Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #48

GENRE: MG fantasy

Breathe. Woops.

Jarron felt the black dizziness recede a bit as he made his way up the impossibly long emerald green carpet. He couldn’t see Sasha, there were too many people standing between them, but he knew they were both heading for the same place – the massive, majestic dais at the head of the room. His parents were there, waiting, and hers were too. And just like everyone else, they are watching our every move.

I really should breathe. Sergei told me I had to, when I was getting dressed. If I faint, Sasha will never let me live it down. She would torture me forever.

To be fair, I would do the same thing to her. The thought alone helped him draw in another deep breath, deeper than before, and Jarron was distantly surprised that it helped as much as it did.

I can do this. Piece of cake… as long as no one notices my chest working so hard that my medals are practically jingling. Jarron forced himself to stay calm and not laugh aloud at his wayward thought, which suddenly seemed funnier than it actually was. I have lost my mind, and I am not even betrothed yet.

Desperate for a distraction, Jarron focused on the four magnificent thrones at the head of the room, and the people in them. His father, King Vincent-Clement, and his mother, Queen Jessabell, sat to the right of the dais, resplendent in the emerald green of the Kingdom of Korbaum, his home.


  1. This doesn't feel very MG to me. Also, I'm not sure about all the internal thoughts right at the beginning. I think, maybe it's taking him too long to get down that aisle because of all his thinking. I'd like to see more of what is about to happen.

  2. I like the immediate feeling of a long-standing antagonistic relationship you get between Sasha and Jarron based on his comments about her.

    I guess I can understand Samantha Jean's comment about thinking it isn't MG when you read about a betrothal. I wonder if it would help to bring Jarron's age into the first page, since I know from your pitch that he's 13. But it might make for too much backstory too early.

  3. Interesting concept, two young people getting betrothed. I liked the way you showed Jarron's nervousness. I also like where the story is going, but for MG there's a lot of complex inner dialogue with no action or external dialogue. The "Breathe. Woops" first line stopped me. I needed more information about the environment to put me in the scene: indoor/outdoor, crowded or not, etc.

  4. Interesting start, and your mc is easy to like. I agree with Grandkee about the first line (Breathe. Woops). It's not needed and a bit confusing. Also, think about eliminating "piece of cake," a cliché. It distracts from the authentic voice of the rest of the page.

    Intriguing. Best wishes!

  5. The opening line, might better serve as "Breathe" without the woops. Interesting concept of a middle grader getting betrothed, but the voice sounded older than middle grade for me.

  6. I agree with somehow trying to get his age in those first paragraphs. Maybe by mentioning if there are other kids watching or something? and maybe using "the girl I'm being forced to marry" or "the girl I've been arranged to marry" instead of betrothed?
    I like the scene with the medals practically jingling--I can picture the poor lil guys chest heaving and him trembling a bit!
    I like the breath in the beginning. But not the Woops line. Or if you decided to change the first lines, you could move the breathe or just breath to a line or two down.
    Good Luck!

  7. I like this. I had a hard time with the 'woops' as well, but that's an easy fix. I don;t think you need to cut the word betrothed to indicate MG. In high fantasy words like that are common. But you do need to make sure the age of you MC is grounded immediately. I can feel the younger voice in there, you just need to pull him out a bit.

    I'd cut most of the first paragraph. Just pick the most important detail or image, then start w/ "I really should breathe". Maybe add something about Sergei helping him dress, to help show how young he is (also royal).

  8. I agree that the voice sounds older than middle grade. I felt like there was too much internal dialogue. Although some is necessary to understand the character's emotional state,I wonder if some of the antagonism between the young people could be shown instead. The full paragraph of back story as internal dialogue didn't work for me. Could this be put in the narrative?

  9. I really liked the "Breathe. Woops," but the previous mentions to modify are on point. The "Woops" pulled me from reading further because I wanted to know the reason for it instead of wanting to go further in the actual reading.

