Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #22

GENRE: MG Urban Fantasy

I stood in the middle of the dog park, staring at the woods in the distance. The trees huddled together like giant aliens, studying me for some crazy experiment. The leaves flickered in the breeze as if a million green fingers were reaching out, begging me to come inside.

So cool.

Mom’s warning blared in my head for the millionth time. I mean it, Cody. It’s too dangerous. Gangs and drug addicts hang out those woods. You’re never to go in there. Understand? Never.

Geez. I stared at the trees. Never? Like never ever? But maybe there were bike trails in there. Or a fishing pond. Maybe a Superhero’s secret hideout! Oh man, my friends would be stinking jealous if I went in the woods without them. This time, I’d have all the great stories to tell when they got back from summer camp.

Sweat dripped down my face and I wiped it with my t-shirt. Matt and Zach were probably swimming in that freeze-your-toes-off lake at camp right now. Those lucky jerks. The only water I’d get to swim in was in the bathtub.

Suddenly the hair on my neck stood up and I had a weird feeling someone was watching me. I looked all around the park. My dog was chasing her tennis ball, but there was no one else. When I turned back toward the woods, that weird feeling seemed stronger. Was someone—or something—hiding in there?

Maybe Bigfoot!


  1. This isn't a cheerleading comment, but I can't find anything negative to say. There's so much accomplished in just 250 words! The voice, the opening jealousy of his friends (or her friends? but I feel like it's a boy), the funny-yet-ominous set-up with the trees as aliens, and the conflict with his mother's warning not to go in. I'd definitely keep reading.

  2. What a fun entry! Really love the setting, the voice, the writing.

    I don't have much to say, either, but you are missing an "in" after "hang out" in the 3rd paragraph.

    This is great, and I would love to read more!!

  3. I don't usually read MG, but I really liked the voice in this one! I also assumed it was a boy based on the voice.

    The only thing I could really comment on is the last paragraph. Maybe it is just personal preference but I'd like a better transition here and maybe something a little more unique than the usual "hairs on my neck stood up". Maybe allude to the dog chasing the tennis ball and then realize there is no one else in the dog park but him...and then transition in the weird feeling that creeps over him. That's my only observation/suggestion.

    Otherwise great job!!

  4. This sounds like a lot of fun. The voice is great and it's relatable. I really like how he described the trees as looking like alien fingers. Foreshadowing perhaps? :) The woods sound so interesting!

  5. Love the voice, swimming in the bath, jerks, etc. it sounds authentic for MG which is awesome that you captured it. I'm intrigued by what may be in the woods.
    I think you did a great job weaving in back story, showing us how the mom worries, the friendly competition with his buddies, etc.
    My main critique of the opening was that the woods are in the distance, but he's close enough to see leaves flicker? How big are these leaves? How close is he really?
    And I think him noticing he's the only one in the dog park could bring another way to bring in tension.
    If he's excited about something like Bigfoot, it's going to be a fun adventure following this kid around. Good luck!

  6. The voice seems pitch-perfect for mg, and as someone who tried and failed at it, bravo! My only comment is more based on agents usually commenting about openings that are 'overdone,' and 'creature in the woods' is one of them. Hopefully what follows isn't your protagonist running from some beast, because if it is, you may lose interest as a result.

  7. I enjoyed the comparisons, even in the very beginning with the way the trees/forest were described. And then the “so cool” gives the character such great personality. I liked how the character’s thoughts also fleshed out his life (not being able to go to summer camp, over protective mom, etc). Well done!

  8. I really liked the opening paragraph and the idea that the trees are huddling together, watching him, drawing him closer with leafy fingers. In the paragraphs that follow, I had some questions: I’m not sure how old Cody is, but it felt a little jarring to go from the threat of drug addicts (something an older kid might be aware of), to the possibility of Bigfoot (something a younger one might believe). I also wonder if there’s a way that Cody might be a little more active in the opening; being drawn into the woods is somewhat passive -- perhaps he’s been planning to explore the woods for some time, since his friends left?