Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #38

GENRE: Middle Grade

As soon as we get out of the elevator, I know something is wrong. Instead of walking alongside us, Hattie skips ahead down the hall. And when Fetch Man opens our door, I know what it is.

The shoes and boots are missing. The fake flowers are gone. And… the whole entryway is empty!

Without waiting for Fetch Man to remove the leash, I rush off, nose to the floor. What could have happened? Intruders? Strangers? Cats?

But all I smell are Food Lady, Fetch Man, and Hattie. My own family.

Could it be me? I’ve been on high alert ever since we went outside. Hattie seemed so distracted, she almost collided with a bunch of humans outside a snorting bus. Fetch Man appeared to be rushing the entire way to the Dog Park. And once we were there, he threw the ball a couple of times and then acted like he couldn’t wait to get home. They sure were behaving weird.

Maybe I’m overreacting. There was probably an innocent explanation for everything. Like Cody’s always telling me, “Relax, Jack. Life is not nearly as dangerous as you think.” Easy for him to say; he’s a Cockapoo. Everybody knows how mellow they are. Jack Russell Terriers are just the opposite. It’s in our DNA. Or at least that’s what the dogs at the shelter used to say.
Sure, Cody could have a point. Maybe I should chill out. And besides, I have more important things to think about. Like breakfast.


  1. I like this. I've always enjoyed books from the perspective of animals, particularly dogs. The only thing I might do is increase his excitement in places. You did this by having him rush off sniffing and identifying possible answers to the newness, so maybe something along those lines a little further down. That is, unless you are about to do that again soon. I'd keep reading.

  2. I think this is really fun and funny. I agree with Feaky Snucker about increasing the excitement. I want to know what's going on with the changes the dog sees and his worries, but then suddenly at the end of the excerpt he thinks about food. A normal dog reaction :-) but maybe he should think about food, then realize the changes are more important--and he's shocked he would make food secondary. Something like that--humorous plus keeping the mystery going. Good luck!

  3. Cute. I can tell that he is stressed, but maybe a little more?

  4. I've never been big on stories written from an animal's perspective, however, it's cute. So I'd actually be tempted to hang in there a little longer.

    Good job.

  5. This is cute!

    Two things I was confused about (I get confused easily):
    1. I can't tell if the humans are in the process of moving (hence the empty hallway), or if something is just amiss in the house. Maybe I don't need to know the answer to that yet, but it pulled me out of the story a bit, thinking I'd missed something.

    2. "snorting bus" threw me. I wasn't sure if that was descriptive human-wording, or if that was dog-wording. I hope you know what I mean by that, haha! Often in stories told by animals, they make up funny terms for everyday objects. I was literally picturing a bus... Snorting. It was a pig-shaped bus. I probably watch too many cartoons ;) So, in short, maybe choose a different word.

    I'd read more!

    Good luck :)

  6. I'm not usually a fan of stories told from an animal's POV, but this is cute. I particularly like the doggish way your MC thinks, and the names for the humans based on what purpose they serve in his life.

  7. I really like the first half of this- the first four short paragraphs.

    When I see the title Fetch Man, I instantly know the MC is a dog and I smile and I read on because you have done it so cleverly.

    However, something about that last half loses much of its dogish voice.

    The "Could it be me?" line seems too human. "They sure were behaving weird," seemed a human thought as well. Make everything he says and thinks reflect who he is because this is the essence of a unique POV story like this.

    I would read on if the second half continued to carry your unique POV.

  8. I like the intro more and more as I read it. It took a moment to realize that we have a canine main character, but I think in the last two paragraphs that is pulled off well.

    There are some tense problems but they should be easily fixed. In the second paragraph and em dash might work better than an ellipse. The prose is a little choppy, but I think that's how a dog would think so it works.

    I really like Jack and I would read on (and so would my twelve year old).

  9. This is cute! I'm curious enough to want to read on.

    Good Luck. :)

  10. If all you pull off in the first 250 is to get the reader used to the idea that this is a dog then you have done all that need be done. Because this contest is arbitrarily set at 250 words, many people's crits seem to be saying they want everything in that first 250. No no. If it were a 500 word contest then I think most people's anxieties would be taken care of. Read all the entries and you will see what I mean. :) There are mysteries where they want it arced in the first 250, a 9-11 story where someone was upset there were no explosions in the first 250, and a love story where someone wanted the romance not only implied but consummated. it is the first 250 - this is great. Don't let anyone tell you different. Tell the MTV ADHD people to go back to watching MTV. You did a great job!

  11. (continued) think of it this way - we are near the 100th anniversary of TITANIC disaster...yet what would you get if you had the first 250 of that story? as in the movie - looking for debris? no no, Jack playing cards? no no, Rose arriving in luxury? if you wrote those first 250 people would be saying well, it's about a boat that sinks so where is the sinking...we are talking about 250 WORDS in novels that run 80 THOUSAND. Come on everyone. Please! or is this a no foreplay crowd? :)

  12. Hear! Hear! for Happy Dolphin! So tired with the MTV ADHD folks. But, given the constraints of the contest...we must comply.

    Didn't realize MC was a dog @ 1st and when I did I was pleased. Well done. I'd want to read more.

  13. This is exactly how I picture my doggie (see avatar) speaking. I got "dog" from the beginning ("Fetch Man"...hilarious!).

  14. I like this opening. I loved the action, the smells, the visuals. You really had me in the moment with the MC (hard to do when it's a dog!) and all was going along great.

    "But all I smell are Food Lady, Fetch Man, and Hattie. My own family."

    Great lines. We know there is a mystery.

    But, instead of going off into the MC's head for the next two longer paragraphs, I want to keep going. I want to see the outside from the dog's POV, I want to know what else he sees, experiences, and smells. I don't want to go into his head until something actually happens on this first page to support the great set-up you gave us.

    It's a great voice, but going inside the dog's head so quickly was too heavy-handed.

  15. Author of Entry #38April 16, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    Thanks to Authoress for hosting this contest!

    Thanks to the Bot for choosing my entry!

    Thanks to everyone who offered such positive and helpful comments!

    And special thanks to Tricia for your kind words and thoughtful feedback!