Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #15

TITLE: Don't Ask Me
GENRE: MG Contemporary

My bestest friend is rocking it at the front of the classroom, doing her Morgan Thing and dazzling the thirty or so kids who will be this year’s Bark staff.

Half an hour ago Morgan looped her arm through mine while I was adjusting the mini-chandelier in my new locker and then dragged me down the hall to this afterschool meeting. It’s Day Two of eighth grade, and we’re both superexcited. This is going to be the best year ever for our posse. We’ve waited forever to rule the Middle School, and Morgan’s wanted to be the editor of a paper since sixth grade, when she spent her weekends making up school news articles for Hogwarts.

Now she’s calling my name.

“Holls? What are your ideas?”

Shoot! I thought I was here only for emotional support. My heart starts racing in a slight panic, so I take in a yoga breath and scan the room, focusing on girls’ cell phone covers and backpacks, two of the few ways you can set yourself apart fashion-wise at Dallas Country Day. As I exhale, I glance at Mom’s Us Weekly, which I’ve been secretly flipping through under my desk top.

I’ve got this.

“How about some kind of ‘Who Wore It Better?’” I say, slightly changing the name of the magazine’s fashion column. I hold up the pages so everyone can clearly see how Duchess Kate beats Mandy Moore in the same red maxi dress.


  1. I think this is good, but you need more of a hook, more tension to carry the story forward. One thing I would change is the starting paragraph. I would lead with Morgan saying 'Holls, what are your ideas?" Then have Holls say 'Shoot I was only here for emotional..." I think it creates a mystery of what is going on and then we find out they're in a classroom and Morgan is presenting something. Just my opinion, though. Then I think you need some kind of action, dialogue or IM that introduces tension to create suspense and make the reader want to go on. Right now, there's not much. Maybe it happens in the next paragraph, but if you can find a way to introduce it sooner, that would be good. Good luck!

  2. I'd suggest cutting the whole 2nd parg. This is all just explanation of what happened before. It can all be gotten out later. Use your word count to show us what is happening now. Without that big parg, you'll have more room to work in whatever the problem/issue will be.

  3. I agree with the above. The writing is strong. I definitely see great potential. Just get us there sooner.

  4. Middle school language is spot on: bestest friend, chandelier in the locker, superexcited, posse, rule the school, yoga breath, fashion magazines...This would be a great girls' book. I know the ages and names of main characters, thanks. Not so sure yet about a conflict? However, personally, I like to ease into a story, but that is not the popular format these days. Good luck with the ms. I know a bunch of 4th and 5th grade girls that would devour it.

  5. Very relatable. Nice voice. This feels like something I'd have read as a kid. I like the big picture group character motivation being set up so early, but I suspect there is a personal motivation line here that hasn't been disclosed, and I'm interested in what her unique perspective on it is going to be. I think the timeline can be cleaned up a tad, though. Is there any reason why we are in the meeting and reflecting back to thirty minutes ago? Perhaps Morgan can have her arm looped through Holls while *at* the meeting and asking her ideas, rather than calling on her? If her bestest friend is rocking it at the front of the classroom, it seems (subjectively) unrealistic that she'd be flipping through a magazine under her desk rather than paying attention.

    Overall, though, I like this. The age is appropriate, their hopes for eighth grade are relatable, the writing is smooth and offers a sense of plot progression, and there is an overall sense of authenticity to the voice. The opening scene has an intriguing connection to the title, and I'm wondering where this is all going because of it. Maybe her answer here leads them down a road they didn't see coming, so next time, she'd rather just not be asked? Maybe it's totally unrelated? Needless to say, I'm curious if the title and her being called on was an intentional overlap.

    Things I liked
    • voice
    • authenticity

    • just the little things I mentioned above