Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #39

GENRE: MG Fantasy

“Leah looked behind herself --horrified! There were wings sprouting from her back.”

Gia Harding slammed shut the book she was reading.

“Horrified!” She thought. Seriously? Why were crazy book characters always freaking out because they got to do something fabulous-- like sprout wings, or find out they were half-fairy, or discover they were the key to an important plot to save the world from total destruction? Gia wouldn’t be horrified. She would gladly rise to the occasion and save the world with grace and style. But she could only read about such things.

She tossed the book onto the seat and caught her mother’s eyes watching her from the rear-view mirror.

“Something wrong?”

“No,” said Gia. “I just don’t feel like reading is all.”

Gia’s mother Fran was a writer—an author actually, of fantasy books for teens, and Gia did not feel like getting embroiled in a conversation about story arcs or literary devices or anything else at the moment. Fran said Gia was the best book critic she knew, since Gia was the “target market” age of twelve for Middle Grade or “M.G.” fiction as it was called. But to Gia, this was less of a compliment and more of a burden. Her mother was always grilling her about books but sometimes Gia just wanted to read without thinking about red herrings, or double entendres, or any of the other techno-weanie-gear-head things her mom was always so interested in. Reading should be like breathing. You shouldn’t have to think about it so much.


  1. At first I was like "Wait a minute, is this the beginning? This seems like the middle- oooooh"
    I love Gia already. She's thinking exactly what I think when I read! She already has a good clear voice straight out.
    Interesting that her mom is an arthur. I wonder how that'll play out later when things start to hit a little to close to her job. I'd definetely read more.

  2. I like this. It promises fantasy immediately,even though it starts off in a contemporary world. Gia has voice and spunk from the get-go. I'd cut the line 'But she could only read about such things." just to give the preceding sentence more of a spike. Also I'm getting good info about Gia's mother but I think it could be cut back a bit. Hope that helps. Overall this gets a like like from me.

  3. The story draws me in right away, with some wonderful observations about how the main characters think and react. I would cut the line "But she could only read.." and find a way to work the backstory into casual conversation. Right now it reads like an info-dump, and there has to be a subtle way of introducing these important ideas. But overall, I loved the concept and would want to read more.

  4. I thought this was great, right up to the last paragraph. Gia is smart and spunky. I love the fact that she questions what she reads. I'm also interested in her relationship with her mother, the writer, but as JD said, I would rather see that play out in scene than be told about it. Maybe have Mom start asking those questions that drive Gia nuts and weave some of Gia's opinions into a conversation.

  5. Love this! I definitely want to see where it's going. I was a little wary of the mom turning into a "how to write MG" figure, but I think Gia is going to take control of her life and the story quite nicely.

  6. I liked this so much!
    The explanatory "M.G." was a bit much, IMO. Maybe just work that bit of info in. Like any book that had "MG" on the spine was fair game...or what ever.

    Really, though, very cool. :)

  7. I kind of liked her frustration with not being able to just enjoy a story without having to think about the editing. It might be a little "fourth wall" thing on the author's part.

    All most writers want is for readers to just have fun reading their books.

    The big win is when kids stay up all night with a flashlight to read a book under the covers.

  8. This sounds like a great story with interesting characters. I already like Gia. Gia is a great name also. There is a lot of telling, maybe we don't need to know so much about Fran right away. That said, I would keep reading. You've peaked my interest.

    Good luck, hope to see this in print.

  9. I was amused by how 'meta' this was, though I'd have to say the last paragraph got a little wordy with describing MG books. I love the voice, and agree with it for the most part.

  10. Great entry until a little drag in the last paragraph. Maybe consider cutting the sentences that start with "Fran said" and "But to Gia" to make it move faster. We get the picture without these.

  11. I like the voice and character immediately. Didn't care for the last paragraph, however. I would read on!

  12. Interesting premise, but I got lost in the middle paragraph.Might read more.

  13. Good beginning! You’ve already set us up for the fantasy part and I like Gia’s personality. Nice writing, too. A few suggestions:

    “There were wings sprouting from her back.” I’d get rid of “There was” even if it is somebody’s else’s imaginary book.

    Tighten “Gia Harding slammed shut the book she was reading.” to “Gia Harding slammed the book shut.”

    Delete “Horrified” and put “Seriously?” before the tag.

    You could leave out “an author actually, of fantasy books for teens” since you say Gia was the target market. Instead of “Middle Grade or “M.G.” fiction as it was called” (too telly) you could say “Gia was the target market for teen fantasy.”

    Love the lines: “Reading should be like breathing. You shouldn’t have to think about it so much.”

  14. I'm afraid the "meta" nature of this opening lost me. It felt as though this was a critique of certain publishing tropes rather than an attempt to establish character and setting. In other words, I didn't believe these were Gia's complaints--I believed they were the author's. This impression was solidified once we got to the detailed description of Gia's mother and what she did. It reads more like preaching than storytelling.

    Your average middle grade reader probably won't care much about the details of the "M.G. marketplace." You might simply explain that Fran was a writer of children's books, and Gia didn't much like being a test audience for her mother's projects. This way, we get the character's exasperation this way without feeling like we're being taught a lesson.