Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #4

GENRE: YA edgy contemporary

A thick, yellowing fingernail strikes the edge of my desk; two succinct taps forcing me to look up from my poetic masterpiece. Mrs. Hickenlooper's eyes bulge as if her three hefty chins are attempting to choke the life out of her. Her labored breathing only supports the effect of strangulation. "Am I boring you Mister Blackwell?"

"I assume that's rhetorical," I say flatly, returning my focus to scratching the letter "S" in the top left corner of my notebook. Muffled laughter rebounds around the classroom causing Mrs. Hickenlooper's bulbous eyes to narrow, which is no easy feat.

"Out," Mrs. Hickenlooper hisses, jutting her sausage finger in the direction of the exit, as if I'm too stupid to locate it for myself. I feel another sarcastic remark bubbling up, something about my 4.3 GPA, but I swallow it back down as I casually finish the last of my scratching.


Now F – * – * – * – T – H – I – S will be visible in the top margin of at least the next thirty sheets of notebook paper. I know it isn't particularly clever, or imaginative even, but I smile at my handiwork all the same. Then I calmly collect my belongings, and stroll out of AP Macroeconomics unsure of how, exactly, forcing me to leave all this is a punishment. A few of my classmates cower as I pass, surely expecting an outburst of some sort. The thing is, I just don't care enough to oblige.


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  2. I liked the voice, action, and descriptions very much.

    Only two niggling things:

    "Am I boring you Mister Blackwell?"
    -- There must be a comma after "you."

    If the boy returns his focus to his paper, how does he see the teacher's eyes narrow? That's a POV mistake.

    Good luck. :-)

  3. You've got an interesting character here, someone who has great grades but hates school. I like clashes. I'm reminded a bit of Rick Riordan. Not sure what the plot might be just from this short bit, but it is just the first page :)

  4. I agree that I would keep reading because the high GPA and the attitude don't really go together. I'm curious to know what happened to this boy to make him hate school yet still get good grades. Interesting.

  5. You've got great voice coming through in such a short submit and I'd definitely turn the page to find out more about this intelligent, sarcastic - yet arrogant - MC.

    I enjoyed this and would for sure read on.

    Best of luck!

  6. I think you definitely have the student POV (I'm a teacher and I just KNOW they see all of us this

    The only nit I have is the use of adjectives--there are just so many. However, the adjectives also convey the voice well.

    Good luck!!

  7. Great description - so vivid and sharp and dynamic. I, too, am curious why your MC has the attitude he does - is it a change? Did something recently happen to him? The quality of the writing is excellent, and I'd definitely read on. Nice work.

  8. I like the snark and arrogance, but it leaves me wondering why he is that way. And do you maintain this level of snark throughout the ms?

    Maybe delete "sausage" so that the description of the teacher isn't overdone. Would her fingernail be "yellowing" or "yellowed." Maybe get rid of the "eyes to narrow." You may not want the focus to be so much on the teacher's looks as it is on the boy.

    Excellent writing. You've got me hooked.

  9. I like the voice and the vivid descriptions, but I wanted to see more conflict. If he's the edgy bright boy with attitude, I want to see him go all out and be that. He's cynical about not caring, but ambiguity isn't very interesting. I think he's bored, and I think when the teacher asks him if she's boring him, he should say "yes." I want to see what kind of reaction that gets from her and from the class. And that's when I want to see how he processes those reactions: satisfied? angry? indifferent? disgusted? This will give us more insight to his character. A great start and I think it could be even better.

  10. I agree with all the positive - voice, conflict, vivid descriptions. All very well done. My only crit would be that one cannot hiss the word out. Try it. See? A more appropriate modifier (like 'through gritted teeth'. Try doing it - I bet you can :) ). But that's the only thing I would change. Best of luck!

  11. You've introduced a sympathetic character here, who I'd like to know more about.

    But I think the conflict on this page goes by too fast. I didn't have time to really grasp the setting or what the conflict was before he was kicked out of class and it was over. If this incident is important, I think you could linger on it. If not, maybe it's better to start somewhere else?

    With some rearranging I think this would be a strong start.