    I did finally continue, which I'm glad I did. The word choice was wonderful and the conflict foreshadowed for the happy-couple-to-be (lol!) kept me interested. However, I got more of a feeling of a betrothal between teens instead of tweens. In reading, I tried to bear in mind that things would be somewhat different for fantasy. Such arrangements weren't unheard of for children of royalty.

    Perhaps it is the maturity of the word choice that was both an attraction to me as a reader, but raised a bit of a flag regarding the MG tag for the story.

    Also, regarding the dizziness, I'm not sure if it can be described by a color. I can imagine dizziness could cause one's vision to blur or even the mind to teeter on the cusp of fading to black. Just something that caught my attention.

  10. I liked that you introduced the issues between Sasha and Jarron early on... sounds like this will be an interesting betrothal! And his fear that she will tease him if he faints gave the reader a hint that this was a MG story (immaturity showing through). The rest of the text read as older, and I would try to introduce his age as soon as possible.

    I liked the opening line being his internal thoughts:'Breathe'. It brought me into Jarron's character right away and let me understand how nervous he is. However, 'woops' made me think he had tripped over something. Perhaps it's not necessary?

    From these few words, I can tell that Jarron is a very likable character, if a little insecure. I would read on to see how Sasha and him interact!

    Good luck!

  11. I didn't think the 'Breathe. Woops' worked, because there's no context for it. We don't know why he needs to breathe or why he's saying whoops.

    Most of this could be tightened a lot. You tell the reader things that the MC already knows. For example, he knows his parents, and Sasha's, are sitting up front, so why would he say this? Instead, tell us something about his parents or hers. WHat are they doing as they sit there?

    And instead of all the internal thoughts, let him walk toward the dais and show us his nervousness. SHow us the glances he gets from the parents, from any other people who are watching. Show us how all that makes him feel.

    Overall, it's mostly telling. Work in some showing.

    And as others have said, the MG doesn't come across. Perhaps lower the tone of his language.parents.

  12. Interesting story and I want to know more, but I was confused by the inner dialogue because it switched tenses and took me out of the description. I would think that this

    A few of the sentences could be tighter or done away with. For eg, The first sentence I would leave out "a bit". Just receding is enough. Or also, not super important about the thrones at the head of the room and people in could just leave it at "focus on the thrones" Also, are there other details that would give more description rather than where they are sitting? I like the Emerald green which represents his home but it left me wanting more details like this.
    I think the story shows promise, just a little tighter on the writing

  13. For me there is far too much narrative and internal thought going on here. Some of the sentences are very long, with one counting 33 words. The language and word choice is very formal for MG. And nothing much is going on.

  14. I felt there were too many inner thoughts at the beginning, too. Like instead of him being on his way to the dais, maybe he can already be there. And since this is middle grade and since fantasy the majority of the time is so serious, maybe the opening can be a rude fart joke going on in Jarron's head. I'm not sure exactly, but something that makes this stand out as a fantasy, like maybe making this a quirky fantasy. Anyway, I think the scene definitely makes readers want to know the premise and what's going on.

  15. Very unusual set-up! The premise of a betrothal is a bit difficult to reconcile with MG, though. I wasn’t sure how this would play out, as Jarron’s thoughts walking up the carpet were rather mature for a kid about to get engaged (he almost sounded like a nervous adult groom!) It would be great to hear some more typical pre-teen thoughts from Jarron (how annoying Sasha is, how did his parents drag him into this, etc.) It could be tough to introduce marriage elements into MG, as young readers might not be able to relate here unless Jarron is more kid-like.

  16. If this is MG, it's Upper MG at the best. You might want to rethink your audience (especially if Sasha and Jarron are going to get betrothed as I assume). Other than that, I like the voice and the descriptions. Everything seems rather real. Add another sense (maybe the noises he hears or the absence of them or a smell) and you've got a great start.