Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #36

GENRE: YA Contemporary

My first thought when I saw the wallet just sitting there between the Nightcrawlers and the frozen Charleston Chews was–who’s the bozo that dropped a wallet in the freezer? My second thought was–think there’s any money in there? My third thought was–I’m not great with the moral dilemma.

Don’t jump to conclusions. I didn’t immediately shove that wallet in my pocket. Honestly, my mother didn’t raise a rat like that. I just left it there chilling with the worms, like a normal guy would, and moseyed to the processed meat section of Volger's Variety looking for a little protein to get me through another day at the mountain bike track. Slim Jim selection is not something to take lightly. It can make or break a whole day. Just ask my best friend Crispy, he’ll tell you.

So there I was trying to decide between the classic or the Slim Jim Dare Habanero, when Shane Winters rounded the corner with enough Red Bulls to shoot me to Old Orchard Beach and back, and one frozen Charleston Chew. Just seeing him there with his football cleats leaving clumps of turf all over that same wooden floor we’d race over to get our Sour Patch worms as kids, kinda made me take pause.

See, we’ve got history, Shane and me. Unresolved history.

Mr. Volger cracked a roll of quarters like my mom cracked an egg and said,

“How’s varsity looking this year?”

Well, isn’t that the twenty million dollar question.


  1. I really like the voice in this.
    I think the last sentence in the third paragraph has great description and visuals but I would suggest rewording or tightening it a little as it felt a little awkward as I read it.
    I like the cracking a roll of quarters line.

  2. I like this. But I got confused with all of the food names.

  3. I love the voice. Wow. It really shines, and I love the style. The food descriptions work for me. The character seems to be wiser than average, but his metaphors are still age appropriate. I'm a sucker for that, so I would read on. Fabulous job.

  4. I agree with the other commenters. I love this voice in this and I'd read on. I am finding myself a little confused in the scene. I'm pretty sure slim jims, high end food that is, is kept in the frozen section. It also seems like at the moment, the MC isn't deciding between snacks, he's deciding whether to take the wallet. At least for me, a little clarification would be helpful. But as I said, I'd read. Good job.

  5. Strong voice. Very compelling. Tiny grammatical thing--shouldn't the last sentence end with a question mark?

  6. I agree with the others on this one: great voice, love the character and the situation you've put him in right away. I would definitely read on. I didn't get confused about the food. I thought it was a nice detail that makes him sound like a typical teenage guy.

  7. I love the voice in this. The Charleston Chew reference made me think this was set a decade or two ago, but then Red Bull not so much. Either way, I really like this. Great job! Good luck :)

  8. outstanding voice! we learn a lot about your character's style in these first 250.

    however, i didn't realize 'til later references to food that "Nightcrawlers and Charleston Chews" in the first para are candy.

    also, this sentence needs tightening, "Just seeing him there with his football cleats leaving clumps of turf all over that same wooden floor we’d race over to get our Sour Patch worms as kids, kinda made me take pause."

    perhaps mention volger as storekeeper in this sentence: "Mr. Volger, the storekeeper, cracked a roll of quarters-" had to reread to figure out who volger was.

    love this line: cracked a roll of quarters like my mom cracked an egg-

    i'd be interested to see where this story leads.

    good luck!

  9. Fantastic first few sentences, but then I stumbled with the meaning of "I''m not great with the moral dilemma." Not sure what exactly that means he does or does not have a hard time with moral dilemmas. Maybe this is a regional/colloquial saying.

    "My mother didn't raise a rat like that" reads as though she raised a rat just not like that. Perhaps you might drop the like that and just put a period after rat.

    The following sentence is awkward.

    Just seeing him there with his football cleats leaving clumps of turf all over that same wooden floor we’d race over to get our Sour Patch worms as kids, kinda made me take pause.

    I think you could lose a few words and leave us hanging.

    Seeing him in his football cleats, clumps of turf all over the floor, made me take pause.

    Just a thought.

    Tons of potential, best of luck,


  10. Really strong voice in this that grabbed me with the first few sentences. "I'm not great with the moral dilemma" made me laugh.

    I assume that the nightcrawlers are real worms and that this is the kind of rural general store where one can find bait and candy in the same freezer. That could be clearer, though.

    A couple of things didn't work for me:
    - the reference to Crispy seemed out of place because he doesn't appear in the scene
    - Sour Patch worms was one junk food too many for me, and I agree with others that that sentence was too long.

    Having said that, I would keep reading.

  11. The voice bugged me, but then I always have issues with characters who chat with the reader, because A)they tend to ramble and B)the reader isn't part of your story - unless this adventure has already happened and now the MC is retelling it.

    My other thought was why bother starting with the wallet in the freezer if nothing comes of it? ANd why would he leave it there instead of bringing it to the store owner?

    If the wallet is important, perhaps find a way to carry at least the thought of it throughout the rest of the excerpt. If there's a connection between it and SHane, get that on your first page.

  12. I liked the voice. I loved the 'dilemma' and the fact that. It never occurred to him to find the wallet's owner, this tells us a great deal about the MC, so good job. I was flummoxed by the worms, though. Was it actual bait or slang for something, or was he trying to say the hygeine in that store left a lot to be desired!

    Wish I knew what slim jims might be.

  13. The voice here is very believable. I laughed at the Slim Jim’s reference, but did feel that all the candy names cluttered up your opening. Consider trimming one reference or two (the “worms” specifically threw me off, as I first thought you meant there were actual worms in the freezer—and I wasn’t aware that Nightcrawlers were a type of candy!) You’re setting the stage for a conflict between your MC and Shane, but the mention of your MC’s best friend seemed out of place here; unless you include another line of context about Crispy, I might recommend introducing him later. One more point that I didn’t quite get—why would the candy be frozen?

  14. I don't think I can contribute much. This is not my cuppa although I like the voice and there's nothing wrong with the writing in itself, imho.