Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #38

TITLE: Stories Walker
GENRE: MG Fantasy

A gigantic piece of paper crumpled over and around Thalia. She had been created just a few months ago, and someone had thrown aside the rough draft in which she lived. Ink pooled in silhouettes around her feet mixed with bits of paper.

She pushed them away, staining her palms in the black mush.

“Writer, let me out!”

She kicked the paper and the walls snapped in answer.

“I’m here!” But her writer probably could not hear her. “That’s what I get for being as small as a cap eraser.”

Thalia tried to remember what had happened, but her head hurt as if she had hit it somewhere. The last thing she recalled before her writer tore the page and threw her in a trash can, was the Winter Queen chasing her through the pages of her story.

Something pinched her heart in her chest. She called me a thief. But… I didn’t steal anything. She shook her head and rose her chin up, rebuffing an urge to cry. I was well trained. I mean, I’m his Muse, inspiring content. I know everything about copyright infringement.

Thalia searched her pockets and the folds of her toga. Something caught her eyes. A petal-strewn bracelet sent dull strokes of light across her tanned skin and ricocheted off of the paper around her. Her mood lighted up a bit. Glow in the dark, I love that stuff. It’s great when lost in storylines. The letters on the page blended together wherever the fingers of light brushed.


  1. inimitableballerinaMay 14, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    I like the concept, but I am confused. My understanding is a writer threw her out, and now she is in a trashcan, contained in a crumpled sheet of paper however she was last written.

    Does she see the bracelet as another item in the trashcan or on the page or on herself?

    Really neat stuff, but we need to know for sure what the restrictions of the world are up front.

  2. Very interesting story. Unique and creative.

    I am confused about how this all works. Is she only what she is drawn? If so, how does she have pockets with things inside? Toga's don't have pockets, so what else is she wearing?

    Would Thalia know what a cap eraser is?

    The bit about being a muse felt like an info dump. Just intersperse this information a little at a time. Perhaps when she recalls the White Queen calling her a thief her only response is simply that she understands copyright infringement.

    If she is the muse for the writer, wouldn't she know his name, rather than referring to him as writer?

    Can he hear her? Does she have physical influence on her page?

    This is a daring story and will require a lot of logistics. Make sure you know the answers.

    But great idea and I would keep reading.

  3. I found this very interesting and would read on. My only issue is that the voice doesn't feel like MG to me. Sometimes the character voice feels older. For example, a 10 or 11 year-old would say "in which she lived." Most 10 year olds would say "where she lived." They also would say remembered instead of recalled. I'm not saying to dumb down the language. I'm just assuming Thalia is a kid, and her voice needs to have a more authentic kid feel.

    Also, this line doesn't work for me:

    "I was well trained. I mean, I’m his Muse, inspiring content. I know everything about copyright infringement."

    This feels like an info dump, yet I don't get what it's supposed to tell me.Is she a character who knows herself mostly in relation to the story she's part of? Or does she fully understand the writing process that made her and is more connected to her writer's world and her writer? Maybe this doesn't need to be answered yet, but I was a tad confused what the "rules" were for this world and this line seemed to violate them for me.

  4. I have to agree with inimitableballerina - this opening left me very confused. Particularly the paragraph about copyright infringement. The character says "She called me a thief. But I didn't steal anything." First, I thought she was referring to the Winter Queen. Then, when she mentions copyright infringement, I thought she was talking about the writer. But then I saw that the writer was a boy ("I'm HIS muse), and I got completely and totally lost.

    And a few things didn't make sense - 'the wall snapped in answer', 'her mood lighted up a bit' (I think it should be 'lightened').

    I do like the idea of a girl living inside a rough draft, though! Clever.

  5. I love this concept - a drawing stuck in her page.

    I agree with Heidi about that line that doesn't work - does she only know her world, does she know the real world? She must know about both if she knows she was created?

    I wonder if this isn't exactly the right place to start - maybe just a tiny bit earlier, as she's being thrown out?

    Love the idea and some of the detail!

  6. This is an interesting premise, but it definitely doesn't feel MG. I agree with the others about the confusion. If can a discarded character can continue her own story, why does she need a writer?

  7. First off, you have an intriguing premise, but as others mentioned the beginning is very confusing.

    Have you considered the idea of starting a little bit earlier in the story... perhaps right before the writer rips the page. This would give you the opportunity to ground the reader in Thalia's world before ripping it up. It might help avoid the confusion here b/c the rules of the world would be laid out before this point.

    Best Wishes,

  8. Okay - here's where someone loved the idea of a muse not only inspiring but also knowing copywrite law. It made me laugh. And it lets the reader know this is a thoroughly modern muse - not one just filled with romantic nonsense.

    I liked this enormously. Clear up the confusing bits and move on. You've got something solid here.

  9. Thank you so much for the feedback. That's invaluable.
    I think you're right Joseph, I should start a little bit earlier and explain that Thalia is a Muse, not a character, and a 3D person. She is not trapped in a story, but free to go as she pleases. And she is wearing the bracelet. The problem is she is going to be trapped very soon and cornered by her writer. The writer does not have a name because he is not a main character.

  10. And I forgot to say, this is Upper MG or Lower YA (I cannot really say it is YA, but the voice is the one of a 14 year old)

  11. This is an imaginative concept, but not a fit for me I'm afraid. I'm wary of novels about writers, or people getting sucked into books, etc. - I do think editors see quite a few of these, and a project has to be really superlative to break through the crowd (same goes for stories about people being sucked into video games, or a video game character becoming real).

    As is, the writing here isn't quite grabbing me. I suggest avoiding italicized internal monologue, as in "She called me a thief" etc. To me, this is a bit of a shortcut to revealing character desires and motivations. Most of us don't think in complete sentences, after all. And remember- readers are more interested in what a character *does* than what she *thinks*.

    Another agent may totally flip for this story, but it's not right for me.

  12. I had to work too hard on this, and still didn't get it. Sorry! :(