Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #7


In the history of school lunches, no one had ever paid this much attention to a side salad. Inky Kahn swatted a straggle of his long hair away from his face, scrunched up his storm gray eyes and tried to conjure the exact green of the lettuce in Amanda’s salad. He concentrated as if everything depended on it.

He wanted his drawing of her to be perfect, and focusing on color helped. He was rusty. Realism, all those cartoons for the school newspaper, that was before.

Last year he filled his notebooks with abstracts, a mad rush of color, emotion running like muck. Rivers of guilt traversing the page.

There were definitely peas in her salad. He remembered how Amanda balanced one on her fork while she laughed (she laughed!) at his story about his nickname. And asparagus? Are there even asparagus in October?

The top of his chest throbbed as if his heart was pushed up, displaced by grief, his insides swollen from the burden he carried.

He wanted to impress the game developer; this was his shot, and if this worked, maybe it wouldn’t matter that he wasn’t going to art school. He was good enough. Why not?

There were things that actually mattered in the world, Inky knew, and just in case he forgot, his school, Manhattan’s prestigious Metropolitan Diplomatic Academy served up heapings of world tragedy and disasters as part of the curriculum. But at this moment, the world, his world, depended on him drawing Amanda.


  1. I'm hooked. I like the voice and the sense of urgency to get the drawing right. I like the nickname, too.

  2. I like this. You have some nice descriptions without going overboard. Ordinarily, I'd complain that nothing happens here, he sits and thinks about salad, but it feels more active than that. And you have some nice lines. I especially liked "He remembered how Amanda balanced one on her fork while she laughed (she laughed!) at his story about his nickname." That parenthetical "she laughed!" speaks volumes about his feelings for her in just a couple of words. That's excellent work.

    I'm not entirely sure what drawing a picture has to do with impressing game developers. Isn't computer game design more computer-y? Or is he using the computer for this drawing? If I'm just showing my ignorance, go ahead and ignore me.

    Overall, hooked and I'd read on.

    Good luck.

  3. Haha! Good stuff! Although, maybe change up the sentence "He wanted to impress the game developer" since it sort of sounds like you're talking about a different person than Amanda. Other than that, it's cute.

  4. Also loved it. I'd also normally complan that nothing much is happening, but you do such a great job of creating his character (and brilliant name) that I'm definitely hooked.

  5. I liked this also and thought there was a lot going on. He's crushing on Amanda, he's trying to get his painting right, and trying to figure out how to impress the game developer. Three nice problems.

    I thought you could cut the last sentence in Parg 1, because it's not 'as if' everything depended on it. Everything 'did' depend on it (in his mind, at least)

    Realism,, all those cartoons . . . that had been before. - This was confusing because cartoons aren't realism, and if you mean cartoons 'and' realism were before, well, what is he calling what he's doing now? (sounds like realism to me.)

    Also, it seemed weird that a teenage boy would know the growing season for asparagus (but maybe he comes from a farm community?)

    In the second last parg, I was confused by 'he was good enough.' Good enough to get into art school? Or good enough to impress the game developer?

    And the last parg seems to be there just so you can get the name of his school in. You might cut it.

    Inky himself is an interesting character with interesting problems, and while I think this needs some tweaking here and there, I'd read more.

  6. I really liked this. His thoughts seem to ounce around a bit, but completely appropriately. From what he used to draw, to the peas in the salad, to his grief, to his goal. One thing that struck me as odd was the MC questioning when asparagus grows. It just didn't seem the sort of thing a teenaged boy would wonder about.

    Otherwise, totally hooked!

  7. don't think a boy would worry about salad, but some great description. may we have some action, please?

  8. Hooked. Love the voice. Asparagus line made me lol.

  9. I really liked the asparagus line, and if he goes to a fancy Manhattan academy, then I'd believe that his family shops at the greenmarket or has a CSA and talks about growing seasons at the dinner table. =)

    The "realism...cartoons" line also gave me pause for the reason that Barbara mentions. But the real thing that gave me pause was that I imagined through the first five paragraphs that he was concentrating so hard on getting this picture right because of his feelings for Amanda--either that the picture was for her, or that he wanted to capture her perfectly for himself. When I found out that what he really wanted to do was impress a game developer, I felt slightly cheated.

    Still, I like the voice and the character and would keep reading.

  10. Nice voice.

    I think the first paragraph would flow better if you switched the first two sentences and dropped the third: Inky Kahn swatted a straggle of his long hair away from his face, scrunched up his storm gray eyes and tried to conjure the exact green of the lettuce on Amanda’s tray. In the history of school lunches, no one had ever paid this much attention to a side salad.

    I'd like to know a little more about the game developer right away, and why it's so crucial that he get this drawing right.

    So far, this is one of my favorite entries.

    Oops, I didn't say it. Hooked.

  11. Hooked, but you may want to do some research on the game design profession-- I'm involved, and a high school painting isn't going to do the trick, haha. Maybe he's a beta-tester? Still, I like this.

  12. It’s not bad, and I love the narrow focus that gives us a chance to get into Inky’s mind. However, things felt a bit too scattered and I didn’t quite catch what was going on. Is Amanda “the game developer” or is that a completely different thing? If it isn’t Amanda, then why is drawing her at the cafeteria particularly important to the game developer he seems to want to work with? Is he trying to do an abstract drawing of her, focusing on the color, or is he trying to get back to the realism he used to do? I like the emotion behind the writing, but I didn’t feel the lack of clarity was purposeful.

  13. I want to say: I totally get it!
    Love the name Inky, too.
    Inky is drawing using computer animation softwar, wanting to get into a good game developing company without going through school. He wants to make his drawing of Amanda's salad super 3-D.
    Sounds like a great story of a skilled artist who has struggled with finding his identity in the types of drawings he's done and will struggle to find his exact niche.