Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #2

TITLE: Little Things
GENRE: Middle Grade - Fantastical

She was on her bike but floating. Riding always cleared Ellie's head. Her foot slipped off the pedal and she knocked her shin on it—hard. She grimaced. Her dad was in a "mood" and it felt good to zip through the alley with a little extra speed. She veered between the telephone pole and gray corner bricks with an inch to spare on either side of her knuckles. She took a right turn and passed a few parked cars onto Douglas Street. Then she heard the familiar, "Mornin', Ellie."

It was Junior. He and the Signing Man sat across the street sipping coffee from their tall paper cups. Junior always brought The Signing Man a cup of coffee. The crisp fall morning air enhanced the swirl of steam rising from the top of Junior’s cup. Ellie waved as she rode past.

Ellie always sought the feeling of gravity tugging at her jaw and stomach at the end of each swerve back and forth through the middle of the street. But today, distracted, she snapped out of a turn just shy of a curb. What was going on? She was never klutzy. She pulled on the brake for the upcoming intersection. There wasn't a car in sight so she prepared to roll through. But as she slowed to the stop sign (as her father had instructed her to do countless times), she noticed some kind of toy amidst the gum wrappers and cigarette stubs at the base of the sign.


  1. This seems cute, but I don't think I'd read on because it feels a little disjointed. The first couple paragraphs of the scene feel kind of random. I'm not sure what her father being in a "mood" has to do with anything or what's going on with Junior and the Signing Man. It seems like the story really starts when she sees this toy, so I'd cut right to that, because what happens before it isn't all that gripping. I think it's not gripping because it doesn't have to do with Ellie's goal in this scene - what's she trying to do right now? Let off steam? Why? If it has to do with her dad, then I want that to be fleshed out more so I understand her motivation right now. As is, what she's doing seems kind of random, so I'm not pulled in. I hope this makes sense, but that's my gut. Good luck with this, though!

  2. Good description of sqeezing between the telephone pole and the brick. I could see it in my mind. If she is able to float on her bike why is she worried about the curb? Can't she just float higher? A few of the see sentences didn't flow smoothly but other than that, good job.

  3. Ellie seems too much in a rush in her thoughts, past whatever her dad was upset with, Junior (I was expecting her to stop) and then all of a sudden she spots a toy and it stops her.

    From the last paragraph (the subject of which may be a good start for the opening -- why she's biking, the feeling she's after, and then her father?), I gather she is trying to escape something on her morning bike ride, and so I'm surprised she gets waylaid by a toy amidst gum wrappers. The signing man is interesting as is Junior.

    I think you have an interesting character here, but there's too much happening too fast for me. (The two references to her father, one which implied he was someone to get away from, and the other which implied he was helpful teaching her, gave me two different impressions, too, in a short amount of space.)

    I also like that she is klutzy today, which is somehow different. That, and the feeling she's after, the fact that this is a routine of hers, seems a great basis for beginning the story, but I would slow it down and tighten it up ta bit.

    The floating image I think is figurative, right? If not, then how is she risking hurting herself. If she's riding fast past Junior and the Signing Man, how can she the swirl of steam? Is it the feeling of gravity she's after, or the feeling of defying it? Just little things, but they stopped me a bit.

    Lots of interesting stuff going on here!

  4. I like this. I can put myself in Ellie's head. There IS a lot of interesting stuff going on here and it feels frantic--which is how I feel when I'm riding a bike! Maybe it's just because I like your writing style, but I want to stay with it and find out what the toy is all about.

  5. The writing voice feels perfect for the targeted age. What I would work on is "showing" instead of "telling" - give me a scene with Ellie and her father fighting, then the escape on the bike has purpose. Or if you want to start at the bike ride - which is a great scene - then focus more on the purpose. Is the toy a toy?She can't know this right away - it's just an unnamed object so far.

  6. The first sentence threw me ... I first thought Ellie was dreaming. Then you put in the part about her father's mood and I got lost. Feels too random. I'm not really caring about Ellie yet. If you had started with the beginnig of the 3rd paragraph, of Ellie seeking the feel of gravity while riding her bike, I think it would make me a bit more attached to her to want to read on. Good Luck!

  7. This is an interesting set-up, with personality and setting thrown early--her dad doesn't seem like the greatest guy, Ellie likes to escape, Ellie notices the people around her.

    Being that this was categorized as Fantastical, I can't tell if the floating is real or imaginary. I assumed it was real, and immediately, the first two sentences reminded me of E.T. (Ellie, Elliot, floating on a bike). I'm certain that's not what you were going for, and maybe it's just my crazy thoughts.

  8. Yeah, this is a little fast paced. I think you need to flesh out ellie's emotions a little more.

    Good luck!

  9. This feels a bit overwritten at the moment. You're telling us too much of what's going through Ellie's head without giving us a chance to know who she is. We can know that she's upset, and that this is distracting her, but let us discover the reasons behind it--we don't need to know exactly why right away.