Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #31

GENRE: MG Paranormal Adventure

Thelma Bee had short confident bangs, a heavy red backpack, and no idea that something dangerous was searching for her. When the final bell of the school day rang that Wednesday afternoon, she closed her eyes and the sound transformed into a celebration of mariachi trumpets. Just one more school day until the long-long weekend. She busted out of the front door with the excitement that only 2:30 p.m. can bring, and navigating a path through a weird-smelling ocean of middle-schoolers, Thelma set a course for her dad’s antique shop.

Mr. Henry Bee was the proud proprietor of Bee’s Very Unusual Antiques – which was, in Thelma’s opinion, a bit of false advertising. Sometimes they sold items that were quite ordinary, like an old chipped mug, and sometimes they sold things that were not antique at all, like Mrs. Edelstein’s homemade cookies. Maybe, she thought, the shop should be named something more like Bee’s Very Unusual Antiques and Also Some Very Normal Antiques and Also Cookies. Not very catchy, but honest.

“Hey Dad!” She threw down her backpack and plopped herself on an overstuffed chair from the 1970s.

“Hey kiddo!” hollered Henry.

He emerged from his workshop in a worn-out brown apron. Henry Bee sported the kind of thick eyeglasses that were fashionable in the 1950’s, as he had a passion for the old and unique. Once a journalist for the American Post, Henry traveled the globe reporting on strange occurrences from Albany to Antarctica.


  1. I like this so far. Good descriptions. I can really visualize it.

  2. I love that second paragraph! Great glimpse of Thelma's personality. I wasn't so sure of the very first line - it felt a little bit like a logline rather than the beginning of a story. I'd cut the "Thelma" from the last sentence of the first paragraph - I don't think you need to mention her name twice in one paragraph. Nitpicky, I know. Overall this is a great start. I'd read farther.

  3. Kudos on the voice in this. Really good with the voice.

    My only nitpicks are describing the chair as "from the 1970s" or the glasses as from the "1950s." I'm "older" so I now what you mean, but for younger readers, especially, it would be good to have more description so they can visualize it. Was the chair burnt orange or avocado colored or something? I'm guessing they were the Buddy Holly eyeglasses, right? But would a child age 9 to 12 know that?

    But I must say this sounds very mysterious and I like the antique shop angle. This sounds promising to me.

  4. This is so cute. I love the names. And short, confident bangs? Great description. But that first sentence needs to be trimmed, it flips from 3rd person to narration. Her rename of the store made me laugh out loud. Good work, and I would keep reading for sure!

  5. Good first line, but the rest of the paragraph doesn't do much for getting us to the interesting story it promises. You'll have other opportunities to give your character a voice. All these do is delay the story from really starting. I'd keep the reference to school so the reader can get an idea of Thelma's age, but would cut the rest.

    You have some interesting details, but maybe throw in another reference to whatever is searching for her. Give us more of a sense of foreboding underneath the humor. All we have here is internal monologue and a quick conversation. Nothing to draw the reader in aside from the promise of clever writing. Let the plot show through a little more.

  6. I LOVE the punchy, exact details. Excellent writing! The only things I'd improve would be to echo KyCactus on the 1950s description--I think you could keep it in, but only after giving a few more details to let a kid born after 2000 have a clue what 1950s glasses even look like. But the confident bangs, the red backpack, etc.--just excellent.

  7. I love the way you describe things and still kick in a bit of her personality in the process. Great job! Would love to read more about this!

  8. I like this, but the last line makes me worry you're going to spend too much time on backstory and take too long getting to the dangerous thing chasing Thelma.

  9. I just adore this. Punchy, age-appropriate voice, and fabulous descriptions. Previous critiquers have mentioned a need for more desc of the chair from the 70s, or glasses from the 50s, and I doubt a metaphor/adjective or two would hurt, but I don't know that it's necessary.

    I do think you might want to keep the desc of the father down to one sentence, if possible, to get right into action. And I think the comma in this sentence, "only 2:30 p.m. can bring, and navigating a path through" needs to be moved to between "and" and "navigating." Those are my two nitpicks.

    To re-iterate: Great job! I am definitely hooked.

  10. Well, I pretty much liked everything about this, especially Thelma's waxing logical about her dad's store name. Totally charming and plenty interesting, so I'm certainly hooked...the only thing that felt slightly forced was the end of the opening line ("no idea that something dangerous was searching for her"), which had that "I'm trying to hook the reader in the first five seconds!" feeling to it a bit too transparently. Maybe just soften "something dangerous" into something more vague or open-ended? Maybe even "no idea that something very unusual was searching for her" to play into her father's antiques? Overall, though, this is pretty joyous...