Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #29

TITLE: Minus The Renaissance Guy
GENRE: MG Magical Realism

I’ve finished my homework and crossed the last assignment off my list when I get a new text. It’s in a font I’ve never seen before, one that looks almost like calligraphy.

Come hither now, and hear an epic tale.
A golden boy, at nothing could he fail.
The setting? A sleepy town called Stratfordale.
Not England, 'cause this ain't The Holy Grail.
Nor out at sea; there is no Moby whale.
This stanza's done; my rhyme is getting stale.

Our hero is a boy with many skills.
His thirst for knowledge never gets its fill.
The villains go to Avon School. My hunch?
Before this first act ends you'll hear a crunch.
I'll guide you as emotions run amok
Perhaps I'll intervene as well -- I'm Puck!

“What in the heck…”

Before I can examine the poem more closely, my phone blows up. Text notifications buzz one after the other, telling me to check out My skin tightens as I type in the web address. When the page loads, my eyes are assaulted by a screen filled with nastiness. The background is emblazoned:

Avon Middle School -- Champions Forever

There’s a countdown clock running. Some quick math confirms that it will hit zero at the start of the awards ceremony for the annual Renaissance Festival. Above the clock it says:

Countdown to our next victory
Why bother trying? You know we’ll win again.


  1. This is a very interesting opening and it starts with a bang. Great job. I would only suggest that you try to weave something in about the main character. At this point, we know nothing about him/her. It is hard to care as much without a few details to ground us in the story and help us invest in the mc. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I agree with Wren. My other issue is the screen filled with nastiness. What you describe him/her seeing doesn't sound nasty to me. How much time until the clock runs out? Can we know? The shorter the timeline, the greater the suspense.

  3. I thought this was a great idea! I immediately started thinking of all the things you might do with it.

    You might consider, though, all the things that happen after the phone blows up. I took that literally and wanted to see it happen, as opposed to it being told to me. And then I wondered how he could still be getting texts. It only occurred to me afterwards that the phone didn't really blow up. It just became very active. Maybe make that clearer, or maybe it's just me. Sounds like it could be a lot of fun!

  4. I really liked the opening. I would suggest that if there are any lines to the poem that are not part of the story they be eliminated. I too wanted to know what the "nastiness" was that he saw - death, destruction - is something scaring him? Also, I was confused by the Avon School being where the villains go but they're champions forever. If Avon School is going to win and this is where the villains are why would they be threatening? The next 250 words may clear it all up - really good premise!

  5. Very intriguing and unique opening. Will there be more texts in verse? Current cell phone language that today's reader will understand. First person present tense immerses the reader quickly into the story. Wondering if the average MG reader will be familiar with Renaissance Festivals? Should you mention a particular event or competition that Avon Middle Schools says they will win? rather than the whole festival? Wondering more information about the MC? And what is meant by "nastiness"? You might be reaching more into the YA realm with this novel.

  6. This is an interesting beginning--unique. It ties in a sense of modern middle grade experience with a tie in to a fascination with Renaissance. Since it's classified as Magical Realism, I wonder if this will take us into a Renaissance role playing scenario or Renaissance fantasy, but beyond that, I'm not sure what to expect. With an unknown sender sending loads of back to back texts to visit a specific website, I was surprised the protagonist actually went to the site. At first I thought the "Champions Forever" had to do with a sports event, but now I wonder if it's not role playing? Questions aside, while the plot is being established, a second read through confirms that I'm not getting a sense of the character nor the character's voice, really. Given the strongly themed plot, though, that may not matter with the right reader. :)