Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #40

TITLE: Apple Boxes
GENRE: MG Contemporary Fiction

“Hey Ace, are you in here?” I heard my dad holler through the garage door, “I need you to come out here and give me a hand.” Ugh, I thought, what now. I put a bookmark between the pages of my book and tossed it aside, slipped on some sandals, and headed out front.

Dad’s truck was parked in the driveway, the back full of empty apple boxes. I stopped in my tracks and sighed. Oh man, here we go again.

“Dad, does this mean what I think it means?”

“Do you think it means we’re moving?” he replied with a tinge of sarcasm in his voice.

“Well, I admit it’s the first thing that came to mind.”

“Then yes, oh Observant One, you are correct.”

Apple boxes. It’s always apple boxes. Occasionally a banana box finds its way home, but mostly apple. They are the perfect size, he says. And they usually have cut out handles – makes them easier to carry. He also works at a grocery store, which makes them easy to come by.

“Already?” I asked, “We haven’t even been here six months.”

“The owner put this house on the market,” my dad replied as he dropped the tailgate of the truck. “I’m not going to sit around here and wait for them to kick us out. Mom and I found another place not too far from here and we can move in right now. Might as well get it over with.”

I sighed and grabbed a couple of boxes.


  1. I generally don't read contemporary, but I liked the beginning of this. The dialog is believable. There's enough in there for the over all setting. It made me wonder in which direction the story would take.

  2. I like this. It's planted and feels real. I'm concerned for the family already, especially as one who's moved more times than anyone should.
    "Oh Observant one" --LOL. Sounds like me. I must know what'll happen. Good luck with this!

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  4. The opening of this story is very descriptive. I can see it through your main character's eyes. But I want to feel it too. She's being uprooted again. It's happened enough that she knows the signs. But how does that affect her? Consider adding her reaction through deeper point of view to help us understand her character better, and to set up the conflict of what's to come.

  5. I don't really have any criticisms here. Great contemporary voice! I'd read on.

  6. It's me - the verb police. Instead of "tossed" the book aside, use "I toss the book aside" and make other verbs match. You'll be shocked at how this easy fix pushes the story forward. Just my humble opinion.

  7. Interesting contemporary. There are so many directions this could take, I'd probably read more just to find out why they keep moving and where they are moving to...and why that is the catalyst to tell this story.

    The first line is too telling though. Change here to there (unless the dad is in the garage and the lights are out and that is why he can't see and has to ask), take out the I heard my, and change holler to its past tense so it reads: "Hey Ace, are you in there?" Dad hollered through the garage door.

    Even then, the first line doesn't feel as catchy as I'd like but at least it isn't telling.

    I disagree about changing the verb tense from past to present. Some books are written in first person, present tense and that's fine, but not every story needs to be told that way. The story will push forward when you show instead of tell the action.

    I like the dad's sarcasm. I think the kid would've been more sarcastic/snarkier/grouchier, too, saying something like: "That is the first thing that came to mind." The Well, I admit makes the MC sound kind of proper and stuffy, not really like a kid, especially not one that is annoyed/disappointed about having to move again.

    Thanks for sharing and good luck!

  8. I thought you did a good job at making the apple boxes important and wondered if they’ll be a symbol for other things as the story progresses. And I thought the dialogue worked well.

    There are some technical issues. Your first parg should be two pargs. Separate them at the Ugh. And parg 7 is in present tense, while the rest is in past tense.

    I wondered if his room is in the garage, and if it is, would they still call it the garage or would they refer to it as Ace’s room? And wouldn’t Ace refer to it as ‘my room?’

    And have all their moves been around town? Dad always gets apple boxes from the grocery store where he works, but if they moved from another city or state, would he always get a job in a grocery store?

  9. I don't really have any criticism of the writing at all. This reads nice and easily, feels real and gives me a nice taste of the father/daughter relationship. However despite that, I have to say I'm not quite hooked, I need a bit more plot to go on for a first page than just that they're moving house. Perhaps start at their new home, since I'm guessing that's where the story gets going?

  10. The narrator comes off more as a teen than tween, which is why I was surprised to realize this book is supposed to be MG.

    His dad comes across as really snotty to his son, which might account for my assumption that the boy is older, as boys and their fathers really start to butt heads when a kid hits his teens.

    Reading through some other comments, I realized that I assumed this was a boy, but it could very possibly be a girl, as there's nothing here that gives much of an indication either way. "Ace" could reasonably be a nickname for either.

  11. Nice. You got my attention with the boxes and moving.
    I was curious to know what the book was--giving the title might be a good chance to hint at theme.