Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #35

TITLE: The Hidden World
GENRE: MG Fantasy

            Kevin slammed the door as he left the house. Spring break was going to be awful. The barn cat followed him as he walked down the trail to the large stream at the back of their property.

            “What the heck?” he said as he looked at the water. A girl was sitting on a rock reading a book. A rock you couldn’t get to without getting wet, and she was dry. Her blond hair hung around her face and her clothes were shimmery with streaks of green that seemed to move.

            “Hey! Are you stuck?” he asked. The girl looked behind her as if he couldn’t possibly be speaking to her. “You, on the rock!”

             “Are you talking to me?” she asked.

             “Who else would I be talking to?”

            “You can see me?”

            She must have escaped from the loony bin. “Uh, yeah. How’d you get on that rock without getting wet?”

            “You can hear me?”

            Geez, she’s really crazy. “Okay, where are you from? Um, where are your parents?” The girl lowered her face but not before Kevin saw her frown. Maybe her parents are dead and she’s gone snappy. “I’ll go get a board so you can walk to the bank. Don’t go anywhere.” That was a stupid thing to say, he thought as he turned away.

            “I don’t understand,” she said.

             Kevin spun back toward the stream, thinking her voice sounded much closer. The girl, completely dry, was standing on the bank. “How did…” he trailed off.


  1. You have a nice middle grade voice. I'm curious about the girl and whether she is a mermaid or something else, so this draws me in. You might want to add a little about Kevin to make the reader care more about him. Perhaps a little interaction with family before he storms out? Nice job!

  2. I really like this. You set up the mystery well, and the MG voice is strong. It is quite intriguing.

    Best of luck, and happy writing!

  3. Great voice! Natural sounding dialogue.

    Perhaps you could write the second paragraph as the first but tighten and tweak the sentences to gear up the action. Also, use of "large" stream could be made more dramatic by something like white-water or wild to give me a better picture.

    It's a page turner. Keep writing!

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  5. My first thought was why is he angry and slamming doors? What has happened that will make spring break suck? Perhaps say what, that way we have a reason to empathize with the MC. And you not only get your problem on page 1, you get it in parg 1.

    You might also want to say why he went to the stream. Is that the place he goes to when life is getting him down? Does it bring him peace? Or is he so stressed he plans to drown himself. His motivation will tell us something about him.

    You might also want to tell us something about the girl. Does she look about his age? Is she younger? A teen? Is the stream wide, deep, and dangerous? Calm, peaceful, and refreshing? Build on the info you're already giving us, so we see your world the way you want us to see it. It's a good opening, but adding more details will make it seem more real.

  6. You've set up the mystery nicely. I'm guessing this is a mermaid and I'm really curious about why Kevin *can* see her, who she is, and what seeing her means.

    The opening feels too swift for me, though. After Kevin leaves the house, it's barely a few seconds before he encounters the mermaid. How about drawing out his walk a bit? Explain briefly (from his POV) what his particular gripes about spring break are. Are those gripes going to be complications for him as the story progresses? Show us the landscape in a way that colors it in a bit more for us. You might also use the opportunity to scene set to illustrate Kevin's mood too -- consider using touches of the objective correlative ( to show us Kevin's mood as he leaves, and then whatever change he experiences once he sees the girl. You have a really solid MG voice so are on great footing to tinker like this without losing that MG feel.

    If you're at the revising stage where you want to tighten up line-by-line, you might also consider trimming the dialog and the descriptors. The point is that she's shocked he can see her and he thinks she's nuts, right? Paring down to get those things across would move us faster to what happens once she's on the bank.

  7. Great title; good set up of a mystery; wondering about the girl? Was she a mermaid now trapped in our world (b/c she is dry?Suggest that you revise verbs into past tense and edit prepositional phrases when not needed. Use action tag: he looked at the water; eliminates he said. Her clothes "shimmered with streaks..." to use a stronger verb. Edit par 9 where the girl reacts to his dialogue; indenting. change ing verb (was standing) to past tense verb (now stood). Love the mystery that you have set up here. Good luck with the ms.

  8. First couple of sentences didn't seem to go with the rest. He seems angry, but the reader has no clue why. Maybe let us into his head a little bit before he meets up with the girl. Very intriguing, though. It caught my interest.

  9. For me, this one jumps in a bit too fast. I know a lot of readers who like books to start right in on the action, but I'd like a bit more setup in this manuscript. Why was Spring Break going to be awful? Where are we? Does this cat usually follow him? Is the cat important? What does the cat look like? How far away is the stream? Are his parents home? Is he out of view or is he pretty close to the house? I'm not sure any of that is important, but I feel like we just jumped out of the school bus and landed in a boat heading to the Isle of Mermaids. It is an interesting perspective, though, and I would like to know what is going on and who the girl is. I just wish it would have backed up a bit and slowed down the entrance. I think middle grade readers will like what's being set up, but I think the manuscript (judging the whole from the part, at least) could probably use a bit of tightening up and pace control. Definitely something here, though. :)