Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #46

GENRE: MG Adventure

Ethan wanted to kill someone. The problem was the person he wanted to kill was already dead. But if he could kill him, lynching sounded like a good way to do it. According to Ally, that’s how the town wanted to do away with Winston Stanford III before people talked them out of it. Ethan wouldn’t have let anyone talk him out of bringing Winston to justice. Because that’s what it would be – justice, not murder.

Spotting the mangled wooden plank he’d pried out of Winston’s desk, Ethan pushed off the bare mattress in Winston’s abandoned bedroom and kicked the board across the room. The satisfying crack when it hit the wall didn’t make up for the secret it had hidden.

An earthquake didn’t trap them. Winston Stanford did. On purpose.

How could Ally and Gwen just sit there? But it was different for them. At least they’d been born on the surface. And they weren’t born on the day rubble buried them underground. Like Ethan was. Twelve years ago today. He was practically the town mascot.

“Read it again.”

“Ethan … ” Ally held her hand out and then let it drop back into her lap. “OK.”

Ally took a deep breath and focused on the leather book in her hand, one of four journals they’d found under a false bottom in Winston’s roll-top desk.

Gwen said they shouldn’t read Winston’s personal journals, but Ethan figured Winston lost his right to privacy when he was stupid enough to lead people down here without another exit.


  1. Hmm... not quite understanding what's going on. Winston trapped them in his underground room on purpose and then was executed for it? But then you mention that rubble buried them 12 yrs ago-- so is it just the kids that are buried, or the entire town? And is Winston a kid like them, or older?

    Loving the title, though :)

  2. Definitely hooked, but shortly confused. I think it sounds like you have a really interesting story here, but don't tell, show. I think it would be much more interesting to discover what Winston did to them!

  3. Love the title - but initially wondered if Caveboy means a boy that goes caving or a boy from caveman times, which doesn't follow from the first lines.

    It is a little confusing, the setting just isn't clear. I can figure out more if I re-read several times, but I think maybe you jump around quite a bit for 250 words so it isn't quite flowing.

    I'm interested, but I'd want to "get it" pretty quick to read much further. And I'd really want to see it smooth out cuz it does sound like fun!

  4. I'm definitely interested in what you've written, but some passages are more telling (particularly the fourth graph). I think that information can be shown in a more interesting way. I wonder if it's something we even need to know at this early point in the story.

  5. WOW!!! I love that opening line! Especially strong for a MG book, but I think your readers will be instantly hooked. FABULOUS TITLE, too.

    It feels like you are putting a lot of information into these first 250 words. Part of me wants the information to slow down, n' part of me wants MORE, MORE, MORE. Trust your creative judgement about whether this is too much or not.


  6. It feels as though you've started at the end of the story - but it is an exciting story! Maybe pull back a bit.

  7. I feel like I've been hit with a lot of information that I need to work out. So, confused, but I kind of like it. I'd definitely read on, but, as this is MG, I'm wondering if there's a little too much information.

    Love the title. Good luck - I think this could be great.

  8. I like the title and the voice, but I'm afraid I can't follow what's going on. Too many proper names without anything to anchor them to. It's hard because I really want to be hooked. But I'm not.

  9. I am intrigued and would keep reading, but like some of the PP, I'm a little lost. I wouldn't say confused, b/c I'm pretty sure what's going on here, just that there is an awful lot of information in just 250 words and its a bit overwhelming. Still, I would read on.

  10. This sounds like a really interesting premise for a book. I would agree with some of the above posts that maybe a little more clarity is needed. I think that the town is trapped underground, rather than just the children, but I'm not sure. Also, I'm wondering why it's more difficult for Ethan because he was born underground. I would think it would be more difficult for the children who knew what the world outside was like. That being said, this excerpt definitely got me interested in the characters and their situation. I would absolutely read on.

  11. I love the voice and the set-up. Even though this might be a little confusing for MG, I think a half-page of suspense is fine. I can grasp by context that Winston is probably a ghost. But his relationship to Ethan should be explained a little more in the next page or so.

    This sounds like a fun read -- and I love the title!

  12. I found this a bit confusing too. I was imagining Ethan on his own, then suddenly we have Ally and Gwen introduced, then there's some backstory about rubble burying them, which I didn't quite understand.

    I feel like this starts too late. We come in just as Ethan and co have made a big discovery, one that makes Ethan angry enough to murder. Why not actually show us Ethan, Ally and Gwen exploring Winston's house and coming across the diary, then you could end the first page with the big reveal.

  13. Good start; a bit confused about this mangled wooden plank - the board - why is he mad at the board? You do lead with a lot of mysteries here which I assume will be answered soon. . .

  14. I can't say I'm hooked, but I am curious and would read more.

    It seems they are buried underground, not because of an earthquake, which is what most people believe, but because WInston planned it that way, and now Ethan and Co., will have to figure out why and how and get everyone out, which will also enable WInston to move on and stop being a ghost?

    I thought you could perhaps get the setting in up front rather than near the end of the piece, just so we know where we are from the start, and who the players are. It did come as a surprise to find out there were others with him.

    You might also do more showing which will liven it up a bit. Maybe have someone respond when he kicks that board. If it cracks against the wall, one of the others would certainly notice and say or do something.

    It does look as if it can use some tweaking, but the mysteries you set up would keep me turning the pages.

  15. For me, the logic isn’t quite making sense right now. Why are these kids the ones going through Winston’s things, and 12 years after events transpired? Surely someone else would have found the journals by now, if there was any importance to them. The world building also feels a bit forced in around the actual action of the scene. I feel like the focus should be on what the kids are doing, and let the other information come more naturally.