way it is. Since this is a fantasy, opening with a four leaf clover in a matchbox feels more mystical to me than starting with her father. It makes him seem mystical. Nice job.

  9. I thought you set up a nice little mystery in this opening (actually a few mysteries) and they're enough to keep me reading.

    I thought you could spend a bit more time on the matchbox and clover. Maybe have her wonder about them for a bit - why were they found in the same spot on the same day, are they connected, etc, that way some importance and mystery is being attached to them.
    Then she hears the car which brings her around to thinking about the man.

    I'm not sure about the almost fall at the end, since she doesn't trip. Perhaps just have her sneak down stairs without it.

    I'd read more.

  10. She does seem a little young for 13. If you want to keep in about the matchbox and the clover, like Barbara said, spend more time of them. Otherwise, it seems rushed and unimportant.

    I would keep reading.

  11. I liked the idea of Leda's father coming and her mother sending him away, but the matchbox seems like a distraction.

  12. I do not envy that girl when she gets to high school and finds out her name’s origins. ;) I do like the sense of mystery you’ve set up, but at the same time, the narrative is coming off a bit flat and straight forward, not always with purpose. For instance, the last few lines; are they necessary? Does she have to catch her toe on the rug in order to not trip? And why didn’t she go out sooner, find a good place to hide if she knew which spot they would talk in? The logic doesn’t quite add up for me.