Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #40

TITLE: Thunder Girls
GENRE: MG Contemporary

Emily glared at her mom like a pitcher staring down a batter. She might not be able to strike her out, but she could disagree with her. Mom lifted a moving box on to the kitchen counter and looked out the window, “Why don’t you unpack your glove?” she said indicating two girls playing catch in the lawn next door.

“No! I told you already, I’m never playing softball again,” she said running back upstairs. Emily slammed the door to her new room with the new wet paint. Her fists clenched to her sides. She leaned against the door and tried to slow her breath. Her chest heaved in and out, like she ran all the bases after hitting a homerun.

She remembered the still wet paint and jumped away from the door to check her tee-shirt for white smears. The smell of the fresh paint in her room gave her mom a migraine. Earlier, Mom opened all the windows on the second floor before going downstairs to unpack the boxes in the kitchen. The breeze blew through the room and with it came voices and shouts.

Emily went to the window to slam it shut on those two softball-playing girls, but then she heard an intriguing sound. A sound that transported her back to dusty ball fields she tried so hard to forget. The sound of a cheer she screamed a thousand times.


  1. Ooh, I really feel Emily's frustration here, and I sympathize and relate to her so much immediately! Bravo. I only have one little nitpick (really because the entry pulled me in and I felt for Emily so much) and that's that the dialogue and action tags feel a little clunky to me. I feel like in a few cases, one of the "said"s can be eliminated, or at least connected with commas. Like instead of "she said, indicating..." or just "she indicated two girls..."
    And then again: "she said, running upstairs..."
    But like I said, it's such a tiny fix! Your entry is strong and the last paragraph intrigued me and definitely left me wanting more.

  2. I'm loving the competing ideas, her so used to playing (loving) the game that she thinks in softball similes, with this new idea that she will never play again. It makes me wonder what happened that made her not want to play again. It might be just a little too heavy on those similes, though. Instead of the similes, you could have her flashing back a little at a time before the "sound that transported her back.."
    I am interested in exactly what sound it was she heard that transported her back--were the 2 girls chanting? Was it the crack of the bat on the ball? The pop of the ball in the glove? Would love to know.

  3. Oh I really loved the tension from so early on! You mention the wet paint several times, so maybe just say "The wet paint was giving her a migraine. Or "She had a pounding headache, either from the coat of fresh paint on the walls, or from (something else bothering her). "Probably both." It would tell us several things at once: She's grumpy. The house is new and/or she just moved here. And give her motivation to open the window.
    Just suggestions but otherwise it was a great opening!

  4. I'm intrigued by what happened that she doesn't want to play softball again. And I love the softball similes. I definitely feel for her at the end, thinking on the thing you love that you *think* you'll never do again.

    My only critique is to tighten things up a bit. For example-'The smell of fresh paint..' and 'Earlier...' can be tightened to 'The smell of fresh paint gave her mom a migraine, causing her to open all the windows on the second floor before going downstairs to unpack the kitchen.' -or something.

  5. I love the back and forth of her clearly knowing the sport but not wanting to play anymore, leaves me wanting to know why? I want the intriguing sound described. What about it catches her ear. Nice opening overall.

  6. First, if she loves softball, what is her reason for never wanting to play again? What turned her off? This is her motivation which the reader should be aware of. This is the reason we'll care.

    Her fists clenched to her sides. How did that happen? She has to clench her fists. They can't do that on their own. Be sure your characters don't have body parts acting on their own.

    Her chest should heave in and out before she tries to slow it. Let events happen in the order in which they occur.

    It's not a bad start, but it could be stronger. Look at elevating the writing.

    1. I’m confused. Are you implying this writer should write somewhere high up? Or like in an elevator?
      Also. Coughs—sometimes when dudes wake up, a certain body part has certainly acted on its own...just saying.

    2. Hey Barb, I actually completely disagree. The readers are going to be so interested because of the mystery--she loves softball and doesn't want to play again? That's *why* I'm so interested in reading more!

  7. That opening line is fantastic! I can really feel her frustration, it's very clear. You could almost skip the wet paint thing and have her in her room, being drawn straight to the window, the sound of the gifs voices calling to her? it's a great opening, you've set up the main character really well!

  8. Oh nice job getting us into this nice and quick. I feel everything she feels! And this line, "“No! I told you already, I’m never playing softball again,” she said running back upstairs." SO MG. I can tell immediately what the tone of this will be. Nice job. And I'd beware of "elevating the writing" as one of the above comment recommends, as you want to appeal to an MG audience...

    As far as a tweak, I agree with Ashley Mc. I want to hear more about the sound that transported her into her memory. You've got sensory detail in there now, but I want more!

  9. I'm immediately intrigued with Emily's plight. It seems she's just moved in. New paint and boxes. She doesn't want to meet the kids outside or play softball again even though she's clearly played in the past and seemingly at a competitive level.

    In the second paragraph the repetition of "new" should be fixed, but that's easy.

    A very good opening to a story lots of kids will love to read. Good luck!

  10. Fun, fun, fun! MG needs female baseball stories, and Emily is a great character to get behind. I imagine kids flipping pages in the dugout, rooting for Emily.

    This line is fantastic! 'Her chest heaved in and out like she ran all the bases after hitting a home run.' You've done an excellent job keeping me grounded within the baseball theme.

    In the second sentence, 'be able to' could be deleted. As far as the rest, follow the others who have made fix-it comments. There is some great advice there.

    I can't wait to read this one!

  11. I played softball in middle school, and this hit a home run for me. A little more sensory detail would put us right there with her. Good job!

  12. Great contemporary setting and theme...girls, softball, moving...easy for today's reader to identify. Strong opening line/simile. Suggest revising to strengthen verbs (went), fix echoes (new), clear out unnecessary words, replace said with action dialogue tag. First par needs to indent with word Mom. Check for when you need to use "had" when referencing past actions. (earlier, Mom had opened...a cheer she had screamed...had tried to forget) Good luck; nice contemporary story.

  13. This has a nice balance of exposition with a sense of forward progression. We're establishing dynamics while at the same time establishing the problem. I like the baseball theme being established so quickly amidst the new places challenges that are going to build a natural conflict and resolution, and I like how that all plays into the title.

    I would definitely read more of this. My only note of concern was the jumping to the mom's experience over sticking closely with the character's in the third paragraph.

    Overall, though, nicely done. I'd love to read more.