Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #10

GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

I’ll never forgive the jelly donut that turned me into a ghost, though I will always wonder what type of filling it had. Cherry maybe, or grape? I hope not grape, that stuff tastes like cough medicine.

The day was cold, at least cold for me, wearing only a t-shirt and my black and pink skull and cross bones hoodie. Quite an ironic ensemble for the day I got to meet the Grim Reaper. Well, I guess I technically met the Grim Reaper the next day. The air stung a little when I breathed, so I pulled up the collar of my shirt to cover my face. It only gets cold like that for a day or so in south Texas, and I almost wished I had brought my dorky blue jacket with the hippos on it. Almost.

I stomped my legs up and down while I waited for the school bus. The sun hadn’t really come up yet and it was that awkward time of morning when it’s bright enough to see, but not really daytime. The cars rumbled along Bluebonnet Street as all the parents left for work. Can we just take a moment and think about the name of my street. Bluebonnet. You’d be hard pressed to find a more Texas name for a street. Do they even have bluebonnets in other states? Thinking about that is probably sacrilege against Texas. Maybe I should recite the Texas pledge a couple times to absolve myself.


  1. I'm truly not attempting to be sarcastic, but I can't help but wonder if this kid has ADHD. His POV just seems to be easily distracted and so many ideas keep popping up that my head is spinning just a bit.

    I know this is only 250 words, but we start off with a jelly donut turning him into a ghost, and then go to the weather and his clothing and the traffic and the time of day and then street names and state flowers. That's a lot of random info in such a short time span.

    Not that i don't enjoy the details, but perhaps a short introduction that gives us a feel for his personality first might help.

    I would like to get to the incident that killed him, seriously.

    The only thing that pulled me out was his pulling his collar up to cover his face. I don't know of t-shirts with collars, so it distracted me to try to envision this.

    Good luck with it and I'd still like to read more about this jelly donut!

  2. Great voice! This kid sounds hilarious. I feel like reading this would be a really good time. ^_^ I love the name of the street. The little details make it feel like just another ordinary cool day in the desert. This made me happy.

  3. The first sentence made me giggle, and I'm curious to know how a jelly donut turns someone into a ghost without that person eating it. (Guess I'll have to keep reading to find out!)

    The narration does seem to jump around a bit. I'm thinking, though, that some strategic paragraph breaks (for example, before "Can we just take a moment...?" and transitions might smooth things out.

  4. I'm in Texas and yet I felt like that went a bit overboard with the bluebonnet thing. I don't really see street names as a thing kids would consider. I also felt the language was a bit of author intrusion. It just didn't read authentic for a mg character. It felt like an adult. Just my opinion.

    I also don't really feel like I have a sense of this character yet. I have more of a sense of the setting than the mc.

  5. This one has way too much going on in the opening material. I'm bothered that the opening line is meant only as a hook and has no real followup.

    o "...wearing only a t-shirt and hoodie", no jeans, no matching pink sneakers?

    o "...pulled up the collar of my shirt", collar on a t-shirt? Wouldn't the hood be more logical?

    o The passage about Bluebonnet street takes up an awful lot of important territory right at the start. If this information is crucial to the story, maybe it would be better as an exchange between characters, or with the Reaper.

    o Not sure if the hippo jacket is important to the story. I couldn't figure out how to interpret this piece of information. That babyish image contrasts rather sharply with the tone of the voice which sounds much older.

    There's good stuff here and the writing is clear. But it needs some hard editing to weed out what is really necessary to kick off the story. Simplify.

  6. Ha! The wackiness of the jelly donut has me hooked. And how it could have killed the main character, without him/her knowing what it was filled with? Just a bite of the edge, then? Or did s/he trip on it? I want to know!

    The Bluebonnet Street commentary pulled me from the story, though, and I'm not exactly sure which day we're in. In present tense, the narrator is saying s/he'll never forgive the donut. Then we're in past tense describing a day that I think? is leading up to the jelly donut incident. If this were a little more clear, and we moved a little more quickly to that point, I'd be sold!

    Good luck!

  7. That is one amazing opening paragraph. I love it. Seriously. Don't change it.

    As for the rest of the 250, i agree that it jumps around a lot. Do we need to know the exact design of all the clothing? and if he/she's wearing a hoodie, how does he/she also have a collar?

    Finally, i'm not sure you need that 3rd paragraph at all. it more kills the pacing and doesn't seem to add to your plot. I want to know more about the ghost bit rather than a street name.

    All in all though, this is a really good start and best of luck!

  8. I thought the beginning of your opening sentence worked as a good hook, but I would have ended after ghost. I'm guessing the type of filling isn't really relevant.

    The rest of it seemed unfocused, hopping from one thought to another instead of dwelling on his death and/or becoming a ghost.

    You might also watch out for logic. He's pulling up the collar of a t-shirt that doesn't have a collar, and even if he was wearing a collared shirt, wouldn't it make more sense to pull up his hood? He's 'only' wearing a t-shirt and a hoodie (but the skull and crossbones is pink, so maybe the MC is a she?) which means he isn't wearing pants or shoes. Perhaps rephrase that line.

    IN the end, we don't know any more about the MC than we did in the beginning. Perhaps rewrite with a focus more on the MC, his/her death, and the Grim Reaper.

  9. I like your character’s voice, and found the opening and closing lines funny. At the same time, I think you can pull back on some of this rumination, as funny as some parts are, to move your story forward a bit more. I’d love to know what this character wants.