Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #32

TITLE: BAD APPLES
GENRE: Middle grade

Showtime! Saving my announcement until lunchtime wasn’t easy, but this wasn’t just any news. This was big! Bigger than the time I got the lead in the sixth grade play. Much bigger than the boor-ring seventh grade chorus and band performance—even though I did have a solo. By the time they’d posted the picks for this year’s musical leads, nobody had been surprised to see the name Claire Campbell at the top of the list.

But today’s news needed an audience, which was why I’d waited until everyone was together in the cafeteria. My stomach tumbled with nerves as I went through the lunch line. I loved the feeling of near-nausea that hit me before every performance, but just to be safe, I skipped the greasy chicken fingers, and the pasta jumble that looked like the leftovers from all of last week’s meals. I couldn’t take a chance on pizza splatter either, so I settled on an ice-cream sandwich.

The noise in the cafeteria was so loud it was hard to rehearse my lines. Mr. Willard yelled at some boy to stop running, but the kid barely slowed. The science teacher had come back from summer vacation using a cane and limping. Some kids said he’d been in a car accident; others said he was dying from some strange hip disease. I decided he’d been shot while on assignment at a super-secret lab where he was working on a cure for middle school stupidity. The Cooper twins could be his first test subjects.

13 comments:

  1. Both I and my 7yo (who is a tough audience) were super excited by the first few sentences, but then we lost steam. To streamline, I think I would cut the third and fourth sentences as they're kind of confusing and not totally essential. Then I'd drop the 'But' and go right to, "Today's news needed an audience, which was why..." I'd also drop the line about pizza splatter and the part about rehearsing, too (lines? for an announcement? confusing again). In fact, you might skip this whole graph about the science teacher and get us right to the actual announcement. Maybe you can work in the part about the science teacher later--cute bit about the Cooper twins. I see why you went there, to show us she's super imaginative, but you did such a great job showing us how exuberant she is with the first two sentences

    Another little niggling thing: I think what you're going for in the third sentence (if you keep it) is bor-ing, italicized. Boor-ing reads like we're talking about someone boorish.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow- there's a lot of info here. I feel a bit breathless and maybe that's what you were aiming for but I think a few of the details bordered on distracting.

    I'd skip the last line of the first para and get to the "But today's news" line faster because it is that news that piqued my interest. I really do want to know what it is- good job with that- but I felt a little confused by all the lines about the teacher with the cane- does it have something to do with the news?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oops, meant to say, that you did such a great job showing us how exuberant she is with the first two sentences that you don't really need it!

    ReplyDelete
  4. The voice in this is fantastic, but I do wonder if you you go on a bit much in the first paragraph. I feel like this could be shortened so this feeling doesn't wear out it's welcome.

    And I love the idea that the Science teacher was shot while on assignment to cure middle school stupidity. That made me laugh. Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love the voice. The mega-details add to a sense of breathless excitement bordering on anxiety, which is what your mc is feeling. Your mc is charming and sympathetic. I would read more!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Waaaay too much back-story here. You'll have time to do that on page 20. For now, get us turning pages.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I agree about the back-story. I like the voice and I think I'll like the story, but get to it! Too much about the lunch and unless Mr. Willard is important, too much, too early about him. Although I love the idea that she imagines him as working on a cure for middle school stupidity. Although, would she think that? Maybe middle school boy stupidity?

    ReplyDelete
  8. You've spent your 250 words on the MC getting ready to tell us something. It's not creating suspense. For me, it's a case of get on with it already.

    If you just let the MC come out and say whatever it is, that in itself should hook a reader because then we'll be wondering about something specific, as opposed to something vague.

    I'd suggest cutting all but a short parg of this and just let the MC say whatever it is he has to say. Get the story going. If it doesn't move, readers get bored.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Loved "cure of middle school stupidity".

    I could have used a hint of what her big announcement was.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Is the main character's name Claire Campbell? On first reading, I thought it referred to her rival, but now I'm not so sure.

    The text can be streamlined a bit, but overall I like the voice and setup of the story. I do wonder if her over-the-top, explosive personality will be a bit much over the course of the book, but it works well at the beginning.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The first few sentences are good and I love the third paragraph, but I would cut/streamline the rest. We don't need the backstory about the music performances or the description of the cafeteria food.

    ReplyDelete
  12. You've got my attention. Great portrayal of character through relevant narration.

    ReplyDelete